Pitigliano lies at the meeting point of three river valleys of the Lente, the Procchio and the Meleta. The abundance of water and the high easily defended position of the town contributed to the developement of eary settlements which in turn became prosperous communities. The numerous subterranean hot water springs were also of primary importance. The first community that settled here were the Villanovan civilazation around the Iron age (1000 BC). They were the predecessors of the Etruscans that were of oriental origin. The view you see above is from the Church Madonna delle Grazie. The medieval centre is perfectly intact and the tufa houses with terracotta roofs, immerge from the rock in all shapes and sizes one on top of the other. The volcanic tufa is found everywhere. The lords of this area in the medieval times were the Aldobrandeschi family. They were followed by the Orsini in 1293 which was a powerful roman guelf family. The centuries that passed were marked by constant fightings with the aggressive rulers of Siena and Orvieto. Social injustice was the order of the day. The convention of ins primae noctis was still in practice and rebellion by the population of Pitigliano in one case forced the Orsini counts to leave the city. The impressive fortress was built to defend the most exposed side of the town while all the other directions were protected by the vertical drop into the river valleys. A jewish community begins to appear in the 16 th C. The main reason of the establishment of a Hebrew community here was the continual persecution and the precariuos conditions suffered by the jews in the Papal State.
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