|Maremma: Grosseto, Scansano and Castiglione|
|Scansano, Grosseto, Castiglione della Pescaia: a fresco of hills, planted fields, towns and citadels, sea and beaches, becoming a glowing mosaic embellished by timeless architecture.|
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Here you find one of the most beautiful, warm and sincere expressions of the spell cast by the magical Maremma. Qualities lost elsewhere have been carefully nurtured here. The inland is prosperous with naturally fertile farmland that vields high quality, genuine produce. The plain offers wetlands, rare types of fauna and uncontaminated flora. The sea bathes a coast where flowered beaches, sandy dunes, pine groves and brackish marshes alternate and open into coves with charming tourist ports and modern, well-equipped beaches.
What strikes you and may well tie you to this place long after your visit, is the life style you may enjoy the sea, a trip into Etruscan past, better represented here than anywhere else, then a visit to the villages and towns where the atmosphere and art of the Middle Ages remains firmly embedded.
This beautiful and noble city is the vital centre of the Maremma. Grosseto lies in a green plain traced by the flow of the Ombrone and its origins go back to the powerful Etruscan and Roman city of Roselle. Walking among the military, civil and religious monuments, you are able to cover twelve centuries of history and envision each of the periods and rulers as they are unveiled, layer by layer, before you.
Imaginary time travel takes place as you see the Etruscan ships sail Lake Prile, teeming with fish and stretching from the coast to the city of Rosella and submerging the whole Grosseto area. Originally, in fact, there was a large sea gulf surrounded Grosseto and that was gradually transformed over the centuries into a lagoon with marshes and cane thickets. The city began to expand about 935 after the devastation of Roselle by the Saracens and became civitas in 1138 when Innocent II transferred the Episcopal seat there. In the 11th century it became the feud of the Aldobrandeschi family, then later fell under Sienese dominion and finally under the rule of Cosimo de' Medici in 1559. The noble Florentine family encouraged the city's economic recovery by excavating canals for land reclamation and costructing the city wall and buildings of public utility. Later, the arrival of the Grand dukes of Lorraine (18th century) favoured the definitive rebirth of the city. The centre, with its hexagonal wall, the Cathedral and the Cassero Senese, tells us the story of the city's past. The Medicean city walls have come down to us almost intact and are a defensive circuit equipped with 6 bastions serving as lookouts.
The fortress looms above all else, a fortified citadel dominated by the massive Cassero Senese dating from 1344 and enclosed within the wall in the 6th century. The church of San Pietro in corso Carducci dates from 11th-12th centuries. It has a fine Romanesque apse and it's facade displays a number of stone sculptures from the early Middle Ages.
The austere church of San Francesco is nearby. It is in the Franciscan Gothic style with the high altar adorned by the magnificent painted crucifix attribuited to Duccio di Buoninsegna. Next to the church, the cloisters of the old convent frame a Renaissance well, from 1590, as “pozzo della Bufala”. In the main piazza, the 13th century Duomo is dedicated to the patron, Saint Lawrence. It was built on the remains of a church from the end of the 12th century. The four beautiful sculptures of the evangelists adorning the present facade, was well as the gallery, the splendid rose window, two windows and the portal on the southern side, all come from the original church. Of special note inside the church are the marble baptismal font, the stoup and the splendid tempera on wood dating from the fifteenth century by Matteo di Giovanni. It portrays the Enthroned Madonna with Anels and is regarded as one of the most important works of art in the city.
Farther up the valley are other centres well known for their historic and artistic monuments. One of these is the archaeological area of Roselle, one of the twelve main Etruscan cities, clearly elucidated with panles in four languages. It was famous for its commerce, the terracotta that was produced in its shops and an unusual example of Etruscan fortification that still stands. The small village of Montepescali, perched on top of a hill, is also quite interesting. Surrounded by a medieval wall, it is important for its fourteenth century buldings and a panorama so splendid that it is known as “the balcony of the Maremma”. Other worthwhile places to see are the charming villages of Istia d'Ombrone, Batignano with the remains of the wall and keep, the modern and expanding town of Braccagni and, a short distance from Grosseto, Marina di Grosseto.
