Awarded the Bandiera Arancione – the Orange Flag – by the Italian Touring Club, Massa Marittima is one of the most charming small towns in Tuscany. It stands above the Gulf of Follonica, at about 380 metres above sea level, and it is surrounded by national parks, dense woodland, olive groves and vinyards that are all part of the ‘Strada del Vino e dei Sapori Monteregio’ – The Monteregio Road of Wine and Flavours’ – of Massa Marittima, without even considering its proximity to the Tyrrhenian coast with Follonica only 19 km away.

The tourist who chooses Massa Marittima usually is looking for a slower type of tourism, made up of historical places to visit, traditions to enjoy and take part in food and wine tasting and discovering the excellent local cooking. In recent times, Massa Marittima has become a favourite spot for sports lovers from all over the world who choose these gently sloping hills for training and mountain bike trips.

PIAZZA GARIBALDI AND THE OLD TOWN

From the ‘Palazzo dell’Abbondanza’ you can easily reach the heart of the Old Town of Massa Marittima; in other words, the picturesque Piazza Garibaldi overlooking the Cathedral of San Cerbone. This church, whose construction originally began in the 11th century, is one of the finest examples of Gothic-Romanesque architecture: outside, you can appreciate the tympanum standing over a loggia while the inside is a treasure chest of art; for example the 13th century travertine Baptistery, a Crucifixion said to be by Bonaventura, an Altarpiece of the Madonna delle Grazie and the Arch of San Cerbone.

In Piazza Garibaldi you can also admire the ‘Casa dei Conti di Biserno’ with its many Renaissance windows, and the ‘Palazzo Comunale’ inside which stands the ‘Cappella dei Priori’ frescoed by Neroni in the 16th century with illustrations of the Old Testament.

To learn about Massa Marittima’s history, pay a visit to the ‘Palazzo Pretorio’, the antique home of the Chief Magistrate and nowadays the seat of the Archaeological Museum: you will find true reproductions of prehistoric grottoes, the remains of Etruscan tombs, finds coming from Lake Accesa and a stele dating back to 3000 B.C.

The Piazza Garibaldi is also home to the picturesque competition of the ‘Balestro del Girifalco’ when young archers of the town’s three districts compete to win the silk banner and the golden arrow, enriched by a historic parade in medieval costumes. This medieval event takes place in the town’s piazza twice a year: on the fourth Sunday of May and on the second Sunday of August.

Tenuta il Cicalino | Massa MarittimaFarm holidays & Resort

THE “ABBONDANZA” OF MASSA MARITTIMA

There is no doubt that Massa Marittima has Etruscan origins and that, between the 13th and the 14th centuries, it reached its highest point of development, taking advantage of the mines of pyrite, silver and copper in the ‘Colline Metallifere’ – the Metal Bearing Hills.

In 1335, the town of Siena conquered Massa Marittima during the wars between the Siena and Pisa, while two centuries later, it was defeated by Florence. The destiny of Massa Marittima followed that of the mines whose depletion meant that the town went into decline. It was only with the land reclamation carried out by the Lorena family in the 18th century that Massa Marittima was able to pick herself up again and eventually became, as it is today, a treasure chest of art and history, so much so that it is now often recognized all over the world as the ‘Pearl of Tuscany’.

In the town, you can admire an antique fresco, painted between the 13th and 14th centuries, on the front of a font at the foot of the ‘Palazzo dell’Abbondanza’. The work depicts the Tree of Abundance and you will have to smile when you see that the fruit, which hang from its branches, are actually male penises, with women fighting amongst themselves to be the ones to pick them.

The meaning of this fresco is not clear but apart from the fact that its message could either be one of well-wishing or a political message between Guelphs and Ghibellines, a certain surprise on your behalf is guaranteed.

Tenuta il Cicalino | Massa MarittimaFarm holidays & Resort

WALKING AROUND THE NEW TOWN

Now move on to the New Town, especially to the Piazza Matteotti where the ‘Torre del Candeliere’ towers above you; its name – the Tower of the Candelabra – comes from the old custom used in the past to set alight its top with a fire. Instead nowadays, from its top you can enjoy one of the loveliest views of Massa Marittima and its surrounding countryside.

Observe the arch-bridge, which joins the Tower to the ‘Cassero Senese’, which dates back to 1335 (later restored in the 19th century) and is a symbol of the Siena dominion of Massa Marittima: in fact, Angiolo di Ventura who was the architect of the world famous ‘Torre del Mangia’ in the centre square of Siena planned this Fortress.

