Massa Marittima


Massa Marittima is located on the western side of the Colline Metallifere chain (Metalliferous Hills), about 400mt above sea level and approximately 18km from the coast. The surrounding area is covered in Mediterranean shrub, vineyards and olive fields. Massa Marittima has been inhabited since the Proto-historic Era and its mineral resources were already used for mining purposes during the Etruscan period. Lots of small mediaeval villages spread in the whole area and especially on top of the hills due to defensive reasons.

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The hill where Massa Marittima rises slowly turns into a flood plain as you approach the seaside. The area along the coast used to be a lagoon until the end of the XVIII century, when a drainage system was finally built up. The medieval village of Massa Marittima is divided in three different neighbourhoods or “Terzieri”: “Città Vecchia”, “Città Nuova” and “Borgo”. Città Vecchia, the Old Town, develops around Piazza Garibaldi, where all the most important public buildings were built. The New Town is the upper part of the city centre: there you can find the Sienese Fortress and the Torre del Candeliere. The lowest medieval neighbourhood is Borgo, with its Palazzo della Zecca, the mint of Massa Marittima.

A little bit of history The name has roman origins: the word “massa” was used to designate a series of lands ruled under the same administration, while “marittima” was eventually employed towards the end of the XVIII century to indicate its proximity to the coast (mare: sea). The fate of Massa Marittima is strictly linked to the abundance of minerals hidden under ground and to the peculiar morphology of the area, particularly favourable for a human settlement. The village reached its height between the XIII and XIV centuries, when it was declared Libero Comune, an independent City, but many archaeological rests have been found that prove the existence of human population in the area already around 11.500 years ago (Epipaleolithic). The socalled Vado all'Arancio cave, discovered in the '80s next to Cura Nuova is an example. Another impressive yet totally fortuitous archaeological discovery took place in the same area in the '50s: an anthropomorphic Eneolithic slab of stone dated around 5000years ago, which is nowadays exposed in the Archaeological Museum of Massa Marittima, together with a wide variety of artefacts. The area is actually full of natural caves that have been used over the millennia as shelter. Another proof of what just said is the finding in 1958 of Sandrone's fossils, the Oreopithecus bambolii who used to live in the area around 8million years ago. The first actual organized settlements came to life in the IX century b.C, in proximity to the Accesa Lake, roughly 10km away from Massa Marittima. The excavation campaigns run in the '20s and then later on in the '80s brought to light five Etruscan residential units organised in clans. Their main activity was the extraction of minerals, such as iron, silver, copper and lead, which were sent to the Etruscan city of Vetulonia. The medieval urban structure of Massa Marittima started to take shape only from the VIII century a.C. when, for defensive reasons, the feudal lords moved from the coastal area to the inner, hilly sites. From the XII century a.C. Massa Marittima was developing around the Monteregio Castle, back then used as the Bishop's headquarter. By the XIII century the city reached the most powerful and richest phase of its whole life: thanks to the mining activities, Massa Marittima earned so much money that it could buy its independence from the Church and in 1225 it was declared Libero Comune. But a long, decadent chapter started in 1335, when Massa Marittima was conquered by Siena: the area was subject to a great depopulation process, loss of economic power and eventually famine and pestilence. It was only in 1737 that the city started to show an economic recovery: the Lorena Family began to reclaim the lands, invest in infrastructures and revive the mining activities. The mining industry was the local economic foundation even at the end ot the XIX century: lots of mines started to spread in Montebamboli, Fenice Capanne, Gavorrano, Boccheggiano and Niccioleta until 1994, when the last mining site was eventually closed down.

