Grosseto is the out-of-the-way provincial capital of the Maremma, situated 14 km from the sea coast. It’s overlooked by the majority of tourists as there are no major sights here. But it’s a pleasant place with a nice central square and a well organised archeological museum filled with Etruscan artefacts.
Grossed played an important part in the history of Maremma in Tuscany. From an historical point of view, its most interesting attractions are the city walls. They were rebuilt by the Medici in the 16th century and are still in good shape today. The Archeological Museum is worth a visit too. Recently renovated, it has a small but nicely organised collection that focuses on the finds made at the nearby Etruscan city of Rosselle.
At the heart of the city is Dante Alighieri square, a mock medieval space where you’ll find the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, remodelled in the 19th century in neo Romanesque-Gothic style. The Palazzo Aldobrandeschi is here too, built in 1903 in a style that evokes Sienese Medieval architecture. The statue of Leopoldo II Lorena (1846) has an interesting story. It shows the struggle against malaria (the snake) and celebrates the”enlightened” ruler that helped Maremma to fight against it.
The square is a pleasant place for a stroll or an aperitivo. There are many shops under the loggia and along one of the most lively streets – Corso Carducci – that leads up to the square dominated by the cathedral.
Highlights of Grosseto:
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo might look Medieval but it’s not. The only surviving decorative elements that are original are the four symbols of the evangelists that stand on the cornice in front of the buttresses. Inside, some of the glass windows are the originals from 1400. Look out for the splendidly carved baptismal font and the painting “Madonna delle Grazie” (1470) by Matteo di Giovanni.
Church of San Francesco – the altar cross (1280-83) is attributed to the young Duccio di Buoninsegna. It shows impressive realism in the depiction of the body of Christ.
City walls – The 2900 meter long city walls have been turned into a tree lined walk way. There are six bastions (the fortress incorporates the medieval tower still visible today), and of the gates, the southern one is the eldest, dating from the 14th century. Until 1757 the walls were surrounded by a moat connected to a series of canals so that goods could be transported by boat.
Museo Archeologico e dell’Arte della Maremma – The museum spans the entire spectrum of Etruscan culture. There are exhibits of artefacts from the Villanova period (10th-8th c.) excavated in Vetulonia, and objects unearthed in Talamone, Sovana and Pitigliano, On the third floor there’s a museum of sacred art, mainly Medieval. The last rooms have a brief history of the city.
The area around Grosseto offers unspoiled beaches bordered by pine forests and peaceful countryside where agriturismi have flourished in the past few decades. The Uccellina Natural Park is just a few kilometers away.
Castiglione della Pescaia is one of the most attractive coastal towns in Tuscany.