As mentioned in the intro page, and in many of my tips, NO trip to Tuscany would be complete without stopping into Massa Marittima - if not only for a couple of hours! The official website for the town is listed below - please take the time to have a look through - most of the information has also been translated into English also - so don't worry if you're Italian isn't up to scratch!
This describes some of the things about the town. The town was once more in demand when mining for copper and other minerals in the area. The Abbandanza family controlled a lot of the sector and they got wealthy, obviously. The founding of the city dates back to around 1225 and it was part of strife involving Siena for years. The development of the town began in 1300's and the main square is called Piazza Garibaldi, where main focus was prevalent.
A nice place to take a relaxing walk and do some shopping. The lower part is more active than the upper portion, where the locals live mostly. The town is a nice place to take a casual walk and enjoy the customs as you watch it go by. The town is active with a lot of locals and not many tourists, even though were there off season.
On the front of the church are the coats of arms for the families involved in the town's growth and traditions, as well as ornate Baroque and decorative sculptures. They are made of molded concrete, with the mix they used back then; sand, designated clay and limestone.
This would have to be one of the most incredible sculptures I've ever seen. Done in Bronze, you can see the size of it, with Tim and Imogen standing in front of it. It truly is breathtaking, and it's literally the first thing that grabs your attention once you walk into the main Town Square.
I've attached the official Massa Marittima website (in English), which has some information for anyone wishing to plan a trip :)
The Siennese Fortress and the Chandelier Tower, are linked together by an arch called the Siennese Arch.
Both of these structures are situated near to the Monteregio’s Castle that was later restructured and today is the seat of the Museum of Agricultural Civilization.
The Siennese government apparently used this fortress to divide the people of Massa Marittima so that they could not stand up against anyone who wanted to invade!!!
I have devoted an entire travellogue to the sunset we experienced from Massa Marittima. This is just a taste of what it looked like.
At the end of a very big day of walking through all of the tiny narrow backstreets, it was nice to stand at the top of the hill and take in this view.
We then drove to Follonica - an awesome seaside city - we will start on making this page soon.
For those of you who have driven through Tuscany, you will probably know that there are so many little villages, that after a few days, you think "Oh, we'll just skip this one and see what's around the corner".
This is what Massa Marittima looks like from a distance - nothing overly impressive from afar.
We'd known absolutely nothing about this place, but something made us stop anyway. We are truly glad we did, because it ended up being one of our favourite villages in all of Tuscany.
I can't say enough, how beautiful and truly unique this little Tuscan village is - if you have the means, you should definately make the effort to visit this little treasure.
This photo shows detail of Fresco's painted on the exterior wall of one of the buildings in Town Square.
St. Augustine’s Church was built next to the older church of St.Peter, and was originally used as a convent.
Construction of this Church was said to have been started in 1299 it wasn't finished until the first half of the 14th century.
Some very valuable oil paintings on wood and on canvas are preserved inside this church and also the relic of the vestment of St.Bernardino of Siena. St. Bernardino, of the Albizzeschi’s family, who was born in Massa Marittima.
The cloisters were started in 1410 and were part of the convent of the Augustinian Monks.
Definately worth a visit!
This sculpture also took our breath away - it is very overpowering standing in front of the Cathedral.
Massa Marittima is the only Tuscan town we visited with what can only be described as "Historical town meets Modern Day Art"!
Inside the cathedral, the main monument is St. Cerbone’s Urn enclosed in a tomb. There is also works of art by Goro di Gregorio, dating back to 1324, which shows on each side of the tomb, episodes of the saint’s life.
Also inside the cathedral you are also able to see the Baptismal Font, carved from a single block of travertine and dated 1267. The piece of marble which balances over the top of this apparently dates back to 1447, and is decorated with scenes from the Bible and the gospels.
You simply must take the time to visit the inside of this spectacular cathedral when visiting beautiful little Massa Marittima.
This is probably the best known building of the town of Massa Marittima, and it has recently been announced as an artistic heritage of Europe.
It has been enlarged and restructured at different times in history. It was first built in a pre-Romanesque style in the 12th century in order to house the remains of St. Cerbone.
This place was built around 1225, and the outside of the building shows the mayoral coats of arms of Massa, Siena and of some of the captains and Podestas who had been governing in this beautiful little village at the time.
Today the Palace houses the Archaeological Museum and the Art Gallery of Massa Marittima.
This is where you'll find many key points of interest, including the cathedral, town hall and many very modern looking statues, using the historical buildings as their backdrop. A very stunning little village indeed.