12 November 2016
Palazzo dell'Abbondanza

the Medieval Springs and the Fertility Tree

Le fonti dell’Abbondanza, literally The Abundance Springs, used to be the ancient water source of Massa Marittima in medieval times. The building was built up in […]
12 October 2016

Cathedral of San Cerbone

OPENING HOURS 08:00-12:00 // 15:00-17:00, from 1 June to 30 Septembre until 19:00 Mass Monday-Friday 09:00 Saturday 18:00 Sunday 11:00, 17:00/17:30 Its construction started in the […]
12 November 2016

Piazza Garibaldi

It is one of the most beautiful squares in Tuscany. This wonderful medieval star-shaped square is called Piazza Garibaldi, a sort of open-air theatre surrounded by […]
12 November 2016

the Council Building

This travertine building was the judiciaries headquarter. It consists in three independent buildings, each one built in a different period: the Biserno Tower on the left […]
12 November 2016

the Lord’s Residence

Also known as the Justice Palace or The Magistrate Palace, it overlooks Piazza Garibaldi and was built around the first half of the XIII century, after Massa Marittima […]
12 November 2016

The Bishop’s Residence

It is a medieval construction and it was originally the Lord Vicar’s residence. It was then taken over by the Church and it eventually became Massa […]
12 October 2016

Malfatti Palace

   This impressive structure faces the Council Building and was built in the XIII century. Its most interesting trait is the wide balcony bounded on two […]
12 October 2016

Biserno’s Palace

The building was built in the XIII century and stands next to the Lord’s Residence, in Piazza Garibaldi. It was originally a civilian residence owned by […]
12 October 2016

Pannocchieschi Palace

Once you cross Piazza Garibaldi, keeping the cathedral behind you, you will walk through Corso della Libertà. Here, on the left side you will find this […]
12 November 2016
Casa natale San Bernardino

Albizzeschi Palace

This fourteenth-century building, located at the top of Corso della Libertà, is the birthplace of Bernardino degli Albizzeschi, also known as San Bernardino from Siena. He […]
12 November 2016

Former Church of San Michele

It was built in 1835 to replace the pre-existing Church in San Lorenzo previously demolished. It is made of travertine in Neo-renaissance style with its squared […]
12 October 2016

San Francesco Church

The Church was founded around the first half of the ‘200 by San Francesco, who used to live in Massa Marittima in those years to establish a first core […]
12 October 2016
Torre del Candeliere

The “Chandelier” Tower and the Sienese Fortress

Climbing up through via Moncini, you will eventually find in front of you the impressive Silici Gate. From here you can access Cittanuova (literally “New Town”), […]
12 November 2016

The Armory

The building lies next to the Candeliere Tower, in the medieval neighbourhood called Cittanuova (the New City). It was built in the fifteenth century and, as […]
14 November 2016

the City Walls

The city walls used to completely surround the city centre in medieval times. They were about 2000 mt. long, built in the XII century and then expanded […]
12 October 2016

Former Curch of San Rocco

The Church was built at the end of the XV century but at the beginning of the XVIII c. it was used as stables; afterwards the […]
12 November 2016

“Sol omnibus lucet” Garden

You can find this garden walking through via Norma Parenti, in the medieval neighbourhood called Borgo; a small lane named via Maremma leads to this enchanted […]
16 October 2016

the Mint building

The building is located in Via Norma Parenti, the main road in the Terziere of Borgo. The facade is characterized by two pointed arches on the […]
14 November 2016

Bufalona Springs

These springs were built in the XIII century and are located between Massa Marittima and the village of Ghirlanda. The springs used to provide water to the […]
16 October 2016

Poggio Park

This park is only 10 minutes away from the city centre, in the upper part of Massa Marittima just outside the medieval walls. It is a […]
12 October 2016

Sant’Agostino Church

The building is on Corso Diaz, the main street of the medieval neighbourhood “Cittanuova”. It was built in 1299 to replace the pre-existing Church of San […]
12 November 2016

Former Church of San Pietro all’Orto

It took 5 years to complete this church (1247-1252), built by the will of the Podestà. Back then this was the only church in Cittanuova, until […]
12 November 2016

Remembrance Park

It is in Piazza XXIV Maggio, at the very end of Corso Diaz, in Cittanuova and it was built in 1924 in memory of the First […]
12 November 2016

Clarisse Covent

It is located just behind the Remembrance Park and it was built up in the XIII century. The building used to be a Franciscan convent until […]
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