History of Massa Marittima


See Massa Marittima guide for highlights and historic monuments

We know for certain that the town of Massa Marittima stood here by the 10th century, and archaeological excavations have shown that the area surrounding the city is of ancient settlement.

Massa Marittima as we see it today was initially ruled by the bishops and, from the first half of the 13th century (1225), it became a municipality, with a lively and active economic life due to activities linked to the exploitation of mines.

The wealth of the city naturally attracted the ambitions of other powerful cities of Tuscany, like Pisa and Siena, resulting in Siena conquering Massa Marittima.

The years that followed the conquest of the city were substantially years of decline, but it recovered when it passed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, as the mines were reactivated and the reclamation of the swamp land resumed.

The town passed to the Kingdom of Italy with national unification in the 1860's.

Origins of the name Massa Marittima

The name Massa Marittima, has its roots in the Latin "Mansus," a term that refers to the verb "manere", or " to dress", “to dwell”; the name is similar to many other Italian towns, such as “Massa Carrara” and “Massa Lombarda”.

The second term, "Marittima", refers to the classic "Maremma" Tuscany, a green place and formerly covered with water and swamps. In fact, according to some scholars, the words "Marittima", despite its undoubted Latin origin ("Maritime"), would has many affinities with the Spanish term "marismas", which means "swamp".

The overall name thus describes an "inhabited village" near the marshes, namely the "Maremma".