A lot of the local rock is a kind of tufa -- it is apparently volcanic and very airy and picked up pre-existing stone as it either moved or landed. It is very light and might also be highly aerated and compressed ash. It is easy to carve for a while, but hardens as it is exposed to air.
Tombs were sometimes very simple -- a hole or tunnel dug into the ground -- and other times more elaborate with carvings and grave goods to help the deceased in his or her next life, much like the Egyptian process.
|Simple hole in the ground, presumably with rock covering|
|Lion made of tufa (which erodes!) from the front of a tomb.|
|This winged mermaid/snake was mounted over the entrance|
to the tomb.
|What is left of the tomb entrance. You can see another lion|
and another winged woman.
|The first tomb discovered. There used to be pillars all across|
the front where you can see one remaining.
|A side tomb for multiple people. There were a couple of these.|
|The interior of a side tomb.|
The Etruscans had also carved out roads in the area, as much as 18 feet below the surface. The roads are curved and provided safety from enemies (hard to shoot an arrow far along a curve, hard to be seen from the top) and a more temperate climate -- cooler in summer, warmer in winter. Many of the road have at least partially collapsed over time, but the ones still there are used by hikers and they were used for transportation to the villages by the locals until the formal roads were built in the 1920s.
|These hidden roads were used by Italian partisans|
to avoid the Nazis in WWII.
Then we headed to another nearby town, Pitigliano, which is famous for its Jewish community. We spent time in the old part of the city and learned the story of the Jews who had lived there. They first arrived from Vatican City, which was much larger at the time and abutted Pitigliano, but they were tossed out. The Orsini (little bear) family, which ruled ther, were very open minded for the time and invited them in and they lived in peace with their Christian neighbors.
|The 'old' city of Pitigliano which included the Jewish Quarter.|
The 'new' section looks pretty old too.
|Bridge over what used to be the moat into the old city.|
|Where the moat was. The very rustic wall was part of the|
original moat wall.
|Interesting sundial on the wall of the Orsini|
|Symbol of the Orsini--the head of a lion on|
a bear's body.
|The gate at the end of this street marks the edge|
of the ghetto.
|Inside the wine cellar (modern barrels)|
|Stair to the wine cellar from the bottom|
|The matzoh bakery. The two sections here are the only caves|
we saw that were painted. It made them MUCH cheerier.
|The 'new' town with the Jewish cemetery on the middle right.|
|The Jewish cemetery. They sometimes used religious images|
like angels that were normally not seen, probably because they
had integrated so well with their Christian neighbors.
|The women's view of the synagogue.|
|The screen the women are hidden behind at the top.|
|Christian church immediately adjacent (though|
above) to the synagogue.
Then it was lunch time (late lunch time) and we focused on the local white wine from the trebbiano grape. Most of the wine we have had with meals has been red, but with a lunch that consisted of a wonderful salad and a zucchini lasagna with a cream sauce, the white was a better match. We had some time to shop before catching the bus and found a shop selling items made from olive wood.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a park overlooking Sorano that gave us a chance to take pictures of this beautiful old hill town.
|More tombs carved into the rock.|
|Sorano, an Etruscan town orginally.|
|Jim and Lynn at the park.|