A few steps away, you can visit the Museum Complex of San Pietro all’Orto with its wonderful, 17th century ‘Maestà’ made by Lorenzetti. Just nearby you find the ‘Museo degli Organi Santa Cecilia’ with its collection of antique keyboard musical instruments kept inside the ancient Church of San Pietro all’Orto, now deconsecrated. Next to this, please do not miss the Church of Sant’Agostino with its Gothic architecture and its beautiful Cloister. Inside the church, a relic of San Bernardino, a monk’s habit, is carefully kept; he is known as San Bernardino of Siena but actually, he was born in Massa Marittima.

Before leaving Massa Marittima to visit its surrounding area, treat yourself to lunch in one of the town’s characteristic trattorias and taste the local delicacies, such as toasted bread with liver and kidney paste, toasted bread topped with olive oil and chopped tomatoes, Maremma’s tortellini – stuffed pasta ‘acqua cotta’ a sort of hot broth-based soup, braised wild boar, sliced steak and the famous ‘cantucci’ almond biscuits, eagerly dipped into the Vin Santo, a dessert wine.

Tenuta il Cicalino | Massa MarittimaFarm holidays & Resort
Tenuta il Cicalino | Massa MarittimaFarm holidays & Resort
Tenuta il Cicalino | Massa MarittimaFarm holidays & Resort

THE WORK OF THE MINES
AND THE MINE MUSEUM

Massa Marittima’s history is inextricably linked to its mines, which were once the source of precious metals, witnesses to the passing of time and many civilizations, thanks to which the town became well off and wealthy but that also caused fighting and cruel conflicts.

The description of work in the mines from the Etruscans to the 20th century is accompanied by a part dedicated to the ‘Codice Minerario’ – the Mineral Code – proof of the high degree of evolution reached by the town in its management of the underground. Further there is the Mine Museum with extracted tunnels dug out close to the heart of the town, illustrating what work in the mines was like in the 1950’s.

In the Mine Museum, many pieces of equipment, machinery and wagons used up to only a few years ago are exposed. To visit the museum, you must have a guide, this service is included in the entry ticket. Near the museum, you can also book trips and guided tours to geo-mineral places of interest.

A photographic archive of the working of the mines from the end of the 19th century up to the 1970’s and some 16th century drawings by Giorgio Agricola are also to be seen.

MASSA MARITTIMA AND ITS SURROUNDINGS

When visiting the Archaeological Museum at Massa Marittima, you will have undoubtedly appreciated the findings from Lake Accesa: the halfmoon-shaped lake lying at about 8 km from the town and, even though small, reaching a depth of 70 metres. On its banks, between holm oaks and oaks, lie the remains of an ancient Etruscan town dating back to some time between the 7th and 6th century B.C. that you can visit along an excellently marked out itinerary.

If you are nature lovers, you cannot avoid discovering on foot, on a horse or by bike, the beauty of the Biancane Naturalistic Park, at about 19 km from Massa Marittima. What makes this place so exceptional are its geothermic features that, over the centuries, have shaped and moulded the landscape. You will find yourselves walking in complete silence, interrupted every now and then by a huff or hiss of vapours which make this environment so surreal. You will be able to walk through fumaroles, bubbling mud springs, sources of scorching water and earth coloured shades, from yellow to red to an almost phosphorescent white, just as Dante may have described them.

Tenuta il Cicalino | Massa MarittimaFarm holidays & Resort

BY MOUNTAIN BIKE

Massa Marittima is surrounded by hundreds of well-kept tracks, suitable for all types of bike riding. They are suitable for athletes and sports enthusiasts of all levels. Depending on where you are going, you can find various different types of tracks: from natural and flowing ones around the hamlet La Pesta to more panoramic and technical ones in the Monte Arsenti area which, in part, crosses over the grounds of the ‘Il Cicalino’ Farm itself.

The ‘Il Cicalino’ farm, together with its partner, MtBeer, organizes mtb tours on private tracks inside their own property, and in the surrounding areas, thus guaranteeing high quality tracks and enjoyment in safety. Moreover, you can also try out two ramps with drops, a small pump track and obstacles to be used in training.

One of its most famous tracks, the Cicalino Freeride, in fact takes its name from the ‘Il Cicalino’ farm and is able to thrill even expert cyclists. Not to be missed is also the famous Canyon, a natural toboggan slide with high and parabolic sides, a few minutes cycling away from our farm and perhaps one of the best known tracks for those who know the area.

The mild climate in this area means that you can enjoy this area’s circuits and tracks all the year round.

Tenuta il Cicalino | Massa MarittimaFarm holidays & Resort

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