Massa Marittima is located in the province of Grosseto and dominates, from a hill 380 meters high, a large area of the Maremma. It is a town of monuments and high artistic value, which is divided into two main areas: the Romanesque Old Massa corresponding to its centre of power that belonged to the local bishop and the New Massa, planned in 1228 with the expansion of free municipality.
The land around Massa was populated as early as the Neolithic as testified by finds in the area. The rich underground mining made it populated also during the Etruscan period. The first mention of Massa Marittima in written texts dates back to 350 AD thanks to the Roman author Ammiano Marcellino that mentions the name of ”Massa Veternensis”, to remember the place that gave birth to Cesare Gallo, son of Galla and Costanzo, the brother of the Roman emperor Constantine II.
After several centuries of oblivion, the importance of Massa Marittima increases in the ninth century when the bishopric of Populonia, destroyed by the Saracens, was transferred there.
In those years Pope Gregory IV declared Massa Marittima Episcopal, in 842 appointed it as a town and the sacred relics of Saint Cerbone were translated here.
The oldest part of town is the castle of Monteregio, now former hospital of Sant’Andrea. For centuries, thanks to the poor reputation of the marshes, Massa Marittima was called “Massa Metallorum, inimica civium suorum” (Massa of Metals, the enemy of its own citizens).
Under the political and artistic influence of Pisa, the thirteenth century marks the culmination of its greatness. In 1225 became a free municipality and, for the first time in Europe, a mining code was established, the “Lex Mineraria”.
These were the years when the city takes on the aspect that can be seen today. The New Town is based on three main arteries of which the pivotal place is Piazza Sant’Agostino, built in 1299; in 1335 Massa Marittima is subject to Siena, who builds a defensive tower as a sign of strength and domain.
The plague (1348), the revocation and termination of mining (1396), the unsanitary environmental conditions, will result in disqualification. In 1515 came under the dominion of the Medici family of Tuscany, but this did not halt its decline so much that in 1737 had just 527 inhabitants.
In 1800 the Lorena family, along with the scientist Ximenes, provided the land reclamation and the resumption of the mining activity, creating the conditions for the rebirth of the whole area.
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
Balestro del Girifalco | The Sunday following the 20th of May and the second Sunday in August