Massa Marittima, the jewel of Maremma
Among the many beautiful hill top towns and villages you find traveling to the south of Tuscany, there is one that, be sure, will capture your attention!
Massa Marittima is an authentic and unexpected jewel hidden in Maremma, land of varied and intriguing scenery, untamed wilderness, crystal sea, uncontaminated beaches, picturesque hill towns…it’s this rich diversity of landscape that makes the Maremma so wonderfully appealing; a new panorama awaits you around every corner.
Main Sights to Visit in Massa Marittima
1.The Duomo or Cathedral of San Cerbone
Entering the Città Vecchia, Old Town, of Massa Marittima, you are soon stuck by the medieval splendor of Piazza Garibaldi, home to the amazing 13th century Duomo, that spectacularly rises on steep stone steps at an angle of the square.
The Duomo, mainly in Pisan Romanesque style, is blessed with a spectacular Gothic tower bell, il campanile. The main door on the facade has wonderful bas-reliefs depicting the story of Saint Cerbone. Inside, wonderful carvings and other works of art are awaiting you, such as the altarpiece by Giovanni Pisano, the Madonna delle Grazie attributed to Simone Martini, and the fresco in the little crypt.
2. Museo Archeologico and Pinacoteca
Still facing Piazza Garibaldi is the nice Palazzo del Podestà, home to the Museo Archeologico and Pinacoteca Comunale, where the main attraction is a Maestà (Virgin in Majesty) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, one of the finest altarpieces in Tuscany.
Amongst the many beautiful Etruscan finds, mainly coming from the site of the Accesa Lake Park, there’s a rare and precious anthropomorphic stele, dating as far as the third millennium BC!
3. Museo della Miniera – Mining Museum
Like Volterra, Massa Marittima has long been a mining town. Five minutes from Piazza Garibaldi, the Museo della Miniera (mining museum) is a must visit! With a guide you will go underground, into an ancient pit in travertine stone, with 3 tunnels running for 700 meters. Really a suggestive itinerary!
There’s a reproduction of the mine’s environment with an exhibition of the tools and machinery used until a few years ago. During the 2nd World War, the galleries were used as an air-raid shelter.
4. Fonte dell’Abbondanza and the Fertility Fresco
In the past, the ancient Fonte dell’Abbondanza, fountain of abundance, supplied the village with drinking water. The fountain, built in the far 1265, is characterized by three nice arches.
What is most striking is the beautiful and particular fresco you see under the first arch, known as the “fertility fresco”, discovered only in 1999 and just recently restored, it depicts a huge tree with a lot of branches having fruits in the form of a penis. There are many theories as to the interpretation of this unusual fresco, that symbolizes fertility and life.
5. The Cassero and The Clock Tower
In the upper town, the Città Nuova of Massa Marittima, you’ll find the Cassero Senese, a mighty fortress with double curtain of walls and the Torre del Candeliere, or Clock Tower, built in 1228. Both the Cassero and the Tower can be visited, the views from the top of the tower are stunning!
Massa Marittima’s circle of defensive walls is impressive, with bastions, towers, and 7 gates.
6. The Balestro del Girifalco
This interesting event is one of the major medieval historical re-enactment in Tuscany, taking place in Massa Marittima twice a year, in May and in August. Il Balestro del Girifalco is a crossbow competition between the city’s districts, called Terzieri. A real journey back to Medieval Tuscany!
7. Ancient Oil Mill
Massa Marittima’s oldest oil mill, dating from the 18th century, still retains its well preserved wooden structures.
The mill is open to the public and allows you to get to know the rural life of the territory.
You can get more detailed information from Massa Marittima’s Museums Website, including info on tickets and opening hours.
Massa Marittima is also well known for its fantastic typical products, the fine Monteregio wine, its excellent olive oil, and its exquisite sweets.
And if you are wondering where to eat in Massa Marittima, do go for La Tana del Brillo Parlante! a characteristic little trattoria located in a very suggestive alley near the Duomo.
Take your seat outside and enjoy fantastic food and wine