Town of Sorano, Italy as seen from Orsini Fortress

Pictures of Sorano Italy, Tuscan Town Carved in Rock

Looking for unique things to see in Tuscany? Sorano is a stoic medieval town carved into a Tuff stone hill over the Lente River in Grosseto, southern Tuscany. Why Sorano Italy is worth the visit and who will appreciate it most. Plus, photos from our visit.

Pictures of Sorano Italy

In Italy a long, long… long time ago, homes were carved into rocky hillsides. While the rebirth of Matera has drawn Instagrammers from around the world, Sorano lies in sleepy repose six hours north. Local cats act as tour guides. Beckoning visitors to explore a maze of medieval towers stacked above cave-like homes, alcoves, and cantinas. Streets too narrow for cars leave the old town silent. If not for smokestack puffing, one might think the Borgo was abandoned.

Just as the thought “are we the only people here?” comes to mind, an elderly couple will appear around the corner, proving no street is too steep for the hearty.

Sorano Italy Photo Gallery

Today’s photographic journey is through Sorano believed to be first inhabited by the Villanovan People as early as 800 BC. Unique among the Cities of Tufo, Sorano feels forgotten by time. With only 3,100 citizens left, in many ways, Sorano feels frozen in time. This is exactly why Sorano is fascinating. It’s unblemished by tourism.

Here are our Top 12 photos from our explorations of Sorano, Italy along with a tip for where to find free parking!

What is Sorano Italy Known For?

Sorano, Italy is famous for being one of three Tuscany cities collectively known as the Cities of Tufo.

A trip to southern Tuscany offers a chance to explore not just one, but three carved cities. Pitigliano, Sovana, and Sorano. Collectively known as Città del Tufo (Cities of Tufo) these medieval hillside towns are made of Tuff. Soft enough to carve, and solid enough to construct, Tuff is a type of stone formed from volcanic ash that has cooled and compacted into solid rock.

What Visiting Sorano is Like

The photo below is looking through an arch from Sorano. If you look closely carved doorways to Etruscan remains can be seen across the hillside over the river Lente.

Archway of Sorano Italy
Archway in the town of Sorano Italy overlooking southern Tuscany

I found this view fascinating wondering what it must have been like to get home!

The following photo shows an abandoned barbershop, decorated for a Christmas Nativity Walk. At 5’8″ the carved ceiling arched just a few inches above my head at its highest point.

Sorano Italy Tufo Cave Home
Carved cavelike abandoned barbershop in Sorano, Italy

Thanks to steel construction, modern architecture is all about large windows, and bright and airy spaces. While in contrast, Sorano offers a fascinating glimpse back into medieval times. Specifically, medieval architecture. The people built Sorano when the primary need for a home was protection against invasion.

Wherever you look in Italy you can spot ancient walled cities on hilltops. Although there are similarities like arched doorways, piazzas, and of course churches, each town has its own unique character. Historically towns in Italy changed hands many times.

In the mid-800s the Aldobrandeschi family controlled Sorano. By 1417 it was part of the Republic of Siena before becoming independent in 1556. It wasn’t until 1860 when the Duchy of Tuscany annexed Sorano that it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Is Sorano Italy Worth Visiting?

Sorano is a stoic medieval town. It’s a fair question to ask, is Sorano worth a visit? To be sure, if you like Medieval history Sorano, Italy is worth visiting. Likewise if seeing the authentic side of Italy appeals to you, Sorano, Italy is worth Visiting. Lastly, if you enjoy panoramic views and photographing landscapes yes, Sorano is definitely worth visiting.

Parking in Sorano

If you have a car while visiting Tuscany, parking next to Orsini Fortress is free and offers elevated views of Sorano and Etruscan remains below. The walk from the fortress is all downhill. The further down you walk, the more fascinating the town becomes. Sorano is however a steep town. The hike back up is widely acknowledged as a challenge.

One thing I’ve learned moving to Italy is that Nonnas are surprisingly adept at walking uphill. It’s said to be one of the reasons Italians have a long life expectancy. Hiking steep hills every day!

Just remember to take a camera. The history, textures, and views make Sorano a photographic wonder. Plus, taking a photo is the perfect foil for stopping to catch one’s breath.

More Tuscan Trip Ideas


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    1. Thank you! My Husband Paolo is passionate about sharing the beauty he sees again in his country.

  1. I’m sure you will. With me, I was learning Russian and had to do a lot of translation exercises. That was the best way to learn though

  2. That’s a great piece about Sorano. I noticed that some photos you have taken for some previous posts look like they are out of Life is Beautiful. I just saw that movie the other day and it reminded me of you! 😊

    1. Thank you! What a beautiful movie! It’s been ages since I’ve seen it but now I think I’m overdue for watching it again. I actually saw it ages ago in a small art-house theater in Grandview, Ohio. Oh man did I cry and laugh and smile and yep, time to watch it again!

      1. I know! It’s so beautiful and so Italian too! I think the most touching part is how he doesn’t want his son to get PTSD from being in the camp and remain a kid for longer. I recently saw it and it hit me rather hard considering what’s happening in the US

      2. Also, I love seeing it in Italian with English subtitles because seeing it in English doesn’t do it justice!

        1. You’re so right there. As a film lover, I prefer movies in their native language with subtitles. Dubbing is… always weird! If you haven’t seen King of Masks you might love it too. Mid 1990s Chinese film directed by Wu Tianming. There are cultural discomforts but the unexpected fatherly love that grows is very touching.

          1. Right? I have had practice with translation so I can tell a good translation from bad. I will put that on my list. Thank you!

            1. I hope you enjoy it! I’m hoping in time I can get to a level where I can translate Italian. Such a great skill to have in life you’ve got there.

          2. I have watched a lot of Chinese films actually. They are really cool, especially the martial arts parts!

  3. It definitely looks like it’s worth a visit. I’d love to see it myself some day, great pictures!

    1. Thank you for the compliment on the photos. This is most definitely a town photographers
      find inspiration in!