Sovana is a one street town with an intriguing Romanesque Cathedral. A stone’s throw from the most impressive Etruscan necropolis in Tuscany, Italy. It’s one of the most picturesque villages in the region.
Sovana lies just a few kilometres from Pitigliano, at the southern end of Tuscany. It doesn’t take long to see the town, but it leaves a lasting impression nonetheless. It’s one of the tufa towns and highlights of the Maremma.
What to see in Sovana, Tuscany Italy
A visit here means walking along the main street via del Pretorio that runs from the ruins of the fortress built by the Aldobrandeschi famiy, the Rocca Aldobrandesca, to the Cathedral. The street leads to the town’s central square Piazza del Pretorio. The square is a delightful example of Medieval architecture: notice the 12th century Palazzo dell’Archivio with its facade adorned by a clock, and the Palazzo Pretorio with its many coats of arms,
The charming small Church of Santa Maria is worth a visit. Once inside the Romanesque church, look out for the 9th century ciborium (a large canopy over the altar, which was a common feature of Early Medieval church architecture). It stands in place of the altar, and it’s one of the oldest of its kind in Tuscany. The frescoes of the late 15th century Sienese School decorate the chapel in front of the entrance.
Sovana’s other surprise awaits you at the other end of the town: Sovana Cathedral is one of the best Romanesque churches in Tuscany. It is built on a pre-existent church (9th century) of which only the crypt remains today.
Take time to explore the church, and its architectural details. While the original facade has been buried in the adjacent building, there’re still some interesting feature. The crypt, the baptisimal font (1434) and the white marble decorations on the tufa building are of particular interest.
You’ll see an eclectic range of figures, peacocks, a knight, a two-tailed siren, typical of early Medieval churches that have been incorporated into the structure.
A glorious past – Sovana was Pope Gregory VII’s hometown
The Cathedral, together with the Fortress built by the family who made Sovana important, speaks of this little town’s glorious history. A time when the great and terrible pope Gregory VII (born Ildebrando Aldobrandeschi, he was Pope from 1073 to 1085) was born here, and Sovana was an episcopal seat, before the decadence began under the Orsini and later the Medici rule.
A strong political figure, Gregory VII was the pope who fought the Emperor for the independence of the Church.
What to see near Sovana
Don’t miss the Sovana Archeological Park “Città del Tufo”, one of the most important Etruscan necropolis in Italy.
If you visit this fascinating area, we’re sure you’ll find plenty of reasons to fall in love with the Maremma. But be careful… You might not want to leave!