Visit Massa Marittima
Massa Marittima, the 'City of Museums', is a very attractive town situated on a hill in south-west Tuscany. The town is very interesting to tourists because of its unique artistic and historical heritage, as seen in the buildings and numerous museums.
Not surprisingly given the geographical position of Massa Marittima it also has lovely views across the beautiful landscape of the Maremma region of Tuscany. The town has received the Italian Orange Flag award for sustainable tourism.
From 1225 until 1335 Massa was an independent republic and amassed great wealth from mining activities, and almost all the important monuments in the centre of the town date from this period.
Explore Massa Marittima: tourism and travel guide
Your visit to the old centre of Massa Marittima starts in and around Piazza Garibaldi, a very attractive square in the heart of the old town.
Here in Piazza Garibaldi certain particularly elegant buildings stand out, including the 13th century Palace of the Biserno Counts, the Palazzo Comunale and the Praetorian Palace which is also the seat of the principal museums.
In the vicinity of the square you can also see the 13th century Public Fountain, the 'Palace of Plenty', the ancient Mint and the Church of San Michele.
Head along Via Roma and the steep street called Via Moncini to Porta Senese and Silici Gate, beyond which more interesting buildings can be seen such as the the Fortezza Senese and the Tower of the Candle (Torre del Candeliere). The views from the top of the tower (entry charge payable) are extremely impressive.
In Piazza Matteotti in the upper part of the town near the Tower of the Candle there are some more historic buildings that stand out. These are the 15th century Palazzo delle Armi; the 13th century church of Saint Augustine, with one nave and a painting by Lorenzo Lippi (“The Flight into Egypt”); and the Church of San Francesco.
Massa Marittima cathedral
Also on Piazza Garibaldi In the heart of Massa Marittima Old Town is the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Cerbone. The facade of the church is very attractive and made up of two architectural styles: at the top there is a gallery supported by slender columns resting on statues, while the bottom and the sides are characterized by a sequence of 'blind' arches, interrupted only by large portals.
The left side of the cathedral features a bell tower decorated with narrow column-mullioned windows and four-trefoils. Inside the cathedral the aisles are divided by columns of travertine; but what is most striking for visitors are the numerous and unique works of art.
Among the most notable of these are the stories of the New Testament, the 13th century scenes of the life of Saint Cerbone and the stoup, which is also from the 13th century. Other valuable works of art include the crucifix, probably by Segna di Bonaventura, and the altarpiece of the 'Madonna delle Grazie'.
Massa Maritimma Museums
The Museum complex of Massa Marittima, based in and around the Praetorian Palace, is one of the richest in the whole of Italy. It includes a total of ten museums, among which is the Archaeological Museum, divided into an impressive series of sections (Villanova, Oriental, classical, Hellenistic and Roman).
The Villanova Section is very interesting for those who admire ancient artefacts: various archaeological artefacs here show that in the first phase of their history the Etruscans inhabited the territory of Massa Marittima - a vast necropolis was discovered surrounding the Accesa Lake, probably dating back to the 9th-7th centuries BC.
If you are interested in the history of mining in the region you can also see the Museum of History and Mines. The exhibition is divided into four rooms, two on each floor of the building. In room I is the floor plan of Massa Marittima territory at the time of that the Etruscan town of Vetulonia dominated the region (7th - 6th century BC).
In room II you can see a floor plan of Massa Marittima in the period when it was a free Municipality (1225 - 1335), and a panel depicting a copy of the so-called "Mining Code of Massa Marittima”, a set of regulations relating to mining in the ancient City (13th century) and, finally, other panels that illustrate the history of mining in the city from medieval to modern times.
In room III there is a collection of minerals and in Room IV, the evolution of the plans of the city over the centuries, along with tools for the detection and extraction of ore.
* The hills around Massa Marittima have been mined for metals including lead, silver and copper for at least 2500 years.
For those interested in further exploring the history of Massa Marittima and region the other specialist museums include: the Museum of Accesa Lake, Museum of Sacred Art, the Museum of the Candlestick Tower, the Museum of Ancient Old Mill and the Museum of Ancient Joinery.
See also history of Massa Marittima.
Other highlights of a visit to Massa Marittima
Close to Massa Marittima we were recommended to visit the small village of Roccatederighi. This is a small but perfectly formed medieval hilltop village with exceptional views across Maremma.
Along with the historical monuments from its illustrious past Massa Marittima also offers visitors the natural beauty of the Maremma region, and also a very traditional cuisine and some wines and cuisine of quality. Among the meat dishes not to be missed is the famous 'Tagliata', seasoned with porcini mushrooms and seasonal vegetables, while among the wines it is imperative that you sample a few glasses of Alicante and Vermentino!
Where is Massa Marittima?
Map of Massa Marittima and places to visit
Massa Marittima places to visit
See more places nearby in the Tuscany guide