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Cathedral of Massa Marittima
Photo © Comune di Massa Marittima
Photo © Comune di Massa Marittima

Piazza del Duomo in Massa Marittima

Districts, streets and squares

A star-shaped medieval square that tells the history of the city

Facing diagonally across this evocative square, the Cathedral of San Cerbone soars up a tiered staircase offering a truly unique spectacle, an eye-catching glimpse away from the usual architectural perspectives to which we are accustomed.
The square - also known as Piazza Garibaldi - becomes a kind of open-air theater that houses important buildings, such as Palazzo del Podestà (Podestà Palace), Palazzo del Comune (Municipal Palace) and Palazzo Malfatti (Malfatti Palace).

Piazza Garibaldi
Piazza Garibaldi - Credit: Comune Massa Marittima

Also known as Palazzo di Giustizia (Justice Palace) or Palazzo Pretorio (Praetorian Palace), the Podestà Palace was built in the mid-1200s following the establishment of the Free Commune of Massa Marittima.
The structure has not undergone any architectural changes, but the building, over time, has served always different purposes.
On the facade, a multitude of coats of arms of the families that have succeeded one another in power can be seen, including the black and white Balzana of Siena and the rampant lion.
The Podestà Palace today houses the Archeological Museum of the city.

The travertine building that houses the Municipal Palace was the seat of the city's magistrates and is composed of three blocks built at different times.
Over the centuries, the complex has undergone various renovations and modifications.
On the central facade, you can see the coat of arms of the Medici, who incorporated this territory into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1555.
Further down, on the left side of the facade, we see a 15th-century bas-relief by Urbano da Cortona: this is the Sienese she-wolf, symbol of Siena's supremacy over Massa Marittima (1335).

Massa Marittima
Massa Marittima - Credit: Comune Massa Marittima

Facing the Municipal Palace, closing the square, stands the imposing structure of Malfatti Palace, where a large loggia also stands out.
The building dates back to the 13th century and has also undergone numerous renovations and restorations.
In a niche within the loggia it is possible to see a fresco of the Madonna with two Saints.

Every year - on the fourth Sunday in May and on August 14 - the Balestro del Girifalco, one of the most important historical events in Tuscany, which consists in a crossbow shooting competition according to the rules of ancient war games, comes to life in this very square.

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