Massa Marittima is about 20 km from the beaches in Follonica, situated in the hills north of Grosseto. The town’s roots go back to the Middle Ages when the town experienced its golden age in the period from the 11th century to the middle of the 13th century. The many monuments, churches and palaces pay testimony to the town’s history. Among these many sights we can mention:
Chiesa di San Francesco on the Via di San Francesco. This was built in the 13th century following a visit to the town by Saint Francis. The church is built of travertine marble with huge Gothic windows but is today just a mere one sixth of its original length due to several landslides. You can, however, still visit the transept and the octagonal apse. There is also a small bell tower on the roof.
The cathedral is consecrated to Saint Cerbone, who was bishop in Populonia from 570 until 573. The church was built at the beginning of the 12th century, but over time has been rebuilt and extended.
The old town walls date back partly to the 13th century. They followed the natural geographical contours of the area. The Sienese conquered the town in the 14th century and built an extra town wall. This created an excellent defense system, which also included the impressive Torre del Candeliere (Candlestick tower). Today half of the walls have been torn down. This happened in 1744 on the orders of the Grand Duke, to make room for the then new Saint Andrew’s Hospital. Today you can walk on the walls from the gate at Piazza XXV Maggio to the Church of St. Francis.
Torre del Candeliere
Torre del Candeliere was the main tower on the ancient stronghold that was built in 1228.
The Santa Clara Convent
The Santa Clara Convent was built during the Benedictine era, but was taken over by the Clarissa nuns from the middle of the 13th century.
Outside the town, about 30 minutes on foot, you reach the ruins of the Bishop’s Castle. The remaining walls and arches make a lovely sight jutting up from the ground in the middle of the scenic landscape. We know that a treaty was drawn up here between the Guelfs that had left Massa and sought refuge in the bishop’s castle and the Ghibellines who remained in the region in 1276. But following this, the castle was deserted.
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The town offers a good range of restaurants, shops, ice cream shops, banks and amenities. Furthermore, there is ample parking on the road up towards the center - where it is recommended that you leave the car - 1 hour costs 1 euro.