14 kilometers from the Tyrrhenian Sea, lies Grosseto, a city in the central Italian region of Tuscany. With origins tracing back to the High Middle Ages (11th - 13th Centuries, c. 1001 - 1300), a visit to Grosseto is akin to taking a step back in time. Under the reign of the Medici family, the city was transformed into a fortress in the 14th century. Today, much of the architecture still remains and are well maintained. Walk through the streets with me, and discover the historical architecture that withstood the test of time.
1. Palazzo Aldobrandeschi
Situated in the Piazza Dante, the Palazzo Aldobrandeschi is a palace that housed the Aldobrandeschi family, one of the noble families of southern Tuscany in the High Middle Ages. This neo-gothic building boasts ogival mullioned windows and merlons in the upper parts of the wall.
Despite being more than a thousand years old, the architecture of the Palazzo Aldobrandeschi still continues to amaze locals and tourist alike. To maintain its former glamour, it was rebuilt in the 20th century.
Address: Piazza Dante Alighieri, 35, 58100 Grosseto GR, Italy
2. Area Archeologica di Roselle
Want to visit a site that has truly withstood the test of time? This is the location you are seeking. Heard of Pompeii? These Etruscan ruins predate Pompeii. This archaeological park is situated just on the outskirts of Grosseto and formerly housed 1,200 individuals within its 100 acre (40.5 hectare) perimeter.
A quick visit to the site and you may walk away with a sense of the livelihood of a former Etruscan-Roman settlement. There are two trails within the archeological site. Trial A leads to the Acropolis area, where a further walk up a hill reveals a former Etruscan “artisanal” area. Trail B leads to an Etruscan Wall and the Necropolis hill. Staff located on the site do speak English and maps are available, so you can make an informed choice on how to organize your time here.
Archeologica di Roselle [Roselle Archeological Park]
Address: 58100 Grosseto, Province of Grosseto, Italy
3. Grosseto Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)
Dedicated to Saint Lawrence, this Roman Catholic cathedral was built between the 12th and 14th century. Initial blueprints of the cathedral suggest a simple medieval building. Various altars and chapels were later added in the 14th to 15th century and the final construction was completed in the 17th century.
With a distinct “zebra” striped appearance, this cathedral definitely sticks out amongst the crowd. If this cathedral is not on your list of must-visits in Grosseto, you are definitely missing out. Boasting intricate stained glass and stone carvings, you might end up spending more time wandering around the cathedral than initially planned.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 58100 Grosseto GR, Italy
Contact: +39 0564 20143
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4. Medicean Walls of Grosseto
The history of Grosseto is connected to these magnificent walls. History has it that Grosseto elevated her status to that of a city when the neighboring city, Roselle, a small Etruscan-Roman settlement on the outskirts of Grosseto, was in decline. The walls represent how perimeters were drawn between towns and further exemplifies the power of the reigning family. In fact, these walls defined the Grosetto Fortress, a city of great power in the High Middle Ages. During the Second World War, the last sentry box of the walls was destroyed. Thankfully, other parts of the wall remained intact and underwent restoration efforts.
Walk through the “Old Gate” (formally known as the “Citizen Gate/Porta Cittadina”), which is one of the few remaining gates that dates back to the 13th century. This gate is of particular importance, as from this path all roads led to neighboring towns and trade routes. Remember to bring along some shade, for you’ll be standing under the sun, marveling at the wondrous architecture that was built by hand, through hard labor, using only simple construction tools that are artifacts now. The address listed points to a suggested starting spot, north of the wall and visitors may proceed either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Address: Via IV Novembre, 15, 58100 Grosseto GR, Italy
5. The Maremma Museum of Archaeology and Art
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Be prepared to spend half a day in this museum, which houses artifacts and paintings that informs of the Etruscan’s past. Visitors can expect a well-curated exhibition that spans three floors, which is further divided into a total of 40 rooms. The first floor can be generally classified into two main sections. The first is devoted to the archaeological collection of Canon Giovanni Chelli – the founder of the museum. Next, find artifacts obtained from the town of Roselle – including stone warrior statues from the necropolis of the Archaic period.
Ascending to the second floor, visitors can browse through curated pieces of archaeological documentation and have a look at a “vase” from Pescia Romana (730 BC). Further artifacts that reflect the Etruscan culture can also be found on the second floor. What about Grosseto? Visitors interested in learning of Grosseto’s past can proceed to the third floor.
Not to worry if you can’t speak Italian. Visitors can book guided tours at the reception area and most of the staff are able to converse in English. For the breadth of content that is covered, the well-curated pieces and great staff, the visit is definitely worth the 6 USD ticket. Children under the age of 6 are granted free entry. Do also note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
The Maremma Museum of Archaeology and Art
Address: Piazza Alfredo Baccarini 3, 58100, Grosseto, Italy
Contact: +39 0564 488754
Website: Maremma Museum
6. Piazza Dante
Located in the heart of Grosseto, you definitely won’t miss the Piazza Dante. In fact, most of the iconic buildings and places to visit are situated around the piazza, which is Italian for “public square”. Stand in the center of the piazza, near the statue and marvel at what Grosseto has to offer. From fine architecture to delicious, affordable eateries surrounding the piazza, this is a great first stop in Grosseto if you have no idea where to start.
7. Bagno Moderno (Marina di Grosseto)
Done with the sightseeing and wondering where you can go just to sit back and relax? Fret not, for we have just the suggestion for you! This lovely beach bar/restaurant has everything required to wrap up your trip in Grosseto. Get your own sunbed underneath an umbrella and be served with the food of your choice. Owned by Federico, the owner and beach manager, you can be assured of a pleasant and wonderful experience here, for he always assures that the location is kept clean and tidy.
Have children in tow? This place is not only elderly and handicapped-friendly but also kid-friendly! Build castles in the sand or enjoy handmade pasta with your loved ones. One item on the menu that is not to be missed is their marvelous tiramisu, that will leave you asking for seconds. Soak in the sun and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. If you are tempted, you can always go for a dip. If the sea is too stormy, there’s always the indoor pool.
Bagno Moderno (Marina di Grosseto)
Address: Lungomare Leopoldo II di Lorena 47, 58100 Marina di Grosseto, Grosseto, Italy
Contact:+39 0564 34256
Website: Bagno Moderno (in Italian)
The ideal destination for travelers who love nostalgia
Get transported back to the High Middle Ages in Grosseto. Take a walking tour around the fortress, marvel at the ancient architecture that still stands today and touch the ancient walls that once amplified power and authority. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take a day or two at Grosseto. You’ll leave the place feeling rejuvenated and will have learned a thing or two about Etruscan culture and history.
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