A Dramatic Town to Call Home in Tuscany

My husband had to yank the steering wheel and stop the car to avoid a crash. The snake-like road that we were driving along gave such a dramatic view of Pitigliano that we couldn’t help but pull over and gape. The enchanting stone village on its high bluff just begs to be admired.

Pitigliano is in southern Tuscany, the less-known part that has fascinating Etruscan remains and breathtaking towns that seem to have grown spontaneously from the tufa rock on which they rest. That first glimpse infatuated us. We couldn’t quit looking at it, walking out to the overlook for photos in different light throughout the day. When I start to gush like this, you know the place is really a rare beauty.

But it’s not just the sight of Pitigliano, it’s the town itself, called “la citta’di tufo,” and all the buildings—constructed with golden-coloured stone that makes it look ancient and alluring. The old town stretches along the bluff, with intriguing lanes and little piazzas opening along the way. We ramble into quaint corners and overlooks with impressive views of the river gorge and surrounding countryside.

The gateway to the town is protected by the dominating Palazzo Orsini, an imposing structure that is now home to two museums.

We didn’t go hungry in Pitigliano. For a small town, there is a surprising number of excellent eateries. We liked the laidback Angiolina, which is part wine bar, part restaurant. A more upscale place was Il Frantoio, where we enjoyed fresh twists on hearty Tuscan fare. Prices were reasonable at both places—we both dined for less than €40 (about $58) for a complete meal, including local wine.

The rugged terrain outside town is perfect for hiking. We explored the fascinating Etruscan pathways called “vie cave,” where hand-carved, tunnel-like roads connect their ancient centres. Here, you can find good-value homes on offer. One beautiful home I came across was well restored using original materials with arched brick ceilings, wood accents and old terracotta paving. Set on two floors, it has a wine cellar in the tufa rock below, three bedrooms and a gorgeous view from the sunny balcony. It was on sale for €180,000 ($262,150).

Another appealing option is an apartment in town with a small garden for €63,000 ($91,750). It has an open living room and kitchen with brick barrel vault ceiling, a bedroom, bathroom and storage room. Plus, it comes with green outdoor space—a rarity in medieval towns.

If you want two apartments for the price of one, I spotted a spacious place that has great potential, divided into two one-bedroom homes, each with a terrace. They could be combined to make one larger home, or you can live in one and rent the other. It’s on the market for €115,000 ($167,500).

The piazzas in town sport nice wine bars and cafes, perfect for enjoying a bit of the dolce vita. We parked ourselves at one on the edge of the piazza by stone archways that framed the view, where we could simultaneously take in the landscape, watch the activity in the square and listen to water splashing from the fountain…all while sipping some wine and munching the tasty tidbits they brought to go with it. It’s easy to take an immediate liking to Pitigliano.

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