The vast and modern bathing centre stretches along a large beach below a beautiful, deep pine forest. And finally, there is the realm of the Butteri cowboys: Alberese, with one of the entrances to the Maremma Regional Park. Here the Mediterranean scrub, the wild animals, the prehistoric, Etruscan and medieval villages (among which the San Rabano Abbey) blend together so that it is hard to separate man's work from nature's.
To see in Grosseto
The Maremma Art and Archaeology Museum
The museum was created in 1865 thanks to the donation of the canon Giovanni Chelli, a distinguished archaeologist of the Maremma from preshistory to the Middle Ages. The exposition is organized in 5 sections. The first contains the material from the collection of the canon Chelli, among which the important “bucchero bowl” with the archaic Etruscan alphabet. In the second section, dedicated to the results of the excavations in Roselle up to the present, the material is exhibited chronologically (from the foundation of the city to the Middle Ages) and thematically on the basis of the analysis of the single monumental complexes. Also here, of great importance, are the finds from the orientalizing and archaic houses, the Roman statuary cycle from the “Domus degli Augustali” and from the “Basilica dei Bassi”. The third section illustrates the historical-arcaeological situations of the principal antique centres within the province of Grosseto. The last two sections house the Museum of Sacred Art of the Diocese of Grosseto with works from the thirteenth century Sienese school and finally achaeological douments relative to the Middle Ages in Maremma, with special attention given to the history of its principal town.
Museo Civico di Storia Naturale della Maremma
The museum was founded in 1960 and illustrates the characteristics of the natural environment of the area. About 1,000 objects are exhibited including palaonthological material, botanical, mineral, coleoptera and naturalized mammals collections. There are bones of prehistoric animals and other animals such as tigers, elephants and lions that lived in the area before the arrival of man.
The aquarium has been located inside the Medicean wall of the city and exhibits the numerous examples of flora and fauna from the Tyrrhenian Sea. They were collected along the coast and around the islands off of Grosseto. They are on display in a number of tanks. The large collection of shells and the numerous images that add to the documentation of marine life complete the visit.
Museo Civico di Storia Locale “Ildebrando Imberciadori”
The structure consists of the area of the square in front of the entrance where antique farming equipment (sowing and mowing machines, ploughs, carts, gigs) is on display and five inside rooms with more than 1,000 pieces between objects and historic documents.
CASTIGLIONE DELLA PESCAIA
Castiglione della Pescaia is one of the most popular and well-equipped bathing centres in the Maremma, one of the most efficient and attractive destinations in Tuscany. The old centre is perched on an outcropping of Monte Petriccio and, with its embattled towers, overlooks one of the loveliest landscapes in the Maremma. Its massive offensive walls with their 11 towers, 3 gates and the 15th century castle have kept their medieval fascination, as have the narrow stone streets, ancient portals and ever present niches and arcades. The ancient lake Prile once stretched to the east to the town, an Etruscan possession before it became the Roman Portus Traianus. With the passage of time, the lake began to dry up and was replaced by a vast marshland, subsequently reclaimed as part of the work promoted by the Grand duke Leopold. The nature reserve of the Diaccia Botrona is what remains of that area today. It is considered one of the most significant wetlands in Italy with its rare ecosystem of international importance. The town is an ancient fishing village, as indicated by the name Pescaia. Pleasure boats of all types dock in the picturesque canal harbour and every evening fishing boats return with their catch. The vast expanse of surrounding vegetation offers refuge to a large and spectacular bird community living in harmony amid and diversified flora. Within the area it is possible to walk, bike or horseback ride along paved roads or pathways that penetrate the underbrush across pine needles and moss. The sea is uncontaminated and the long beaches of fine, white sand stretch to the edge of the pine forest. A tourist can easily find everything he wants for sailing, windsurfing and other seaside amusements and can just as easily find quiet, secluded beaches for contemplating nature, far from the lively and cowded bathing establishments. There are many fascinating spots around Castiglione della Pescaia that deserve a visit. Vetulonia is one of the most important Etruscan cities where it is possible to visit a necropolis and an archaeological museum. The town of Tirli, known for its simple and genuine cooking, makes it easy to see what life in the Maremma of old was like. The ancient town of Buriano offers a medieval castle and spectacular view over the Maremma. And finally about 15 km from Castiglione della Pescaia, is Punta Ala. This tourist resort is famous for well appointed bathing establishments, excellent hotels and, most especially, for its modern and fully equipped port, considered one of the best in the Mediterranean.
