Massa Marittima is one among the most beautiful and picturesque Medieval towns of Tuscany.
The town dates back to the XII century a. C. when the Bishop of Populonia, while escaping from the coast and looking for a site protected by the external assaults but also rich of resources to exploit, chose the Monteregio hill, in the upper part of the town, in order to settle there his new residence. It’s not by chance that Massa Marittima got a key position in controlling the territory’s ore bodies, today known under the name of Metalliferous Hills.
Just the mineral wealth gave birth to the town history. Beneath the bishop’s residence the first houses of the village rose, but only in 1225, when the Municipality of Massa Marittima got rid of its feudal bishop, the town had its maximum period of wealth and expansion. The main public buildings date back to this historical age: St. Cerbonius Cathedral, the Praetorian Palace, the Municipal Palace, the Abundance Palace, the city walls.
That’s not all, during the Free Municipality period the town had a flurry of activity regarding private buildings -were built the terzieri ( districts) of Cittavecchia, Cittanuova, Borgo- and many works of art from painting to sculpture and architecture.
In 1335 Massa Marittima fell under the Sienese rule and, ‘cause of its loss of freedom and the plague in 1348, a long period of decadence began and went on until the coming of the Lorena’s Dukes with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; they began some important land reclamation works and promoted the resumption of mining and of the economical life of the town.