I had been travelling around Tuscany for years, but somehow I never made it to the southern part, close to Lazio. This is a less visited area of Tuscany, quite far from the Florence-Siena-Pisa triangle, so most tourist groups avoid it. This fact makes it wonderfully quiet. Pitigliano perched on top of a volcanic tuff ridge is an absolutely impressive sight, you'll feel the urge to stop and take photos already as you are approaching. It's part of the so-called Borghi del tufo, an area of towns carved out of tuff stone.
One day we decided to spend a long weekend in Saturnia and visit a part of the Maremma region. I totally fell in love with three towns: Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano. Although all three towns are magical, we hardly met anyone there. Because of my work as a tour leader of small groups I spent lot of time trying to figure out how to avoid crowds in Florence, Pisa or Rome, so spending time in such a quiet and peaceful area was a really refreshing experience for me.
This area is quite far from Florence or Pisa, you can reach it easier and faster if you fly to Rome and rent a car from there. With a 2-hour drive you can start discovering these splendid places, and accommodation is also more affordable than in the north.
Pitigliano is also called the Jerusalem of Tuscany because of the long history of the Jewish community here. Many Jewish people escaped Rome and found new home in Pitigliano. Today you can visit the Ghetto area with its Synagogue, the Hebrew Cemetery, the Kosher butcher or the ritual bath.
Under the houses there is a huge cave and cellar system. In Etruscan times these were used as tombs, while later mainly to store local wine. Of course wine is made here even today. The streets are so quiet it does not surprise anyone to see some wine-making right in the middle of a small alley.