Grosseto Tourist Attractions
SituationThe provincial capital of Grosseto lies in the alluvial plain of the Ombrone in southern Tuscany, 12km/7.5mi from the sea.HistoryGrosseto, now chief town of the province of the same name and the principal center in the Maremma, grew up in the Middle Ages around a small fort guarding the Via Aurelia, the old Roman road from Rome to Pisa.
When the drainage system of the Maremma fell into decay and the Etruscan town of Rusellae was destroyed by the Saracens the episcopal see was transferred from there to Grosseto in 935. During the Middle Ages the walled town of Grosseto, like other towns in Tuscany, frequently changed hands. Only under the Grand Duchy of Tuscany did the town achieve a modest growth in prosperity; but this was always dependent on the state of the drainage system and subject to the hazards of malaria. The town's development into a thriving agricultural center with some industry made little progress until after 1930, when the Maremma was completely drained. During the Second World War Grosseto suffered severe damage from Allied air raids.
The Centro Stórico, the historic town center of Grosseto, is surrounded by an irregular hexagon of walls, with six bastions, begun by Grand Duke Francesco I in 1574 and completed by Ferdinand I in 1593. they are reminiscent of the walls of Lucca, and accordingly Grosseto is sometimes referred to as a "little Lucca".
The main square of the old town of Grosseto is the Piazza Dante, on the north side of which is the cathedral (San Lorenzo). It was built between 1294 and 1302 on the foundations of an earlier church and several times rebuilt or altered in later centuries (campanile originally 1402, rebuilt 1611; facade rebuilt 1840-45). The interior was restored in the 19th centruy. In the left transept is an "Assumption" by Matteo di Giovanni (known as Matteo da Siena; c. 1433-95).
Museum of Archeology and Art
A short distance north of the cathedral in Grosseto, in Piazza Baccarini, is the Museo Archeológico e d'Arte della Maremma (Museum of Archeology and Art), with prehistoric as well as Etruscan and Roman material and collection of religious art.
Church of San Francesco
The Church of San Francesco, a little way north of the museum in the Piazza dell'Indipendenza, was built by Benedictines in the 13th century and later taken over by Franciscans. It contains remains of 14th century frescoes.
Piazza De Maria
On the edge of the hilly country, a few miles north of Grosseto near the village of Rosselle, are the remains of the Etruscan city of Rusellae, once a member of the Etruscan League of 12 cities. After it was taken by Rome its importance declined, and during the great migrations it was largely destroyed. There are remains of the town's rectangular circuit of walls, an amphitheater of the Roman period and a few Etruscan houses.
The little fishing village and seaside resort of Talamone is charmingly situated on a spur of land which forms the west side of a bay. Above the village are the ruins of a castle.
Parco Naturale della Maremma
To the north of Talamone the Parco Naturale della Maremma, a nature reserve, takes in a strip of land along the coast and the parallel chain of the Monti dell'Uccellina and extends to beyond the mouth of the River Ombrone.The reserve shows a variety of landscape forms. The area around the mouth of the Ombrone is flat and marshy; the hills are covered with macchia (scrub) and coniferous woodland, and on bluffs near the coast there are numbers of old watch-towers. Herds of half-wild white Maremma cattle are frequently encountered, and in winter this is the haunt of various migrant birds.
Monte Argentario is an area of changing coastal landscape which has become a prominent tourist attraction and holiday area.
SituationThe village of Vetulonia, in the commune of Castiglione della Pescaia, lies on a hill above the plain at the mouth of the Ombrone, 20km/12.5mi northwest of Grosseto.HistoryIn Etruscan times Vatluna, as the place was then called, was a member of the Etruscan League of twelve cities. In the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. the mineral wealth of the surrounding area (gold, silver, etc.) brought the town great prosperity. The reasons for its later decline are not known; but, however or whenever this took place, all trace of the once-powerful city was so completely lost that archaeologists at first looked for the Vetulonia referred to by ancient authors much farther north, in the Massa Maríttima area.
The Etruscan cemetery areas lie to the northeast and west of Vetulonia, once surrounded by a wall some 5km/3mi long. There are two main types of tomb, chamber tombs and tombs marked by stone circles. The finest chamber tomb is the two-storey Tomba della Pietrera (northeast of the village), which is roofed with a "false vault" reminiscent of the tholos tombs of Mycenae. Farther north is the Tomba del Diavolino, named after a statuette found in the tomb which was taken for a devil. Most of the rich grave goods found in the tombs of Vetulonia are now in the museums of Grosseto and Florence.
SituationOrbetello lies on the coast of southern Tuscany in the middle of a lagoon (area 26 sq.km/10 sq.mi) between Monte Argentario and the mainland.HistoryThe tongue of land on which the town is built was probably settled as early as the eighth century B.C. In the course of time the town grew in importance, and during the Middle Ages it changed hands many times. In the mid 16th century it became the chief place in the "Stato dei Presidi" established by the Spaniards. The tongue of land was extended to Monte Argentario by an artificial causeway constructed in 1842, thus cutting the lagoon in two.
There are still considerable remains of Etruscan sea-walls and - particularly in the Piazza Quattro Novembre - of the Spanish fortifications begun in the reign of Philip II (1557) and completed under his son and successor Philip III (1620). The cathedral was built in 1376 on the site of an earlier church and enlarged in the 17th century by the addition of two aisles. On the travertine facade, still in Gothic style, are a finely carved doorway and, above this, a rose-window and a bust of St Benedict. In the Palazzo della Pretura is the Antiquarium Cívico, a museum containing archeological material from Orbetello and the surrounding area, including Etruscan and Roman bronzes and pottery.
Castiglione della Pescaia
SituationThe popular seaside resort of Castiglione della Pescaia lies on the Tyrrhenian coast at the foot of Poggio Petricchio (342m/1,122ft), 20km/12.5mi west of Grosseto.The townThe medieval part of the town, also known as Castiglione Castello, occupies a spur of hill above the sea, enclosed within a circuit of walls and massive towers. The formidable rocca (castle) looms over the town and its picturesque little harbor, in which fishing-boats and yachts are moored. Outside the town is a shady pine wood, the Pineta.
Punta Ala, another and more sophisticated seaside resort, is situated on a headland northwest of Castiglione, 12km/7.5mi as the crow flies. The road to Punta Ala (20km/12.5mi) skirts the foot of the Poggio Peroni, which rises above the resort. Off the coast, due west, can be seen the island of Elba.
Map of Grosseto Attractions