Grosseto is the biggest city in the Maremma, in southern Tuscany, and is just 14 kilometres from the Tyrrhenian Sea. The town dates to the Early Middle Ages, later growing in importance until it became one of the most prominent cities in Tuscany. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, Siena, Florence and the Spanish dominated Grosseto, but it was under the Medici family that the city was transformed into a fortress. In 1574, defensive walls began to be built, which are still well-maintained today, while the area was drained and road networks started to take shape. Following the Lorraine takeover, Grosseto continued to flourish. Today, Grosseto is a beautiful city surrounded by a green plain, and walking along its streets, observing its monuments, you can witness 12 centuries of history.
A trip to Grosseto would not be complete without visiting the fortified walls. The hexagonal 16th-century wall dominated by the impressive Medici Fortress was built in 1574, replacing the ones from the 12–14th centuries. Once intended to defend the city, they now form a pleasant tree-lined walk used as a public park. To find out more about the Grosseto’s city walls, read this post.
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo is a Roman Catholic church in the Romanesque style, home to an abundant collection of artwork. Its construction began at the end of the 13th century and finished in the 15th century. It has a Latin cross plan, a distinctive façade with alternating layers of white and black marble, a bell tower built in 1402 on the left side that was reworked in 1911 and another on the right side that looks out on to piazza Dante, characterized by a Roman column topped with a composite Corinthian capital, used in medieval times to post public notices.
The Church of San Francesco is situated in its namesake piazza and dates to the Middle Ages. It was originally a Benedictine church, before being taken over by later Franciscans, and has undergone several restorations over the centuries. Inside, art lovers will delight in seeing the famous Crucifix by Duccio di Boninsegna. Another church worth seeing is the Church of San Pietro, the oldest religious building in Grosseto and originally a plebeian church along the old consular road.
The Museum of Maremma Archaeology and Art deserves a visit as it houses important paintings and archaeological finds. It’s one of the most important collections of Etruscan artefacts and occupies three floors of the former court building in the centre of Grosseto. The exhibition route is divided into five sections, containing Etruscan cinerary urns and pottery, an exhibition dedicated to the ancient town of Roselle, another section dedicated to archaeology in the Grosseto area, a part focusing on sacred art and the final part dedicated to medieval archaeology in the Maremma and Grosseto.
Palazzo Aldobrandeschi is medieval in origin, but was almost entirely rebuilt in the early 19th century, making it neo-Gothic building that houses the offices of the Province of Grosseto.
Ending your day in the city, head to Piazza Dante, the main square in Grosseto and home to the Canapone monument, a sculpture completed in 1846 by the artist Luigi Magi, which depicts the Grand Duke Leopold II of Lorraine crushing the head of a snake, representative of the malaria that blighted the population of Maremma.