Grosseto is the southernmost of the provincial capitals of the Tuscany region, with its 80,000 inhabitants, it represents the heart and the administrative engine of the central “Grosseto” Maremma.
Grosseto, the capital of the Maremma Grossetana, also called central, is the reference point for the whole territory. It is the largest town in Tuscany, located near the right bank of the Ombrone, just 12 kilometers from the sea – Marina di Grosseto – and 30 kilometers from Monte Amiata. If it were not for the historic center enclosed by the mighty hexagonal walls – up to 2,900 meters high – built by the Medici, Grosseto could be defined as a modern city. Its history is inevitably intertwined with that of the Maremma reclamations. After the conquest of the Sienese Republic in order to acquire control over the extraction of the Maremma salt, the decline of the city began, afflicted by plague and malaria, followed by a strong demographic decline. In 1559 with the dominion of the powerful Florentine family of Medici things improved. They were responsible for the fortification of the city with majestic corner sticks, which took place between 1574 and 1593 at the behest of Francesco I de ‘Medici. The transformation of the ramparts and ramparts into avenues and public gardens, on the other hand, are the work of the last Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopoldo II, and dates back to the early 1800s, the years of the bitter Maremma.
Grosseto, nicknamed the “Lucca Maremmana” for its sixteenth-century Medici walls, is one of the few cities in Italy to have the merit of keeping these buildings in good condition.
The visit of Grosseto can start from Piazza Dante Alighieri (or Piazza delle Catene, as it is nicknamed by the Grosseto citizens due to the small columns and chains that surround it), the heart of the city, in the center of which is the statue of Canapone, sculpted in 1846 by Luigi Magi, depicts the Grand Duke Leopoldo II of Lorraine in the act of crushing with his right foot a snake, symbol of malaria, with a griffin next to him, his dying children and a woman rising again, symbol of the Maremma that it is reborn after the reclamations. It is overlooked by the Palazzo della Provincia or Palazzo Aldobrandeschi (once the castle of the powerful feudal family of the Aldobrandeschi), rebuilt in the early 1900s in neo-Gothic style, the right side of the fourteenth-century cathedral, restored several times (the facade is from the first half of ‘800) and the terracotta bell tower. Inside the Cathedral of Grosseto, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, you can admire various valuable works, including a large baptismal font and the altar of the Madonna delle Grazie, works by Antonio Ghini from the end of the 15th century, a panel with the Madonna delle Grazie from the 15th century, a work by Matteo di Giovanni from the 15th century, an image much venerated by the Grosseto people. In the nearby Church of San Francesco d’Assisi there is a Crucifix attributed to Duccio di Buoninsegna. Interesting is the Museum of Natural History of the Maremma, where the cast of Botticelli’s man is kept, dating back to about 50,000 years ago, and the Municipal Aquarium, a detached section of the Museum.
The development of Grosseto was only possible from the 18th century, when the important reclamation works were undertaken that freed the whole area from the terrible nightmare of malaria. Until then the city was all concentrated within the hexagonal walls that still guard the historic center.
The Archaeological and Art Museum of the Maremma in Grosseto
Not to be missed, the Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma which offers numerous archaeological finds and is considered one of the most important in Italy for Etruscan finds. The museum is set up on three floors in the Palazzo del Vecchio Tribunal, it also preserves notable finds from the Roman and medieval times. In the numerous rooms that compose it, in addition to bronze statuettes, tuffaceous sculptures, coins, urns and other Etruscan fragments from the Grosseto sites and especially from Roselle, thousands of testimonies from prehistoric times to the Renaissance are collected. The two Madonnas with Child are very interesting: one by Segna di Bonaventura and the other attributed to Donato Martini; and the Madonna delle Ciliegie, by the Sienese painter Stefano di Giovanni, known as Sassetta. The MuseoLab is housed in the former convent of the Poor Clares, a museum-laboratory that presents the methods and results of an urban archeology project carried out between 1998 and 2003 in the historic center of Grosseto.