Sovana is a picturesque town in the Tufa Rock area on the plains of the Tuscan Maremma.
Officially one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, Sovana is an ancient centre, a jewel of art and history, just waiting to be discovered!
Sovana sprung up in Etruscan times and became an important centre during the Roman Empire, when it was known as Suana and was the municipal capital. In the Middle Ages, under the rule of the Aldobrandeschi family, a fortress was built and one of the village’s most important subjects was born, Ildebrando di Suana, better known as Pope Gregorio VII. The village was passed, at the end of the 13th century, to the Orsini family, formerly lords of Pitigliano. It then became part of the Republic of Siena and, from the second half of the 16th century, of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, under the rule of the Medici family.
The village is cosy and intimate but rich in old buildings and churches with a very important historical and artistic heritage.
WHAT TO SEE IN SOVANA:
- Cathedral of San Pietro: dating back to the 10th century, it was built by Pope Gregory VII. The building is impressive and houses art and architectural elements of great value, including decorations on the capitals of scenes taken from the Bible, a painting of the Madonna in Gloria with San Benedetto and San Giovanni Gualberto, from 1500, a canvas of the Crucifixion of San Pietro, from 1671, a painting by Tommaso di Tomè, from 1481, depicting Santa Maria Egiziaca, a baptismal font in travertine, from 1944 and a painting by the artist Maria Pascucci of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
- Church of Santa Maria Maggiore: located in Piazza del Pretorio, the church was built in the 12th century. Inside the church is the famous stone ciborium, one of the few in Tuscany to be in the Pre-Romanesque style. Among the works of greater artistic value are two frescoes depicting the Crucifixion between Saints Anthony, Lorenzo, San Sebastiano and San Rocco of 1527, and the Madonna enthroned between Saints Barbara and Lucia and Saints Sebastian and Mamiliano, 1508, and a painting depicting the Four Evangelists and the Eternal Blessing, dated 1500.
- Palazzo dell’Archivio: also known as the Piazza del Pretorio, it was built in the 12th century. Initially it served as a municipal seat, but became the seat of the Sovana Archives in the 17th century. In 1588, the clock was added and about a decade later, the bell tower.
- Palazzo Pretorio: built between the end of the 1100s and the beginning of the 1200s, the palace is located in Piazza del Pretorio. The building houses the visitor centre for the Archaeological Tufa Park and the Documentation Centre of the Sovana Territory. Some original frescoes from the late medieval and Renaissance periods can be seen inside.
- Rocca Aldobrandesca: built in the year 1,000 under the Aldobrandeschi family on the ruins of a pre-existing Etruscan building, it is now an imposing ruin. At various times, the Rocca Aldobrandesca belonged to the Aldobrandeschi family, the Orsini family, the Republic of Siena and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
- Archaeological Park: just outside the village of Sovana, towards the nearby village of San Martino sul Fiora, the Archeological Area of Sovana has famous Vie Cave roads, necropolises and ancient Etruscan-Roman settlements of the Tufa Rock area. Among the main Etruscan tombs to visit are the Tomba Ildebranda, the Tomba Pola, the Tomba della Sirena and the Tomba del Tifone.