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The cave settlement of Vitozza

Archaeological sites

Discovering the lost city of the municipality of Sorano

About 2 km from the center of San Quirico, the most populous hamlet in the municipality of Sorano, stands Vitozza, one of the largest and most important cave settlements in Italy. The settlement can be reached on foot through a path of great charm and undoubted environmental value.

The earliest evidence dates back to the 11th century, when numerous castles were built throughout the area. Vitozza must have been part of a large feud comprising fifteen castles, among which Sorano, Pitigliano, Farnese, Mezzano, etc., are mentioned. The feud must have been of considerable strategic importance as through the fortifications it was possible to control the natural routes to the sea.

Archaeological area of Vitozza
Archaeological area of Vitozza

Vitozza, named “the city of stone”, besides being characterized by the remains of several fortifications and churches, consists of more than 200 caves dug into the tuff and used since the earliest times for dwellings, stables and outbuildings.

The spaces, now abandoned, still retain traces of their use; in fact, there are cisterns for collecting rainwater, wells for waste, niches, holes and curbs for the placement of bedding, stone tanks. According to their use, the caves have been divided into three types: caves for mixed use, that is, composed of living quarters and stables; stables, in which there are mangers, troughs, pens; caves for residential use, found mainly on the southwestern slope, which is more sheltered and better exposed to the sun, characterized by pots for grain, wells for water collection, chimneys.

Vitozza – The Chiesaccia, religious building
Vitozza – The Chiesaccia, religious building

Particularly striking are some rooms marked by the presence of numerous small niches carved into the walls, the so-called columbaria. For a long time, they were considered Roman funerary monuments; recently, thanks to the detailed descriptions of ancient scholars, the prevailing hypothesis is that they are environments excavated in medieval times for the breeding of doves and pigeons.

For those who are animated by the spirit of adventure, past the area called San Angiolino, it is possible to venture into the forest and reach the springs of the Lente River. The exceptionally beautiful natural environment, the bridges and tunnels of the old 19th century aqueduct, the waterfall and the glass well make the visit truly exciting and challenging.

From the springs, through a marked path of about 5 km, it is possible to walk to Sorano.

More attractions in Sorano