Massa Marittima in Tuscany

Friday, 25 February 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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© Markus Bernet/cc-by-sa-2.5

© Markus Bernet/cc-by-sa-2.5

Massa Marittima (Latin: Massa Veternensis) is a town and comune of the province of Grosseto, southern Tuscany, Italy, 49 km NNW of Grosseto. There are mineral springs, mines of iron, mercury, lignite and copper, with foundries, ironworks and olive-oil mills. In Follonica, on the coast, there are furnaces where the iron ore of Elba is smelted.

The territory around Massa Marittima was inhabited since prehistoric and proto-historical times, as evidenced by numerous finds dating from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age. Etruscan settlements have been found in the area of Lake of Accesa and others dating from the 9th to the 5th century BC. Further proof of the existence of a settlement in the place where Massa Marittima is now comes from the Res Gestae by Ammianus Marcellinus, where a Massa Veternensis is cited as the birthplace of Constantius Gallus, nephew of Constantine; this town can be identified with the village of Massa Vecchia.

The name Massa appears for the first time in a document of the 10th century AD on a list of castles and courts sold to the cleric Ropprando by Lambert, Margrave of Tuscany, on April 18, 973 and subsequently repaired by Ermengarda, widow of Lambert, on February 15, 986. In the 11th century began the gradual transfer to Massa Marittima of the episcopal seat of Populonia, which had been looted by pirates and destroyed by the fleet of Nicetas, Prefect of Constantinople: a letter from Pope Alexander II to Bishop Tegrin of 1062 testifies the transfer of the bishopric to Massa. The city reached the peak of its splendor in the years when it became free commune (1255-1337), with a great urban expansion including buildings still visible today. From May 1, 1317, for a period of at least a year, the city also had its own currency. Massa fought alongside Siena in the battle of Montaperti (1260), and in three leagues (1276, 1307, 1319), after being subjugated by it in 1335.

The Sienese exploited the economic potential of the city, weakening it substantially. Plagues (the most severe in 1348 and 1400) and demographic downturn brought the city to a deep decadence, as well as the insalubriety of the place, since Siena did not perform any reclamation works in the whole Maremma. In 1554, during the war between the Republic of Siena and Duke Cosimo de’ Medici, the Massa fortress capitulated, besieged by the Spaniards led by Carlo Gonzaga. On February 3, 1555 the city was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Palazzo del Comune © Luciano Bernardi/cc-by-sa-4.0 Palazzo del Podestà © Angelo Simonetti/cc-by-sa-4.0 Torre orologio palazzo Moris © Fabio Galgani/cc-by-sa-4.0 Massa Marittima Cathedral © Spike/cc-by-sa-4.0 Fertility Fountain © Andrea Anselmi/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Francesco Spaccamonte 2727/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Markus Bernet/cc-by-sa-2.5 Old town © Assianir/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Torre orologio palazzo Moris © Fabio Galgani/cc-by-sa-4.0
During the Medici rule, the city experienced an initial attempt of recovery by Grand Duke Ferdinando I, but none of its successors showed interest in the fate of Massa and Maremma: the only interventions were related to Valpiana‘s ironworks. Malaria hit the city and in 1737, when the Medici family disappeared, Massa counted only 527 inhabitants. In the 18th century, under the Lorraine dynasty, the city recovered. On March 18, 1766 Grand Duke Peter Leopold divided the Sienese state into two provinces: the upper province and the lower province. The lower province was divided into four captaincies: Grosseto, Arcidosso, Sovana and Massa. In the years between 1770 and 1790, several areas around the city were reclaimed. Leopold II, in the 19th century, continued the works of environmental and economic improvement: the Montebamboli lignite mine and that of alum in Montioni, were reopened and Massa returned to be a mining town.

Massa actively participated in the Risorgimento movements that led to the unification of Italy. Giuseppe Garibaldi himself went to Massa Marittima, and later became an honorary citizen; some young Massetans helped him to reach Cala Martina to embark at Porto Venere in September 1849. In 1923 Follonica, which had always been a hamlet of Massa Marittima, became an autonomous municipality. During World War II, Massa was a centre of partisan activities, and several of its citizens were killed by German and Italian troops in retaliation.

In the post-war period, Massa Marittima consolidated as a mining center until the last mine closed in 1994. Today, the city mainly lives in tourism, thanks to the presence of numerous works of art and the valorization of ancient crafts, mainly linked to its minerary past.

Read more on Massa Marittima, Wikivoyage Maremma and Wikipedia Massa Marittima (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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