Situated in a valley located near the Apuan Alps, the city of Massa sits along the Frigido stream. According to historical documents, it was founded in 882 and it became a medieval urban centre in the 11th and 12th centuries, acting as a fortified town for the Obertenghi feudal lords. The same document cites two settlements: Borgo Bagara, known as piazza degli Aranci today, and Curtis Quarantula,which is thought to be the area surrounding the Malaspina Castle. The city’s current appearance was deeply influenced by Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, who was the area’s Grand Duchess in 1809.
Baciocchi was responsible for annexing the Tuscan government to the French empire. Shecalled for piazza degli Aranci to be widened, its last renovation to this day. In the middle of the piazza, you’ll find a marble obelisk supported by four statue-fountains representing lions. It was built in 1853 to honour the Dukes Francesco IV and Francesco V of Modena. The imposing Ducal Palace, also known as Palazzo Rosso, dominates the piazza; it currently houses the city’s Provincial Administration. From the 15th to 19th centuries, it hosted to the Malaspina family. The oldest part of the palace dates to 1557, and its construction was funded by Alberico I Cybo. In 1705, it was redesigned by the architectural geniuses Giovan Francesco and Alessandro Bergamini.