"Sovana - more than just a road" Sovana by iandsmith
Sovana Travel Guide: 18 reviews and 35 photos
There are two ways of getting to Sovana. Chances are you will be coming from Sorana, as I did. If so, this will be the impressive sight that greets you. The old castle, part crumbling ruin, part dominant wall is the Rocca Aldobrandesco and dates from the XIth century though it was many times restored and enlarged over the next three centuries and finally abandoned in the XVIIth.
Originally it had only one entrance via a drawbridge as it was isolated from the town by a deep cut in the rock.
The second entrance is a large double arched portal and was built at the instigation of Cosimo de Medici in the mid 16th century.
This is why I came to Sovana. The fabulous Etruscan necropli that abound all around the area. Here I am on one of the many archeological walkways checking out "Il Cavatore", one of the more noted sites but far from the best.
Caves are numerous all around the town for kilometres in any direction as the tufa rock makes for easy digging and the cliffs are supplied by the courses of the Calesine and Folonia Rivers which have their confluence in the valley below.
The following comes from a public domain screed and was written by a man called George Dennis:
"That wide district on the frontiers of the Tuscan and Roman States is so rarely trodden by the foot of a traveller, even of an antiquary, that it can be no matter of surprise that relics of ancient art should exist there, and be utterly unknown to the world — gazed at only with stupid astonishment by the peasantry, or else more stupidly unheeded. In a country almost depopulated by malaria, inhabited only by shepherds and husbandmen, and never traversed by the educated and intelligent, the most striking monuments may remain for ages unnoticed."
In the spring of 1843, Mr. Ainsley, my former fellow-traveller in Etruria, was making a third tour through this interesting land, and, not content with beaten tracks, he penetrated to Pitigliano, and thence made an excursion to Sovana, in quest of antiquities. Being aware that that place was known only as the site of the Roman Suana, he had no reason to expect relics of Etruscan times; yet, having established such an antiquity for Pitigliano, he shrewdly suspected the same for the neighbouring site. Here he inquired for antiquities. Antiquities! — "che roba è?" Nobody had ever heard of such "stuff" at Sovana. From the provost to the hind, all were alike ignorant. But his curiosity was excited by some columbaria and rock-hewn tombs of familiar character, and he proceeded to explore the surrounding ravines.
His suspicions were soon confirmed. Here were tombs with rock-hewn façade as at Norchia and Castel d'Asso,— and, following the range of cliffs, he came to a monument in the form of a temple, in a style both unique and beautiful. His surprise and delight at this discovery explained to the villagers who accompanied him the nature of the objects he was seeking. They were no less astonished to find a stranger display such interest in what to their simple mind was meaningless, or was regarded as a mere "scherzo" — a freak of Nature imitating Art, or a fanciful work carved in an idle or wanton mood by the "rude forefathers of the hamlet." "Scherzi, scherzi! — is that the roba you want? there are plenty of such whims!" cried they; and they led him on from one rock-hewn monument to another, which excited his surprise and admiration more and more by their multitude, variety, and novel character, and afforded him convincing evidence of the Etruscan origin of Sovana. He returned day after day to the spot, and in defiance of a midsummer sun, and its noxious influences, persevered till he had made finished drawings of the most remarkable monuments, and taken their dimensions with the fullest detail. He forthwith sent a description of this necropolis to the Archaeological Institute of Rome, together with drawings, plans, and sections of the principal tombs for publication. In truth, he has left little to be done by future visitors to Sovana, so detailed and accurate are his notices and drawings, and such the zeal with which he prosecuted his researches for the benefit of antiquarian science."
An extraordinary story......written by George in 1848!
- Pros:You won't get lost! Interesting history
- Cons:It's small
- In a nutshell:The best Etruscan tombs anywhere, some wonderful scenery
The highly scenic road leading to Sovana (from Sorana) descends to the Lente Gorge before winding its way up the other... more travel advice
I wasn't expecting this type of stuff till I got to Sovana but soon after I crossed the bridge on the way out of town a... more travel advice
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