The Romans

The Romans did not pay much attention to the environmental conditions of the Maremma, after having conquered the most famous Etruscan cities: Populonia, Vetulonia and Roselle.

The Bust of the Roman Emperor Hadrian – Villa Romana delle Paduline – Castiglione della Pescaia – Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma

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After the flourishing of the great Etruscan civilization, the decline came due to the increasing Roman interest in the whole area of the Maremma. Between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, a series of military campaigns led Rome to take possession of the main Etruscan cities. The Romanization of the Maremma coast was rather long and laborious, and at first it brought its fruits. In 273 BC arose the city of Cosa, despite some important centers such as Populonia, Vetulonia and Roselle (the Etruscan center of first importance, conquered in 296 BC) were destroyed during the civil war between Mario and Silla, just as many underwent significant improvements, so much so that they became favorite places by the Romans (especially for noble families) for the practice of the so-called Otiumthe care of the spirit and the pleasures of the body – in the numerous maritime villas accompanied by spas that they built during the first century. With Augustus, again in the 1st century BC, the area took the name of Regio VII and became a nerve center for trade relations with the north of the peninsula. For this reason Rome strengthened the road network, tracing the Via Aurelia along the sea and the Via Clodia in the hinterland.

The passage of the Romans in Maremma is clearly visible in the archaeological excavations of Roselle and in the beautiful villas on the island of Giglio, Giannutri, Scansano, Ansedonia and Capalbio.

However, the well-being of this area did not last long: the Romans did not pay much attention to the environmental conditions of the Maremma area and nature soon took over. The Maremma became wild (and swamped), the woods replaced the manicured fields, the livestock and farming for agriculture. The maintenance of the consular roads and canals was definitively abandoned, the beaches became difficult to dock; areas that becoming unhealthy tended to become depopulated. To this situation of abandonment were added the barbarian invasions and the attacks of pirates, forcing the populations to take refuge on the most inaccessible hills and more suitable for fortifications, completely abandoning the coastal strip to unhealthy waters and malaria. The commercial blockade and the desolation of the ancient Roman roads extinguished the last traditional remnants of mining. In the landscape of desolation and abandonment, the activity of the monastic orders allowed the survival of some oases of civilization. Thus takes shape the picture of decline in which the Maremma was in the late imperial age.

Resources on the Romans in Maremma

  • Maremma Archaeological and Art Museum – Located in the historic center of Grosseto, it presents a remarkable collection of Roman archaeological finds, linked to the Romanization period of the Maremma territory.