Just over the northern edge of Lazio the Vie Cave can be found. The Vie Cave are a loose collection of some 15 trackways, created by the Etruscans. They were cut deep into the tuffaceous rock of the area and provide safe passage ~ barely wide enough for two horses to pass, and up to 25 metres deep in places. Archaeologists think they were created to provide safe access between the settlements and cemeteries around Pitigliano and Sovana but they’re not really sure. Another theory says they were actually mining the tuffaceous rock, but I don’t find that theory convincing.
One thing that is for certain is that they are dark and mysterious. Much later when the Christians came to use the passageways, they seem to have felt the need to banish the darkness and “baptize” many of these pathways with crosses or little votive shrines.
I’m told that the best starting point to access the most spectacular section of the Vie Cave is the town of Sovana. The entry to the archaeological park is about a 10 minute walk outside of town, or a couple of minutes drive out of town. Follow the signs for Saturnia and head along the narrow paved road. After going under a small tunnel, the entrance and parking lot is on the right hand side.
I’ve heard that they’re a great thing to visit in summer when it’s searing hot as the caves are always cool, but make sure you have some water and mozzie repellent handy. There are picnic tables dotted about the park too. I’m not sure if you can use the tracks to hike all the way from Sovana to Pitigliano ~ perhaps its not recommended… I imagine it could be quite easy to get lost there.
Or if you happen to be in the area in spring, on the night of the Spring equinox there is a torch-lit procession along the pathway of San Giuseppe which is on the Pitigliano side. How amazing would that be?