Maremma, Southern Tuscany, Italy
1) Pitigliano - true fascination
This extraordinary town is perched on a high rocky outcrop with some of the houses looking out over a sheer drop to the valley below. The two main streets through the old town are just narrow gullies with many even narrower alleyways branching off to the left and right. I was forever drawn to the street outside the walls, where it is easy to find car-parking spaces but, above all, from where you can capture the ever-changing view of the town.
Sadly, many appartments are for sale in the old town, probably a sign of the difficulties involved: no convenient car parking then a steep climb up rickety stairs and most of the buildings seem to be made up of appartments rather than being independent houses.
However visitors are spoilt for choice with a number of interesting-looking restaurants within the old town.
On my only full day in the area, I wanted to explore some of the sunken Etruscan roadways or "vie cave" which have been cut out of the relatively soft "tufa" rock of the area. I was using Gillian Price's Walking in Tuscany: 50 Walks Throughout Tuscany (Cicerone International Walking) which in fact shows Pitigliano as the cover illustration. I chose to walk to Sovana and back, as this walk took in a couple of these famous sunken footpaths.
In fact, as I walk alone, I found these sunken paths rather disquieting and found I was racing through them and so didn't take as many photographs as I ought to have done. A couple can be seen below, together with a photograph of the ruts worn in the rocky plateau of tufa between Pitigliano and Sovana. Also shown is a map of a longer path which might inspire some of you for a future visit.
I was in Pitigliano in October 2011 on my way back from Sorrento and Amalfi. My hotel was the Albergo Guastini. The food was very good and there was a extremely kind welcome from owners and staff. The rooms could perhaps do with a little attention but, on the other hand, the prices were very reasonable. Ask for a room with THE view!
2) In and around Tarquinia
I've visited Tarquinia twice but always on my way somewhere else. The town deserves more than this as it has a fascinating middle-ages feel to it with quiet, paved streets with no more noise than the odd footfall.
The left-hand picture shows water collection at a cost (esthetics) on a house outside the town walls but the right-hand photo illustrates the typical street scene in the old town of Tarquinia.
Tarquinia is best-known for the numerous Etruscan tombs about 1km from the town centre. The tombs were dug out of the local "tufa" rock and each entrance has a newly-constructed porch to protect it from the elements. There are still a certain number of mural paintings in good condition.
On this last visit to Tarquinia, I stayed at the Casale Poggio Nebbia. This agriturismo has rave reviews which it thoroughly deserves. I can wholeheartedly recommend it and shall go back there myself sometime soon.