5km from the Tyrrhenian sea lies Massa, the capital of the province that dates from 822 and became a medieval urban centre in the 11th and 12th centuries. Twinned with Carrara but distinctly charming, you’ll start your three-day culture cruise in the centre of town at piazza Aranci. Sit down for a coffee in the square lined with candy coloured buildings and fruit trees before walking to the 13th century Cathedral of Saints Peter and Francis, home to works by Pinturicchio and Benedetto Buglioni. For art enthusiasts this can be nicely complimented with a visit to the Diocesan Museum, a Ducal palace from the 15th century. Here, you can see two striking altarpieces by Renaissance painter Bernardino del Castelletto, originally from Lombardy but active at length in Massa; a polychrome wood sculpture of a monk saint by Iacopo della Quercia; and a bronze crucifix attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
As the sun sets over Massa, take a pre-dinner stroll around the The Guadagnucci museum, an 18th century palazzo and gardens, that houses a unique collection of works by marble sculptor Gigi Guadagnucci. Head on to one of Massa’s traditional trattorias for some traditional Massesi dishes such as marinated salt cod or torta d’erbi, a typical spinach and ricotta pie from the area.
For those looking for a spa break, Cinquale di Montignoso is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday at the hot springs or on the beach. There are also many historic buildings that stand out in the area, including the famous Aghinolfi Castle, with its unique octagonal shape. A visit to the castle will allow you to enjoy a beautiful view of the sea and the mountains.