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Detail of San Cerbone Cathedral, Massa Marittima
Photo ©Enrico Caracciolo

Etruscan towns in the upper Maremma: Lago dell’Accesa, Roselle and Vetulonia

An itinerary through the history and nature, from Massa Marittima to Grosseto

First stop
Massa Marittima
Cathedral of Massa Marittima and Palazzo del Podestà
Cathedral of Massa Marittima and Palazzo del Podestà - Credit: Serena Puosi

The city of Massa Marittima, located atop a panoramic hill, is encircled by well-conserved defense walls. Visitors can explore a unique museum itinerary, which ranges from archeology to art history to the life and work of local miners. The Archeological Museum is located in the historic Palazzo del Podestà in piazza del Duomo. The collection is organized in sections and is arranged chronologically starting with the Lower Paleolithic era and extending to the Etruscan era. The main piece in the prehistoric collection is the Eneolithic stele statue from the Vada all’Arancio area, a unique artefact in Maremma; the Etruscan artefacts come primarily from digs carried out around Lago dell’Accesa.

Second stop
Lago dell'Accesa
Lago dell'Accesa
Lago dell'Accesa - Credit: Enrico Caracciolo

The archeological area of Lago dell’Accesa is located about 7km from Massa Marittima. The ancient settlement, only partly examined to this day, extends for few dozen hectres. Five neighbourhoods were brought to light, which should correspond to just as many necropolises, part of them already identified. We don’t know the ancient name of the town, but it was probably a satellite village to a larger city, Vetulonia, which had control over the mines in the Metalliferous Hills. The park is closely connected to the Archeological Museum in Massa Marittima.

Third stop
Artefacts from the seabed near Scarlino
Portus Scabris Museum Archeological Museum in Puntone di Scarlino
Portus Scabris Museum Archeological Museum in Puntone di Scarlino - Credit: Giovanni Casalini

Heading down towards the coast, to Puntone di Scarlino, you’ll find the Portus Scabris Museum, which vaunts a vast patrimony of artefacts pulled from the seabed near Puntone di Scarlino. The high concentration of these artefacts reveals that there was intense maritime trade starting around the 3rd century BCE. Some of these artefacts include pieces that accidently fell into the sea when they were being loaded and unloaded, amphorae and vases damaged during transit and thrown into the sea to free up space and ruins of sunken ships. Not far from Puntone is the necropolis of Poggio Tondo, in Pian d’Alma, with four burials dating to between the mid-7th and mid-6th centuries BCE.

Fourth stop
Vetulonia and Roselle
Vetulonia, Tumulo della Pietrera
Vetulonia, Tumulo della Pietrera

The archeological area of Vetulonia, comprising today’s town centre and the necropolises down in the valley, include the new “Isidoro Falchi” Archeological Museum in Vetulonia. Roselle, about 10 km from Grosseto, situated on the banks of the ancient Lake Prile, was an lucumony of Central Etruria and one of the Etruscan Dodecapoli. It conserves layers of buildings and walls dating to the Villanovan, Etruscan and Roman eras.

Fifth stop
Grosseto
Grosseto Cathedral
Grosseto Cathedral - Credit: Guillem Borrell

The last stop on this Etruscan itinerary is Grosseto, the capital of the Maremma and located on a vast plain bisected by the River Ombrone, just a few kilometres from the sea. The ancient city is encircled by Medici-era walls, and its bastions and tree-lined streets are only a few of the elements that make this entire historic centre and surrounding area a stunning site to see.

The Museum of Maremma Archaeology and Art in Grosseto is housed inside the 19th-century court building. Covering three floors, five sections and forty rooms, the collection traces whole history of the Maremma, from prehistory to the birth of the Etruscan cities, from the Roman conquest to the Middle Ages and up to the modern age, through documentations, archeology and art.

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