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Piazza del Duomo in Grosseto, Tuscany


The Duomo of Grosseto, Tuscany


Lunetta over the door of the Duomo at Grosseto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Grosseto
from Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population:  75,072 (2001)
Official website:
Grosseto
Wikipedia: Grosseto
Map:
MapQuest

Grosseto is the principal town in  Maremma province, a low lying alluvial plain close to the Ombrone River about 12 kilometers from the Tyrrhenian coast.  The comune of Grosseto includes a number of "frazione" including Marina di Grosseto where the Grossetani (and more than a few tourists) enjoy the beaches.

The first historical mention of Grosseto dates to the 9th century, but the area was settled long before then, first by indigenous tribes, and later by the Etruscans.  The Etruscans established themselves in nearby Roselle, which commanded the valley lands from the top of the highest hill in the area, but which today is only a frazione within Grosseto comune.  The Romans conquered the town in 294 BC, but Roselle remained the most important town in southern Tuscany until about 1138 when the Diocese was moved to Grosseto proper.

By the middle of the 12th century,  Grosseto had become a fortified walled city, mostly under the control of the powerful Aldobrandeschi family.  However, for the next two centuries or so, the city was embroiled in a succession of conflicts which saw the Aldobrandeschi deposed, reinstated and deposed again.

During this time, Grosseto, was embroiled in the internecine conflicts between pro-Imperial (Ghibelline) and pro-Papal (Guelph) factions, and found itself at various times under the control of either the Aldobrandeschi or Siena, but by 1336, decidedly under Sienese domination.  In these violent times the city was ravaged and rebuilt on numerous occasions but if that were not enough, in 1348 plague struck and the population of the city was decimated.

The city and local area were laid waste again by war on a couple of occasions  during the 15th century.  Finally, in 1559, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V turned control of Grosseto over to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, where it remained until the Duchy was absorbed into modern Italy in 1860. At the beginning of the 18th century, the population was still only about 700 persons but its increasingly important location along important north south transportation corridors has resulted in more or less steady growth in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The well preserved, hexagonal-shaped walls of Grosseto upon which locals and visitors can now take a liesurely stroll, and the 6 bastions and Medicean fort, were  designed by Baldassarre Lanci. The walls and fort were begun under Medici rule in 1574 and finished almost 20 years later.  The construction retained an old Sienese fort which is an attraction today.  The walls, with three main gates (Porta Nuova, Porta Reale and Porta Vecchia), are surrounded by an earth moat to make it more difficult for attackers.  During its days under Medicean control, the surrounding countryside, flat and malarial, was also subjected to drainage and reclamation.

The main entrance to the old city is the Porto Nuovo.  At the heart of Grosseto vecchio, perhaps the most significant monument in the city is the Duomo (Cathedral), dedicated to the city's patron saint, Saint Lawrence.  It was built on the site of an earlier church, the church of Santa Maria Assunta, under the direction of architect Sozza Rustichini.

Because of constant conflict, building started toward the end of the 13th century, but did not conclude until the middle of the 15th.  A campanile - bell tower - was added in 1402.  It has a neo-gothic, almost Romanesque,  facade, but other architectural details are a mixed bag because of renovations that occurred in the 16th century and later in the 19th.  The bell tower was renovated in 1911.  The interior features an important Madonna delle Grazie by Matteo di Giovanni and several 15th century sculptures, a font and altarpiece of the Sienese school.

The oldest church in the city is St. Peters, also with a Romanesque facade and bell tower.  It's dome is peculiar, and therefore interesting.

Another important church is the Chiesa San Francesco, built in the Gothic style in the 13th century.  The church features a handsome door with a gorgeous rose window above.  Inside, there is an impressive wooden crucifix painted by Duccio di Buoninsegna illuminated by light streaming through tall Gothic windows.  In the cloister look for a couple of wells from the Renaissance period.

Museum goers will enjoy the Museum of Art and Archaeology accessible from the Piazza Baccarini, one of the city's main gathering places.  Inside one finds artifacts representing a long stretch of history, many instances of so-called sacred art, paintings of the Sienese, Florentine and Pisan schools, ancient manuscripts, ceramics and other miscellany.

For people on the hunt for goods that represent the area, there are a number of local shops featuring leather goods - everything from belts, purses and shoes for people to world famous Maremma saddles and harnesses for horses.  Local artisans fashion jewelry based on Etruscan and Roman themes.  Grosseto pottery and ceramics are likewise distinctive to the area.  Food stuffs include pecorino cheeses from nearby Ginestrino and Manciano, aromatic olive oils, vegetables under oil, and a number of very good wines: Alberese, Capalbio, Bianco di Pitigliano and Morelino di Scansano.

Once you've "done" Grosseto, head to the beaches at Marina di Grosseto for a little R&R.  Perfect combination - history, shopping, a little lunch and a swim!

by Vian Andrews, April  28th, 2006

Region of Tuscany

4246′N 1106′E

Directions

By car State road SS1 or Superhighway 1 from Livorno.
State road SS 73 from Siena.
Highway A12 and then Superhighway 1 from Rome.
By train Rail communications follow the route of the main roads; connections with Livorno, Viterbo and Rome.
By Air The closest airport is G. Galilei of Pisa (tel. 050/500707).

Directory

 


 


Coat of Arms, Grosseto

 

Visit the Maremma National Park

"The Park is characterized by important geographical elements such as the last stretch of the river Ombrone, the orographic system of the mountains of the Uccellina which reaches 417 meters of height in Poggio Lecci, the marsh area of the Trappola, and the coast which is both sandy and characterized by steep cliffs." (Parks IT)
 
Annual Events: Fiera dei cavalli (horse fair, May), Dog Show (May), Flower exhibition-market (June), various art exhibitions at the archeological museum.


 

The Cuisine of Grosseto - Enjoy a dish of acqua cotta - cooked water - at almost any of the restaurants in Grosseto.  It is, in fact, a soup of peasant origins made of vegetables, eggs,  mushrooms, croutons, pecorino cheese and various herbs and spices.  Or try the crazy soup - acqua pazza -made of beans, leeks, bread and aromatic herbs.  Not surprisingly, given the city's close proximity to the sea, you could instead enjoy a fish soup, called caldero, or eel soup (scaveccio di anguille).  The local macaroni - Macroni Maremmani is a hearty dish with a sauce made of rabbit, sausage and local mushrooms.  There is a mixed meat stew (scottiglia) and one made just from lamb (buglione di agnello).  Steamed boar is also on the menu at some restaurants.