Pretty little European village off beaten track named best ‘hidden gem’ holiday

Nestled at the top of a tuff cliff, the Tuscan village of Pitigliano treats visitors to a stunning experience before they even get the chance to step out of their cars.

From the tuff cliffs to the typical flavours of the area, visiting this small hidden Italian gem means immersing yourself in wild and authentic panoramas and intense specialities.

Legend has it the village was founded in ancient Roman times by two Etruscan thieves, Petilio and Celiano, who ran away from Rome after stealing Jupiter’s golden crown.

Once they reached Tuscany, they founded the small settlement of Petiliano – a monicker coined by the union of their names that has since evolved into Pitigliano.

Pitigliano’s cliff, the large rock on which the village was built, has numerous tuff caves which in the past were used to the majority of the historical homes visitors can still see today.

Holidaymakers are advised to start off their visit getting lost in Pitigliano’s secondary alleys where they will get to enjoy some splendid views of the entire surrounding valley.

They will also get the chance to take a walk along Pitigliano’s Vie Cave, giant structures dug into the tuff rock by the Etruscans, which today represent unique works of great historical-cultural importance.

The striking Parco Orsini is yet another masterpiece of beauty, with the ruins of St.Francis’s church framing a volcanic rock opening over the valley below.

Dubbed the Little Jerusalem because of its long-established links with the Jewish faith, this small Tuscan treasure is home to one of Italy’s most ancient synagogues, one of only five across the whole region.

The community first settled in the 1600s, when they sought the protection of the Orsini family from persecution in the neighbouring Papal State.

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Over the centuries, Jewish and Tuscan traditions intermingled and visitors can today witness the harmonious melange of cultures in the historic Jewish bakery and Kosher butcher shop.

Those looking for extra relaxation will only have to travel a few minutes west to reach the town of Saturnia, which is renowned across Italy for its thermal baths.

Foodies will not go wrong with a visit to Tuscany, but much like all towns in the region, Pitigliano has developed some specialities they should not be missing.

Ciaffarogni are one of the oldest recipes in the Maremma region. A local spin on crepes, this thin and tasty flour-and-egg concoction is normally served with pecorino cheese or sugar.

Sweet-toothed visitors will also get their fill with Sfrattos – literally evictions – of Pitigliano.

The name of this typical Jewish filled biscuit was inspired by an edict issued by Grand Duke Cosimo II de’ Medici, who took over from the Orsinis, in which he ordered the community in Sovana and Sorano to leave their home to move into Pitigliano’s ghetto.

Nearly 100 years later, the community devised these sweets shaped like the stick Cosimo’s men used to violently knock on their doors to inform them of their eviction.

Sfrattos are normally filled with honey, candied orange peels, walnuts, anise and nutmeg which give a sweet flavour and an intense aroma

Pitigliano and its surroundings are one of the most interesting tourist areas of Lower Tuscany. Visitors, who come here from neighbouring regions or from abroad, can admire numerous examples of Tuscan Renaissance architecture.

The village also boasts good links to the nearby municipalities of Sovana and Sorano, the latter known as the “Matera of Tuscany”, and the cities of Grosseto and Florence – respectively 80km and 188km north of Pitigliano.

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