July 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Grosseto lies in the heart of the Maremma, near the right banks of the Ombrone river which winds its way through the vast plain. It is about ten kilometers from the sea. This prevalently modern city has spread out around the small compact historical center marked by the old Medici bastions. As witnessed by an inscription, the Cathedral was begun in 1294 and finished early in the 14th century by Sozzo di Pace Rustichini, known also as Sozzo di Rustichino. The Cathedral was probably built on the remains of a Romanesque church, to judge from the pilasters with engaged columns set against the interior facade and the pilaster strips outside on the side walls. The facade, renewed in the 19th century, has three portals and an elegant loggia with a rose window above. The right side has a fine low-relief portal with a splendid sculpture by Cesare Maccari (1800), and, above, two two-light Gothic windows. The interior has a nave divided from the two aisles by solid compound piers. At the end of still another bay is the apse, semi-circular outside but square inside. Of particular note in the second bay on the left is a fine baptismal font by Antonio Ghini (1470-71) and, in the left arm of the transept, a lovely altarpiece, also by Ginni, with a splendid Assumption (15th cent.) by Matto) di Giovanni. The Museo Archeologico e d’Arte della Maremma has a rich collection of archaeology and art. The Prehistoric section is installed on the ground floor with material from the paleolithic to the Villanovan periods. The Etruscan section presents material from the excavations of ancient settlements including Talamone, Vetulonia. Cosa, Sovana, Castro, Vulci, Pitigliano, Saturnia. Magliano and above all Roselle, where excavations are still under way in the ancient urban area. The upper floor contains the Topographical section where the material is arranged according to the river basin comes from (Ombrone, Fiora, etc.). There is also a rich Collection of religious art on the second floor. Paintinp of the Sienese school dating from the 13th to theĀ  17th century include in particular a magnificent Last Judgement by Guido da Siena or his circle; a charming Madonna and Child by Segna di Bonaventura; a goodly number of works that can be ascribed to the circle of one of the above masters; a moving Crucifixion (first half of the 13th cent.) which is of such high quality that the name of Simone Martini comes to mind; the famous Madonna of the Cherries by Sassetta; and the two Saints, once wings of a polyptych, by Sano di Pietro. The collection also contains works by many other illustrious masters such as Girolamo di Benvenuto, Pietro di Domenico, Riccio, Vanni and Rutilio Manetti as well as a fine Collection of ceramics. The austere 13th-century Church of San Francesco is in Gothic style. The gabled brick facade is enlivened by a portal with lunette and a fine rose window. The convent buildings were on the left side. Still extant is a Cloister with the socalled well of the “bufala”, built by Ferdinando I towards the end of the 16th century. Another well lies outside the church opposite the hospital. San Francesco has a single large nave with a trussed timber roof and a fine terminal chapel. It contains valuable cross set behind the high altar, perhaps an ea ly work by Duccio da Buoninsegna (1289) and a lovely wooden crucifix (15th cent.) of Sienese school. The is tenor is partially lined with frescoes. The Medici Walls were built in the second half of di 16th century and comprise a powerful bastioned cird of walls. At the beginning of the 19th century the glad began to be transformed into public gardens and at one corner rises the Medici Fortress which incorporates thi old Sienese Keep (a solid structure consisting of two tinct but interconnected parts with strongly escarj. bases bordered by a string course). A fine view of theold town can be had from the fortress


Massa and Carrara

April 9, 2012 § Leave a comment


Situated on one of the low hills which block the narrow valley of the stream Frigido, at the foot of the Apuan Alps, Massa is about five kilometers from the sea. The city contains various interesting examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Important buildings in Massa include the Palazzo Cybo Malaspina, which was begun in 1557 on what remained of a precedent Malaspina villa; the Cathedral, originally 13th century, but heavily remodelled and restored in the course of time; and the Museo Storico di Arte Sacra, annexed to the Cathedral. Note should also be taken of the 18th century Church of the Carmine and the Malaspina Castle, which consists of a large complex including the Rocca Malaspiniana which dominates the entire city, as well as the fortress, built between the 15th and the 16th century.


The town is separated from Massa by the hills of Candia. The torrent Carrione runs through the town which is situated below the Apuan Alps. Carrara is the city of marble; its inexhaustible quarries have been known for over 2000 years. The city is proud of its Marble Museum which exhibits samples of the various types of marble to be found in the Apuan Alps, and of the Palazzo Cybo Malaspina with its 16th century layout, the seat of the Accademia delle Belle Arti. Next to the fountain of Andrea Doria or of the Giant, a lovely unfinished work by Baccio Bandinelli, is the Cathedral, begun in the 11th century and completed two centuries later. It is completely covered with a facing of grey and white marble and is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic. The 13th. century campanile is a fine example of Ligurian architecture. The tripartite interior of the church is ornamented with 12th and 13th century frescoes and important sculpture.

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