Never would I have imagined a stunning Italian town in Tuscany, perched on top a volcanic cliff of ‘tufa’ covered in beautiful carpets of flowers. My first experience of ‘infiorata’ a famous religious festival that takes place all over Italy was a wonderful one, all based around celebrating Corpus Domini. This is hands down one of the prettiest places I have seen in bella Toscana, the caves cut into the cliffs make quite the impression, plus the general vibe and people (of course it was festival season) made me think that there is just something special about this town. I was there with my good friend Alexandra from Arttrav, and Maremma expert, who graciously hosted Frenchy and I for a fun seaside-filled weekend, her post about the event is awesome! Coming to Pitigliano was sort of a last-minute decision but oh my marbles, I am so happy we came ;-).
Pitigliano’s 2014 Infiorata in action!
I am constantly amazed at how beautiful Italy is and this feeling never ends, especially when just a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know this place existed. We snapped more pictures than my memory card could handle and finally made our way inside to explore this place first hand. Already the infiorata was hard at work, being the final day the religious procession was due to take place over these organic carpets later that day at 5pm.
I also recommend checking out this fun storify by Maremmans, an initiative looking to promote the region of Maremma and all there is to offer!
The best meal in Maremma?
Obviously Alexandra wasn’t going to steer us wrong for lunch and if I’m honest, looking at all of these people hard at work at the festival made me work up an appetite, and I didn’t do a thing! We headed to Hostaria del Ceccottino in the heart of the city for a meal that I probably will never forget for a number of reasons. We each ordered the typical ‘crespelle’ or Tuscan crepes, a cheese platter and some truffle and cheese panini that looked nothing of the sort. From the local vermentino white wine to the scrupulous bread bowls holding melted pecorino cheese and delectable summer truffles, this was a magical lunch. The presentation of each dish was flawless, you must eat here if you come to Pitigliano!
Hosteria del Ceccottino: Piazza San Gregorio VII, 64, Pitigliano Grosseto. Tel: 0564 614069
The Jewish Quarter
Another recommend stop when in Pitigliano is the Jewish ghetto of the city which contains a beautiful synagogue, only 2.5 euros to visit. The town has a rich Jewish heritage, dating back to the 16th century when many Jews escaped ghettoes in Rome and Florence for Pitigliano. It was considered one of the liveliest Jewish areas of Italy, numbering up to a third of the local population by the 19th century. However by World War II the population dwindled to almost none.
This is where our trip ended, sadly enough, Nico had to literally pull me away, I would stayed in this town all weekend long and for good reason. There are other sites to see which include the beautiful Palazzo Orsini, a 14th century fortress, now a museum, near the town’s entrance. The 16th century Aqueduct which runs along the side of town and across Via Cavour, the Chiesa di San Rocco which is the oldest church in town, dating from the 12th century, the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul containing some impressive artworks. Everyone recommended visiting the underground caves and tunnels inside the tufa beneath the city which can be done via walking tours (ask the tourist information office).
Getting to Pitigliano
While it’s not exactly your next-door neighbor in Florence, Pitigliano is about 2 1/2 hours away from Florence and well-worth a visit, by car take the A1 heading south and exit Orvieto, following signs to Pitigliano. Apparently you can also take a bus (change at the grossetto train station with RAMA from the SITA station in Florence, times are here, Florence to Grossetto, Grossetto to Pitigliano. I would head to the info desk at SITA and ask if times and/or buses have changed. You can also take the train to Grossetto and take a bus to Pitigliano, make it an overnighter! A car is your best bet so you can also discover the Etruscan tombs and passageways like Vie Cave in nearby Sovana. Stopping at the curve in front of the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie to take in the glory of this town at it’s best.
Have you ever been to Pitigliano or one of the famous infiorata festivals? If so let me know what you thought of it!