Sovana, Italy Walking Tour -[4K|UHD] - with Captions
Welcome to Sovana, Italy! These are the remains of the 11-century military fortress known as Rocca Aldobrandesca, built by the Aldobrandeschi family. The fortress was built here to defend the most vulnerable approach to the town, the Porta della Rocca, which had been the town's only entrance for centuries. The fortress had been enlarged and restored several times over the centuries but it was finally dismantled and abandoned in the 17th century. The castle was built on a rock surface shaped by the ancient Etruscans around the 7th century BC.
The castle is unfortunately closed off to visitors and completely overgrown inside. The car to the right just drove up the second entrance to the town that was built in 1558 by the Medici family... ...and the car just drove back out of down through the original entrance. We are now walking down the only street through town, Via del Pretorio, which leads straight to the main piazza.
Sovana is located in an area of Italy known as the Maremma, which includes much of south-western Tuscany and part of northern Lazio. Most of these buildings here along the road date back to between the 12th and 15th centuries. The town is built on a raised spur of soft tufa rock and was originally protected by a large Etruscan wall around the perimeter.
The town gained importance during Etruscan times but there is no surviving documentation about the town's history during Roman times. The town experienced another period of prosperity starting in the 11th century when the Aldobrandeschi, an Italian noble family began their rule of the area. Surrounding the piazza are Sovana's most important buildings. Directly to the left is the oldest church in Sovana, the Church of San Mamiliano, which dates back to the 6th century! The current population of Sovana is 122 residents.
This 12th century palace is decorated with several different coat of arms. Next to the palace is the Loggia del Capitano, the house of the town's governing captain. Today, the Loggia del Capitano is a restaurant.
This tall and narrow 12th century building was once the chamber of the council and the archive repository. The clock still works and operates using an elaborate system of stone weights linked with ropes. The original entrance to this 12th century church was along the side that now adjacent to the Palazzo Bourbon del Monte. You can see the door the Church of San Mamiliano up ahead on the right. The Palazzo Bourbon del Monte is the new kid on the block, dating back to the 17th century.
This altar structure, known as a ciborium, dates back to the 8th century and was originally place in the Cathedral of Sovana until it was moved here in the 11th or 12th century. These frescoes are of the Sienese School and date back to the 15th century. On the ceiling is Christ in benediction with the four Evangelists at each corner.
This altar piece is over 1,200 years old! You can still see the outline of the original entrance here at the back of the church. This recessed arch shows the Crucifixion with St. Anthony and St. Lawrence on either side of Christ. This painting of the Madonna and Child was painted by Andrea di Niccolo in 1508, 513 years ago. During Etruscan times, the town was known as Svea, later Latinized into "Suana" which eventually became Sovana.
There are ancient Etruscan ruins all over the area including a necropolis in the valley below. The town name of Svea appears on some of the tombs. Sovana did eventually succumb to the Romans in the 3rd century BC and although the town was politically Roman, it was able to its local culture, language and writing. Between 529 and 605, Sovana was conqured by the Lombards and Aldobrandeschi family ruled the area making Sovana the capital of the region.
When the Orsini family took control of the area in the 15th century, they moved the capital to Pitigliano, after which the importance of Sovana declined. In the years that followed, Sovana experienced even further devastation as a result of Malaria spreading from the swamplands in the surrounding valley. In the 19th century, only about 60 people lived in Sovana. At the end of this road we are going find the Duomo of Sovana, also known as the Cathedral of St. Peter. This road continues down to local cemetery as well as the main highway which requires walking down a short series of steps to reach the bottom. The cathedral was built in the 11th century over an existing church from the 8th century.
After several modifications between the 12th and 14th centuries, the church took on the appearance it has today. Tradition has it that the bishop of Palermo , Mamiliano , carried out evangelization work in Sovana at the beginning of the 4th century . This early conversion to Christianity earned Sovana the appointment, received in the 5th century , as a bishopric.
This marble doorway is one of the most remarkable features of the church in that it contains symbols of medieval spiritualism. We will look at it more closely after exiting the church. The church is characterized by flask pillars with capitals that divide the church into three naves. This baptismal font can apparently move. There are pictures of it online in other parts of the church. It was here that the altar, now found in the other church, once stood. Many of the decorations on the walls were taken from the church that stood here before this one.
Down in the 7th century crypt, there is an urn which contains the relics of Saint Mamiliano, Sovana's patron saint. These relics of Saint Mamiliano were originally in the sarcophagus next to the altar. The body of Arch Bishop Saint Mamiliano The marble entrance has several carved images including a hovering human spirit on the upper arch.
Here on the right is a knight armed with a shield and sword. The two lion heads with jaws open symbolize a warning that one is crossing the threshold between two worlds: profane and divine. Here are two peacocks facing each other which symbolize immortality. We are now going to take a walk around the gardens of the Sovana Hotel & Resort which contains Etruscan ruins.
The entrance to the gardens is through the hotel. Ruins of an Etruscan Temple This small amphitheater is used for concerts and exhibitions. This is Via Rodolfo Siviero which leads straight back to the piazza. One of the more interesting stories in Sovana's history is the one about Roman treasure. In 2004, while restoration work was being carried out on the Church of San Mamiliano, a vase was discovered two meters below the ground. The vase contained 498 gold coins dating back the the 5th century AD.
The coins, which were minted in Constantinople, were most likely hidden during a period of raids in the area. The oldest coins were from the time of Honorius and the most recent coins were from the reign of Zeno, covering the entire 5th century. The coins were in exceptionally good condition and had a value of around 4 million euro. The Church of San Mamiliano is now a museum and the coins were on display there until 2019 when..... ..thieves, who were familiar with the museum's security system, broke into the museum and stole 66 of the 83 gold coins on display. The thieves, who were pressed for time, were not able to break through all the safety glass, but they were able to also steal security camera footage. The treasure of Sovana, for which the museum was created, is said to correspond to the famous "Treasure of Monte Cristo" which Alexandre Dumas wrote, based on popular legends.
The San Mamiliano Museum (right) was closed at the time of this video.