Once the southern border of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Pitigliano is actually closer to Rome than to Florence, and a popular tourist destination for its historical Jewish landmarks. It was referred to as "Little Jerusalem" for its bustling Jewish life until the mid-19th century, as well as the shape and color of its hills.
The site of the synagogue in medieval Pitigliano is where the ghetto was finally set up in 1622 by the Medici. Its famous prayer room was visited by Duke Peter Leopold, who wrote about it in his travel diaries, especially noting the beauty of its design. In the 1960's, however, as was the fate of many of the buildings in the immediate vicinity, the building walls collapsed down the hill along with its archives and furnishings. In 1995 restoration began to return it to its original grandeur.
There are still shops in this old Jewish ghetto where one can even buy kosher wine. Popular local sweets like the Stratti honey and walnut biscuit and Bolli, which are doughnuts with anis seed, boast a little-known Jewish origin.
The Jewish cemetery of Pitigliano is also a curious find and worth the visit for its unusual tombstones.
At one time Pitigliano was a haven for those wishing to avoid the ghettos of Florence and Rome, although in 1622 the Medicis established a ghetto here as well. In spite of this segregation, it remained a lively rural Jewish center which was sometimes dubbed "little Jerusalem". In fact, up until Emancipation, the Jewish population here counted for thirty percent of the local population. After Emancipation, Jews left Pitigliano for other cities. The beautiful landscape and historical splendor are well worth a visit.