Sorano has and always will be one of the Maremma’s most impressive cities.

Already inhabited during the Bronze Age, Sorano has more than its fair share of archaeological splendours, and they’re all located in what can only be described as a picturesque and completely unspoilt landscape. Some places get all the luck, right?

If you weren’t already feeling a little green with envy, Sorano is also one of the few places in Italy to still have all of its pre-Roman structures more or less intact.

The countryside is littered with necropolises, ancient cities, the Vie Cave roads and sites that were once used for religious rites.

While archeologists still don’t know what exactly it was about Sorano that drew the Etruscans and Romans, they have found evidence to suggest it was an important rest stop in the middle of a highway between the two civilisations.

Even if you have no interest in ancient history, the countryside is still worth a visit, if only to walk through the tall oaks and experience the wild and prehistoric atmosphere that defines the Maremma.

Sorano itself has made no attempts to rein in this antiquated vibe.

From the time when the Romans seized control to the days of the medieval Aldobrandeschi and the rein of Fernando II de’Medici, Sorano has always been a city of great prominence  and even greater beauty. No ruler has been able to take that away.

Let’s put it this way – things don’t get much more genuine. Today, the city is one of the three Città del Tufo – a title it has earned thanks the building material that defines its walls, shapes its streets and adds character to its buildings.

With its tufo rock, sharp red rooftops and impressive history, Sorano is the Siena of the Maremma. Only far older and imbued with the sort of country charm and authenticity that tourist-swamped Siena wishes it had.

The locals are as unique as the city itself. More refined than their ‘contadini’ neighbours, in their estimation anyway, the residents of Sorano are always ready to educate foreigners on the finer details of local history, tradition and, of course, cuisine.

To find out more about Sorano, check out our online guide. 

What to see in Sorano

Masso Leopoldino: defensive construction dating back to 1700 by the Lorraine family, it stands on the opposite side of the Orsini Fortress. Particularly interesting is the clock tower that stands out from above, and the beautiful panoramic terrace, from which you can admire the splendid view over the valley of the Lente river.

Palazzo Comitale: this is the ancient residence of the Orsini family before their transfer of the Orsini Fortress. The building still retains its Renaissance forms today, from its elegant portal where an inscription dedicated to Count Ludovico Orsini stands out, the internal courtyard with the loggia and arches.

Orsini Fortress: the construction of the fortress dates back to the period of the Aldobrandesca domination, placed in a dominant position over the town, the castle was restored by the Orsini, who made it their official residence. The fortress now houses the Museum of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Church of San Niccolò: built at the behest of Margherita Aldobrandeschi between 1290 and 1300, it is the main sacred building in the village of Sorano. The interior has an irregular Latin cross, houses a wooden crucifix donated by Cosimo III Medici in 1600, two paintings depicting San Domenico Sorretto from the crowned Madonna attributed to the painter Vanni, and San Giuseppe with Child. The Church became a collegiate church in 1509.

Sorano History

The first evidence regarding the existence of a town in Sorano dates back to the third century BC, during the Roman conquest of the Etruscan territories. In Etruscan times, the city of Sorano probably lived under the influence of the nearby, and more powerful, Sovana.

The real history of Sorano begins in 862, in fact in that year, on 9 October, the Constitution of the Aldobrandesca County was stipulated by the Emperor Ludwig II and from this moment the town of Sorano acquires political and economic importance. From 862 to 1312 Sorano remained under the control of the Aldobrandeschi family, following the fate of the county, taking part in the struggles to maintain independence from the Republic of Siena and enjoying the fortunes of the family which, in 1221, boasted as many as 22 vassals between counts and visconti. At the end of the Aldobrandesco dominion Margherita, the only daughter of Ildebrandino Aldobrandeschi, was in power, she married Count Guido di Montfort in her first marriage but, following the killing of Henry of Cornwall in the Church of San Silvestro in Viterbo by Guido di Montfort and the consequent revocation to the same of the role of Vicar of Tuscany, Margherita canceled the wedding, later remarrying 5 times. The eventful private life of Margherita put the county in a state of decline until the fall of the Aldobrandeschi dynasty, thanks to the marriage of his daughter Margherita Montfort, with Count Romano Orsini, in fact, the county passed under the control of the Orsini Counts.

Under the policy of the Orsini, Sorano had a period of extraordinary wealth and economic growth, the city had in fact the most important role in the struggles against the expansionist aims of the Republic of Siena, even though it was subjected to the Sienese in 1417.

In 1555 at the fall of the Republic of Siena, Sorano was reconquered by the Orsini and Count Niccolò IV Orsini, in 1556, again legitimized its full ownership. However, the Medici never gave up on the city of Sorano and in 1640, upon the death of Count Bertoldo Orsini, the city passed definitively under the control of the city of Florence, under which it remained until 1737 when the family came to the government. of the Lorraine.

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