Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 10, 2014

Massa Marittima, a Tuscan gem

As soon as we strolled into Massa Marittima on a sunny spring Sunday we were entranced. The spectacular Piazza Garibaldi is surrounded by stunning medieval buildings. The town was founded by the Etruscans.



The cathedral of San Cerbone sits high above the piazza and is reached by a steep stone stairway, making it seem very imposing. It is built of Travertine and was begun in the 12th century and finished in the 13th century. It has had several renovations over the centuries.



The interior was largely under scaffolding when we were there, but we could see that it is magnificent. It boasts a rose window with rare 14th century glass, a Romanesque font from 1,267, a Gothic reliquary (1316) and a 14th century fresco under which is a Roman sarcophagus from the 4th century…and many other stunning pieces.

Above this part of Massa Marittima, which is called la Citta Vecchia, the old city, is la Citta Nuova, new city. I don’t know why there is this distinction because the Candlestick Clock tower was built in 1,228 and the Sienese Fortress dates from the 14th century.




Of course we had to climb the tower. The stairs were particularly steep and narrow, but the view from the top was worth the climb. On a clear day, which it was, you can see Elba, Montecristo and Corsica.

Climbing down was not much better than the climb up. Most of it required going down backwards.

There is also a beautiful park at the top of the hill. It would be a lovely place to walk for the lucky residents of Massa Marittima.

We found an excellent enoteca, Le Sedici, where we were able to buy some local wine, olive oil and other local products.

On the way back to the car park we located the Fonte dell Abbondanza, the Source of Abundance. It is a covered spring and at the end of the building, now covered by glass, as it is being renovated, is the most interesting frescoed wall. It was dubbed the Fertility Tree when it was discovered in 2,000. Some bright spark felt the need to paint a tree covered with penises. Funnily enough, my youngest brother went through a stage when he was a teenager where he drew penises all over the place, Perhaps this was just the fertile mind of a 13th century young lad.



Massa Marittima is well worth a visit. It has some pretty streets to wander in. There are interesting shops, restaurants and bars. We will be back as we didn’t have time to see any of the museums.

Massa Marittima is in southern Tuscany, about 50 kilometres NNW of Grosseto. The name Marittima doesn’t refer to the sea, but to Maremma, the name of the area.


  1. A really nice place to visit!

    • We loved it. The fact that it was a beautiful day helped.

  2. Another great gem … and cheers to you to continue to find wonderful places to visit. Then again, it Italy, that not hard to do. 😉

    • Italy has a never ending supply of wonderful places to visit.

      • never ending and then some.

  3. Wow, what a place – it’s hard to pick favourites, but I love the stone font, the little Osteria and the shop with all the bread boards. The view down the stairs however, was stomache churning! Oh, and the prosciutto and mozzarella looked just perfect.

    • We loved Massa…another place to become a regular stop.

  4. Every time we drive by there on our way to France, we’ve wondered what it’s like. Now we know! Thank you for the great post, Debra! Beautiful photos (as usual!).

    • It a gorgeous town, with lots to see and do, well worth a visit.

  5. I’ve often wondered about Massa, but have never gone there. Thanks to your super photo’s and commentary that’ll probably change sometime this summer. Thank you again.

    • I’m sure you will love Massa, we did.

  6. really beautiful Debra. thanks.

    • It is a beautiful town.

  7. Another great find Debra. What a lovely place.

    • It was a lovely surprise. We will go back.

  8. Love your photo tour. Beautiful. I’m hoping to visit Italy next year and look forward to more of your posts.

    • There is quite a bit of information about Italy on the blog. If you go back through the archives I’m sure you will find things of use. If I can help with anything,let me know.

  9. Some photographs again Debra. The lay out, the colors, absolutely brilliant!
    Have to find out what ‘vlakverdeling’ translates to in English. Because you have got that nailed.

    • Hi Nicolet, Paul has arrived safe and sound. Massa was a lovely place to visit and just 2 hours from Bagni.

  10. The frescos look better as it is with the ancient looks. I hope they are not doing too much restorations.

    • We couldn’t really tell how much restoration was going on as the area had been glassed in. I had to press my camera against the glass to get a photo.

  11. What a lovely town and as usual you are such a great tour guide-thanks Debra!

    • It is a very pretty town, and pretty much devoid of tourists the day we were there.

  12. You give a magnifying focus to places, capturing the detail in your presentation. I like the education.

    • Thank you for your comments. I love to wander in these gorgeous towns, there is so much to see.

  13. That puts the singing ringing tree in the shade! My dad would love that image, I might have to send it to him. I wish we could travel over to Italy one day, but in the meantime I am still enjoying all your wonderful glorious photos!

    • The tree is quite something, I have never seen another like it.

  14. What a beautiful day you picked for your visit. I’m glad you were brave enough to do the steep stairs as the views were lovely. I know I never would have done them. 🙂

    • The steps weren’t too bad, at least there weren’t too many of them.

  15. Wonderful images, Debra. I do envy you, living in Italy. 🙂

    • I am about to leave Italy for my real home, Australia.

  16. If you come to Florence, the lines are ridiculous right now. Can’t get into anything. Glad I did all the tourist stuff in the fall.

    • I don’t usually go to Florence after May, it is just too busy.

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