This small but delightful centre of art is situated in the Maremma region, and set amongst the Colline Metallifere (Metal-bearing Hills). The town is surrounded by the typical Maremma countryside. In its historic centre, the ancient alleyways intertwine, climbing steeply to the evocative upper quarter, from where you can enjoy a stupendous view out over the valley as far as the sea.
Massa Marittima is a mediaeval town with many places of great historical and artistic interest. These include the wonderful Cathedral of San Cerbone; the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall); the Palazzo del Podestà (Governor’s Palace), home to the Archaeological Museum; the Mineral Museums associated with the Technological and Archaeological Park of the Colline Metallifere, and the Fonti dell’Abbondanza (Fountains of Abundance) with their famous fresco.
Do you know this fresco? It shows a tree whose branches are laden with male sex organs instead of fruit. They say it is dedicated to fertility. It is certainly a unique and very unusual work of art!
Another curious local phenomenon is the use of the adjective “Marittima” (Maritime) in connection with our town, even though it is not by the sea. The reason is easily explained: the surrounding area was once marshland, and the town was the last inhabited outpost before arrival at the coast.
Massa Marittima is a slow town: people here live at a relaxed pace and in a more sociable and sustainable way. As a result, we place great emphasis on the quality of our food and wine, making use of local products and ingredients.
Our promotion of our cultural heritage; our protection of the environment; our culture of hospitality; our excellent use of resources; the quality of our hotels, restaurants and local products: all these were factors in our achievement of the prestigious Orange Flag award, the Touring Club’s standard of environmental tourism.
If you are in this area on the fourth Sunday in May, or the second Sunday in August, you will have the chance to witness our local crossbow tournament, played out in mediaeval costume. Known as the Balestro del Girifalco, it takes place in the splendid setting of the Cathedral Square. Twenty-four crossbowmen compete with each other, using the Italian style of mediaeval crossbow to shoot their arrows at the target.
A great attraction in July is the Toscana Foto Festival. This photographic event has now been running for over 20 years, and is regarded as very important at both national and international level. It has hosted many well-known photographers over the years, including Guy Le Querrec, Douglas Kirkland, Giovanni Gastel, Heiko Hosoe, Francesco Zizola and Oliviero Toscani.
On August evenings, you can enjoy Lirica in Piazza in the Cathedral Square: performances of great opera in the magical setting of one of Italy’s loveliest squares.