Sorano, in the province of Grosseto, is nicknamed “Matera in Tuscany” because “it is a walled town stuffed with houses, sitting on a volcanic tuff cliff that has a stronghold on its top” (1865).
The stronghold is the Orsini Fortress, built in 1552 and “guarded by a citadel that is remarkable for its time, and which to this day sufficiently maintains the original look it had when the Aldobrandeschi family first and the Orsini family later had complete control over these and other places in Maremma” (1822).
The houses carved in the tuff walls “are quite miserable, yet each one is decorated with some kind of architectural ornament, because an old municipal law rewarded those which stood out with such works” (1841).
“In the innermost part there is a vast collegiate church. The main street winds down from the high-up castle to the lower part. That is where a tuff rock promontory elevates above the buildings, leveling out on the top like a square, which you can reach by climbing a small staircase carved in the tuff. The fact that tuff is so easy to shape, yet becomes solid and hard, meant many rooms, closets, coops, and cellars were dug out here, some of which of admirable size…” (1841).
The quotations you just read are a small selection from a series of old “chorographic essays” written in the 19th century about the Sorano village.
The gallery below gives another taste of what you can see for real, in this beautiful “Matera in Tuscany”.