Isola Rossa


Palazzo Pretorio, Sovana

Duomo of Saints Peter and Paul, Sovana

Its ancient, ochre-coloured houses rising from a plateau, the village of Sovana, partly abandoned, still preserves the ruins of its medieval fortress. This tiny spot was once the seat of the Christian bishop, as well as being a stronghold of the Lombards. Its decline, and preservation in its medieval state, was due to malaria and the need of its surviving population to take refuge in nearby Pitigliano, which took over Sovana’s bishopric in 1660.

The façade of the 12th century Romanesque church of Santa Maria and of several medieval palaces – including Palazzo Pretorio with nine Sieneses governors’ coats of arms on its façade – cast their shadows over Sovana’s delightful Piazza del Pretorio. From the square runs a street of medieval houses, the Via del Duomo, which includes the house in which Pope Gregory VI was born. Curiously, Sovana’s most important church, the Romanesque and Gotic Duomo of Saints Peter annd Paul is situated at the end of the village, in isolated and tree-shaded splendour.

One and a half kilometres away is a yet more venerable site, an Etruscan burial ground dating from the 4th century BC, with the facades of tombs carved from the rock.

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