To see in Castiglione della Pescaia
Museo Civico archeologico “Isidoro Falchi”
The new Archaeological Museum, is named after the district municipal doctor, Isidoro Falchi, who, at the end of the nineteenth century, uncovered the remains of the ancient Etruscan city of “VETLUNA” in the arcaeological traces of Colonna di Buriano. The museum today a discreet number of finds from the necropolis and from the remains of the living quarters of Etruscan and Roman Vetulonia. The “Antiquarium” covers a particular need both because it contains pieces of notable historic-archaeological value and because of the documentation of the various cultural facies of the town that serve to complete the visit to the excavation of the city and to the necropolis. The objects are presented in a chronological and topographical order in six rooms dedicated to the permanent exhibit.
This allows the visitor to form pictorial image and understand the history of a city that existed between the 10th and the 1st centuries B. C and was one the principal cities among the twelve most important Etruscan cities.
Scansano is built in the hilly Maremma inland, along a strip of land between the coast and the slopes of Mount Amiata. Upon arriving in this area for the first time, you're both charmed and astonished by the landscape's variety and the harmony of its components. While large sections remain rugged and wild, as though man had not yet arrived, others immediately remind you of the centuries' old wine making tradition. A tradition that today produces one of the best known Italian DOC red wines in the world, the Morellino. Vineyards and olive groves line the hills while flocks of sheep dot the countryside and horses graze in the pastures. Scenes from an authentic country landscape. However, Scansano is more than a dip into nature amid flowering brooms, rockroses and strawberry trees. Most of all it is a monument rich historical centre dating from the early Middle Ages and the Tuscan fifteenth century.
First settled by the Etruscan and the Romans, as demonstrated by the archaeological site of Ghiaccio Forte, it was ruled by the Aldobrandeschi family and then by the Santa Flora counts in the sixteenth century. After a period of socio-political stagnation under the Medici, the town showed demographic and urban growth under the Grand duke of Lorraine. At this time the so-called “estatatura” was instituted, that is, the summer period in which the public offices of Grosseto were transferred here and the village assumed the layout it still has today. There are several buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries along the main street: Palazzo Vaccarecci can be identified by the family coat of arms on the facade, the Romanesque church of San Giovanni Battista and the small square with the Pretorio that was the seat of Grosseto's civic offices during the “estatatura”. The church of the Madonna delle Grazie, also known as the “church of the barrel”, is located outside the old centre and was very much reworked in 1862. Also outside the centre are the convent of the Patrero, originally the Aldobrandeschi Castle, and the Castle of Montepò, a massive and still intact fortress from the first half of the 16th century, circled by a high wall with four corner reinforcement embattled towers. Scansano's surroundings are also very picturesque .
Noteworthy are the Romanesque Church of San Biagio and the massive castle donjon with its round arched windows, embrasures and the remains of the corbels of the machicolation found in Montorgiali. Other villages such as Murci, Pancole, Poggioferro Polveraia and Cotone are also waiting to be discovered.
To see in Scansano
The museum offers a view of the historic itinerary of the this area from prehistory to the remains of the sanctuary and fortified Etruscan settlement at Ghiaccio Forte and of the Roman Villa at Aia Nova. The exhibit includes archaeological finds, among which are sacred objects, illustrative models as well as a thorough system of images and explanatory panels.
Museo della Vite e del Vino
The museum spaces cover the history, past and present, of vineyards and wine with the intention of emphasizing the culture and the local traditions and to provide information about the wines produced in the district. The exhibit is divided into five separate sections: historical (archaeology of wine); production; the cycle of the vineyard and of the wine; traditions (taste lab); information.
Texts and photos are property of APT Maremma
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