Exploring Grosseto, the capital of Maremma Tuscany

Grosseto is the county seat and largest municipality of Maremma. It is one of the few county seats in Italy – with Ferrara, Bergamo and Lucca – that features a historic center surrounded by an intact, ancient defensive wall.

The historic center surrounded by the walls - image from ognisette.it
The historic center surrounded by the walls – image from ognisette.it

Let’s start exploring Grosseto from this particular attraction. The construction of the Medicean Walls was launched by Francesco I de Medici in 1574, replacing those from the 12-14th centuries. The design was by Baldassarre Lanci. The construction took 19 years, and the walls were completed under Grand Duke Ferdinand I. The walls are now used as a public park and walking area.

With its origins traced back to the High Middle Ages, Grosseto offers quite a few beautiful historical attractions to see.

The Duomo (Cathedral), image from borgoetrusco.com

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is the main monument of the city. The Romanesque cathedral began to built at the end of the 13th century by architect Sozzo Rustichini of Siena, and it was only finished in the 15th century. The façade alternates white and black marble layers but is almost entirely the result of restorations in the 16th and 17th centuries. Inside, you will appreciate the Latin-cross layout with a nave and two aisles, a wondrously carved baptismal font from the 1470s and the Madonna delle Grazie artwork by Matteo di Giovanni (1470).

Other beautiful religious buildings include the Churches of San Pietro (the oldest religious building in town, dating back to at least 1188), San Francesco, della Misericordia, and dei Santi Gherardo e Ludovico.

Palazzo Aldobrandeschi is a notable building in a neo-gothic style, with hints of the stylistic elements of Siena’s medieval ages. Located in Piazza Dante, it was built between 1900 and 1903 under the design of architect Lorenzo Porciatti. It hosts the headquarters of the Province of Grosseto.

Palazzo Aldobrandeschi, image by Matteo Vinattieri

In the main square, Piazza Duomo, the Palazzo Comunale (town hall) features an eclectic style with mainly neo-Renaissance elements.

When visiting Grosseto, remember to look at what the local theaters offer. Teatro degli Industri, is is one of the town’s main sites of culture. It is an old building from 1819 rebuilt in the late 1880s under the project of architect Augusto Corbi. You will find Teatro Moderno outside the city walls, which, as the name suggests, is a modern theater.

For a deeper cultural trip, visit the Maremma Archaeology and Art Museum and the Museum of Sacred Art of the Grosseto Diocesis. Both are located in Palazzo del Vecchio Tribunale, dating back to the mid-XIX century.

Around town, you will also see liberty-style buildings, such as Palazzo Tognetti; and buildings with the typical rationalist style of the fascist period, like Palazzo delle Poste e Telegrafi.

Shopping in Grosseto’s historic center is delightful. The main road, Corso Carducci, is the local shopping street and stands on a stretch of the ancient Via Aurelia (the Aurelian Way was a Roman road constructed in approximately the year 241 BC).

Ruins at the Etruscan site of Rosellae - RobinIversenRonnlund
Ruins at the Etruscan site of Rosellae – image by Robin Iversen Ronnlund

Outside the city walls, Grosseto also offers the beautiful archaeological area of Roselle. Rusellae was an important ancient town of Etruria. At the site you will find ruins such as the impressive cyclopean walls, built by the Etruscans between the 7th and 6th centuries BC, the Roman amphitheater from the 1st century AD, and the Thermal Baths.

Nearby you can also visit the awe-inspiring Maremma Nature Park, while on surrounding farms, you can see the local Butteri Cowboys perform!

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