The Vie Cave, The Ancient Paths of Etruscan People Carved Into The Rocks

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Vie Cave: An impressive Etruscan road network, vertically carved into the tuff (sometimes 6 meters high), links Pitigliano, Sovana, and Sorano, in Maremma, Tuscany.

The Etrurians were an ancient civilization that existed in central Italy, in an area known as Etruria, and created a federation of city-states with a shared language and culture. They were eventually assimilated by the Romans. The Etrurians are well-known for their sophisticated civilization and great cultural achievements.

toscana tuscany

Le Vie Cave, (in English excavated roads), also known as Cavoni, are a remarkable network of ancient Etruscan roads that connect various settlements and necropolises in the area between Sovana, Sorano, and Pitigliano. These roads are characterized by their trench-like appearance, nestled between steep tuff rock walls, some of which are over twenty meters high. These unique features also served as an effective defense system against potential invaders.

During the Roman era, Le Vie Cave became a part of the road system that connected to the main trunk of the Via Clodia, an ancient road linking Rome and Saturnia. This network included Tuscania, a city in Lazio that branched off from the Via Cassia. These roads played a vital role in facilitating trade and communication in the region.

Today, Le Vie Cave serve as an ideal habitat for various species of ferns, such as the Scolopendrium Vulgare and the Adiantum Capillus Veneris, commonly known as Capelvenere. The lush greenery contrasts beautifully with the rugged tuff landscape, creating a unique blend of nature and history.

During the middle ages, sacred images were placed along the way to ward off evil spirits.

The Vie Cave is today an ideal habitat for various species of ferns, such as Scolopendrium Vulgare and Adiantum Capillus Veneris.

Le Vie Cave in Sovana

Around Sovana, the Vie Cave wind their way inside and around the archaeological area, eventually reconnecting with those from Sorano and Pitigliano. The main ones in Sovana include:

  • Il Cavone
  • Via Cava di San Sebastiano
  • Via Cava di Poggio Prisca

These pathways provide a fascinating journey through the Etruscan history and the stunning landscape of the region.

Le Vie Cave in Sorano

In Sorano, the Vie Cave commence at the Porta dei Merli, descending into the valley of the Lente River. Notable routes include:

  • Via Cava di San Rocco, which ascends the opposite side of the town, passing by the ruins of the Romanesque-style church of San Rocco, which now stands as picturesque ruins. Behind the church, you’ll find an extensive Etruscan necropolis with tombs carved into the tuff.

In the vicinity of Poggio San Rocco and Poggio Croce, numerous Etruscan columbarium tombs are scattered. These tombs consist of cells carved into the rock, stacked in multiple rows. Starting from the Middle Ages, these ancient tombs were repurposed as shelters for pigeons.

Le Vie Cave in Pitigliano

Around Pitigliano, several Vie Cave can be explored, including the one leading to the archaeological area of Sovana. Notable routes include:

  • Le Vie Cave del Gradone, located south of the town, beyond the Meleta River. Here, you’ll also find the open-air archaeological museum, Alberto Manzi, and the seventeenth-century chapel of Saints James and Philip.
  • Le Vie Cave di San Giuseppe
  • Le Vie Cave di Fratenuti
  • Le Vie Cave della Madonna delle Grazie, which stretch to the southwest of the town around the sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie.

Images of the Vie Cave in Tuscany, Italy

Source: 1 , 2 , 3

Last Updated on 2024/01/15

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