Sorano, Italy Walking tour - The Matera of Tuscany [4K | 50fps]
Welcome to Sorano, Italy, located in the province of Grosseto in southern Tuscany. This walk begins at the central keep of the Orini Fortress, a perfect example of medieval military architecture As we pass through the outer walls, we will arrive at the medieval castle at the center of the fortress. The fortress was built in three phases, starting with the castle, then the central keep, bastions and connecting rampart walls, and then finally the Palazzo Ricci Buscatti, a private residence added in the 19th century. This castle was built in the 11th century as a stronghold to protect the Aldobrandeschi family. Here you can see a round tower with holes where the chains of a drawbridge used to be.
The outer fortress was first built by the Aldobrandeschi family in the early 14th century and then completely renovated in 1552 by Niccolò IV Orsini. The entire complex has now been converted into a hotel and medieval museum. We are now arriving at the Piazza dei Cairoli, where visitors begin the tour. Tickets for the tour cost €4.00 with reduced rates for children.
While in the museum, visitors can explore underground tunnels, archaeological discoveries and the wonderful tower room with its original 15th century frescoes. This enchanting medieval village is built on a spur of volcanic rock sitting over the Lente River Valley. This is now 1:38 pm. After flying my drone, I realized I had missed a scenic lookout along the road below so I walked this section of the tour again. These steps behind the fortress lead right down into the heart of the town. These holes were used for the rigging of a gate. This path behind the fortress is called Via Della Fortezza.
The most characterizing feature in this area is the soft volcanic rock known as Tuff. The ancient Etruscans who once lived in this area carved their homes directly into the soft rock. As you drive along the roads here in the area, you will see the caves once inhabited by the ancient Etruscans, many of which are still used today as storehouses. Many of the houses in the town have rooms and cellars carved directly into the rock.
For this reason, Sorano has been nicknamed the Matera of Tuscany. This is the view I missed when I filmed the walk earlier in the day. The structure at the at the far end of town is called Masso Leopoldino, a fortress that was built in the 18th century. Sorano is one of three towns in the area which have been nicknamed the Cities of Tuff. The other two towns are Sovana and Pitigliano. The settlements of Sorano, Sovana and Pitigliano all have Etruscan origins.
This path leads down the Church of San Nicola, straight ahead, which was closed due to restoration. We are now back to the walk filmed earlier in the day. We are now going to exit the historic center so you can see one of the two main city gates. Here we are passing through the back side of the Porta di Sopra and into the Piazza Pietro Busatti.
This is a public fountain but I have not been able to find any information about its history. The three Cities of Tuff are also known for their significant Jewish communities who settled here in the 15th century. There were Jewish communities in Tuscany going as far back as Roman times. Now we are back to the same walk just filmed later in the day. Many Jewish families were expelled by the Papal States but were well received by the Orsini family here in the region of Tuscany. Here we are entering into a neighborhood still known as the Jewish Ghetto (Ghetto Ebraico). This was the gate that kept the Jews confined at night.
The Orsini family eagerly hosted the Jews, who were often bankers and artisans, who could help revitalize the economy which was mainly based on agriculture. In the 17th century, the Medici family of Florence conquered the region and they saw the Jews as a threat to their own banking ambitions. As a result, Jews were confined here in the ghettos starting in 1619. This street is called Via del Ghetto. We are now just below the street where earlier we had a scenic view of the town.
These steps to the left lead up to the road. There is a plaque on the wall to the left in remembrance of the Jews, just as we pass through this covered archway. Although not visible from here, down below are the ancient Etruscan roads. All throughout the Lente Valley and hills are ancient Etruscan tombs and roads carved right in to the soft volcanic rock. The paths which have been cut through the volcanic rock are known as the “Vie Cave” and they wind their way through the ancient Etruscan necropolises. The paths of the Vie Cave are dug deep into the rock between walls which can be as high as 25 meters.
We are reaching the end of town and here on the left is the giant building which can be seen in several of the drone shots. It does not look that big from this side. We are now heading up to the Masso Leopoldino. Oh no! It's closed! Now it's open! :) I had to come back two days later on a day when this fortress was actually open. This is now Wednesday, July 29th, the same day I filmed the tour of the hot springs. This fortress was built in the 18th century over a pre-existing medieval construction called Rocca Vecchia. At the far end is a clock tower.
This structure was used both as a garrison and as a place for refuge for the population in the event of an enemy siege. There used to be a church in the interior of this structure that was built in 1565. Between 1801 and 1804, part of this structure collapsed after series of landslides. The landslides caused dozens of deaths and the church on the interior was destroyed. The structure was renamed Masso Leopoldino, in honor of the Grand Duke who financed the the restoration project in the following decades.
This large building was once the town granary but it is now used to host exhibitions and other cultural events. It is a bit difficult to see, but there are several ancent Etruscan cave dwellings in the bare cliff face on the other side of the valley. Notice how the dwellings are built right into the tufa rock.
The Jewish community left Sorano in the early twentieth century. After the last world war the Sorano ghetto went towards an unprecedented phase of decay, which reached its peak with its total abandonment in the early nineties . We are now heading down to the other main city gate, Porta dei Merli, also known as the Porta di Sotto. This house is built right over the path and the bottom floor has collapsed allowed you to see how the structure was built.
We will look at it a bit more on the way back up. Let's go inside! I'm not sure if this counts as breaking into someone's house or not. :) It is very cold inside. The road leads down to the Lente River and the ancient Etruscan road known as Vie Cave. These walls were originally built by the Aldobrandeschi family in the 12th century and then refortified by the Orsini family years later. Here you can see the holes in the gate which once held the chains for a drawbridge.
Please remember to hit the Like button. This really helps out my channel. Grazie! Did you do it? :) This street leads back up to the Jewish Ghetto. I stopped and talked with this old man for about 15 minutes. He was definitely eager to talk. :) You can see more caves along the road in the distance.