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Massa Marittima

Massa Marittima, that despite the name its more than twenty kilometers far from the sea, is considered one of the medieval jewels of Tuscany.

Its origins are wounded by mystery and traces of human settlements of the Bronze Age have been found in its outskirts. In the Etruscan period the zone was known for the wealth of its mines and is probably that the actual city was once the Roman 'Massa Veternense'. After this periods the settlement remained at the borders of the history at least until the 9th century, when it became center of the Episcopalian power thanks to the transfer of the Bishop's Main Seat from Populonia, due to the degrade and abandonment of this city.

The Bishop preferred to leave the coast, became marshy and object of continuous raids of the Greek and Saracens pirates, to retire the court in the heart of the 'Colline Metallifere'.

It seems that first wasn't selected Massa Marittima as seat, in fact are of 1016 the first certain traces of the existence on the site of a church and of the beginning of the 12th century those of the constitution of an Episcopal center.

In the 1225 Massa Marittima becomes a free common, detaching definitely from the Episcopalian control, and from this time begun a period of great prosperity for the city, thanks to the commercial exploitation of the mineral (iron, copper, lead, silver) of which the zone was rich, so much that the name of the town was changed in 'Massa Metallorum'.

Of this epoch are the great monuments as the Romanic-Gothic Cathedral (initiated perhaps already in the 12th century), the Praetorian Palace and the Public Palace (1230), the Public Fountain (1265) all inside the town walls of the down town, still today gifted of two splendid gates (called Salnitro and S.Bernardino).

Then was launched a grandiose plain of transformation of the upper city, call subsequently 'New Town', and here was uttered the 'Codice Minerario', one of the most important juridical medieval documents of Italy and perhaps the most ancient example of job-legislation, with the purpose to control all the extractive, mining and entrepreneurial activities. In the first years of 1300 the city counted between the 10.000 and 20.000 inhabitants.

The prosperity, together with the strategic position, attracted on the city the aims of Pisa, Siena and Florence, in whose arguments Massa was involved up to 1337, when it fell under the Senese domination. Siena immediately planned, thanks to the imposition of strong taxes to the citizens, the reconstruction and the enlargement of the fortifications: a second walls circuit was erected all around the 'New Town' and, sited between the 'two towns', the Fortress. This acted in practice as 'zipper' between the old and new town, dominating both, englobing the ancient fortress and Episcopalian residence of Monteregio (of which don't remain traces) and the primitive Keep, the 'Candeliere tower' today reduced of a third part of its original height, joined to the walls from a bridge with rampant arc. In this point, to the vertex of the Moncini street that colleague the two town parts, rises the magnificent gate 'Alle Silici', with a double breteche (a small projection beyond the wall that covers the entrance below), perhaps the most beautiful and still intact medieval town gate of Tuscany. The form of the Senese fortress is like a 'butterfly', in fact the two wall curtains are separated by only 15 meters at north, in correspondence of the aforesaid gate, and by 42 at south, where they englobed the Episcopalian fortress. These defensive system was studied with the purpose to guarantee safety and external contacts in the case that both the parts of the city fallen in hostile hands. The town walls have the same characteristics of the fortress, endowed with machicoulis (opening between the corbels of the parapet through which the defenders can drop rocks or fire projectiles against an enemy directly below them) in stone, alternated by many square towers. Today are still intact the S.Francesco gate and the whole eastern side of the enclosure while a big part of the western side was demolished between the 18th and 19th century. The year 1348 plague and the loss of the autonomy caused the decline of Massa, so much that in 1408 the population was reduced to 400 persons. In 1555, defeated the Senesis from Charles' V° army allied with that Florentine of the Medici, the city was attached to the Granduchy of Tuscany. However, it was only thanks to the reclamation of the 18th century, made by the Lorena, that the zone reborned with the development of the agriculture and of the extractive activities. The city has been rediscovered, especially in last century, from historical, researchers and artists that have contributed to bring its historical patrimony to the ancient shine, thanks to great works restorations.

Today the town center of Massa Marittima is a forced destination for all the lovers of the Middle Age that visit Tuscany.


Massa Marittima, in the heart of the Tuscan Maremma of Grosseto

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Podere Casetta
Podere Casetta 24,
58025 Monterotondo Marittimo (GR) Tuscany, Italy

Latitude: 43.13582
Longitude: 10.8463

Ph.: +39.0566 916414
Mob.: +39.340.7389035
Fax: 0566 916414