Let's face it: Tuscany is the realm of "charming small towns"! Here we created a list with 36 charming small and very small villages, rich in art and adorable hidden corners, and surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards and sea. But still, this is not enough! Today we bring you to Manciano.
Manciano is located in the south of Tuscany, in the province of Grosseto, and is part of the area known as “Maremma” as well as the "tufa area", due to its geological characteristics. It’s a small town of less than 8,000 inhabitants, once surrounded by more than 5 km of walls (built in the thirteenth century and then reworked during the fifteenth century).
Today the walls have been incorporated into the city center, but you can easily recognize part of them here and there. Of the original eleven towers, only two are perfectly visible today (one in Via Trento and one on the left side of the Fiorella Door), while the others have been incorporated into a few buildings.
At the highest point of the town you can see the Rocca Aldobrandesca: an imposing crenellated building, probably built around the twelfth century, much altered over the centuries, and the object of repeated and numerous battles due to its strategic location, which makes it naturally also a great panoramic point (and yes, that blue thing on the horizon is the sea!).
Manciano hosts other artistic gems, to discover and enjoy as you wander around the town center. The medieval church of San Leonardo probably had a Gothic-Romanesque appearance originally, but the many renovations made over the centuries, in particular during the eighteenth century, have changed its entire look. The bell tower, however, still retains much of the medieval style elements. The church preserves inside a few valuable works of art and a beautiful fourteenth-century baptismal font. Manciano counts also some important buildings, like Casa Battiloro and Casa Piazai, both along Via Roma, or the imposing Palazzo Nardelli, near the Rocca, that hosts the Museum of Prehistory and Early History of the Fiora Valley. There are also some Art Nouveau villas: Villa Aldi Mai, Villa Teresa (known as Il Villino).
Manciano is a perfect starting point for exploring the southern part of Tuscany and its beauties, first of all the hot springs of Saturnia, or the lovely little Montemerano. The area is also known for its important archaeological sites, like the Castellum Aquarium, about 18 km from Manciano: a giant cistern from the Roman period.
And for a whole (and slow) experience of nature and culture, don’t forget that recently the ancient Via Clodia re-opened. It is the old green road that connected Rome with the Maremma area. Tips, photos and information here.
Finally, a curiosity that will captivate all the lovers of the history related to World War II: on June 12, 1944, Manciano was the first town of Tuscany to be reached by the Allies, and, on February 25, 1945, here is where here is where the first experiment of free elections in Italy, after the Fascist period, was held.
This article was originally written by Leila
Cover image credit: TPT