Montemassi, a long-disputed castle
Montemassi is a small but interesting village located in the municipal area of Roccastrada about 25 kilometers from Grosseto. The center rises among woods and olive groves in a beautiful hilly area, on the border between the Colline Metallifere and the Maremma.
All the main historical events that concerned Montemassi are concentrated during the Middle Ages and are closely linked to the history of its castle.
The Rocca di Montemassi has been documented since the 11th century when it was owned by the Aldobrandeschi family who maintained power until the mid-13th century, that is, until, in 1260, the castle was besieged and conquered by the Sienese.
It was never easy for Siena to maintain control over the castle, in fact Montemassi rebelled and then passed under the control of the Pannocchieschi family. It wasn’t long before the Sienese returned to take back the castle so, in 1328, Montemassi was again attacked and conquered as documented by the famous fresco “Guidoriccio da Fogliano all’assedio di Montemassi” (Guidoriccio da Fogliano at the siege of Montemassi) which is located in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena.
Once again, however, the Sienese had to face various insurrections and Montemassi became part of the possessions of the Salimbeni family first and then of the Verdelli. Having regained the castle again at the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Republic of Siena managed, despite a thousand difficulties, to maintain control of the area until its definitive defeat against Florence in the mid-sixteenth century.
What to see in Montemassi
The pretty village of Montemassi, still “protected” by its castle and by the defensive walls that still surround most of the historic center (there is also a city gate), has some interesting buildings to see such as the Palazzo del Capezzolo of the sixteenth century, the Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo and the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie which dates back to the 17th century.
Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo
The Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo in Montemassi should correspond to the castle church which we find mentioned in a document of 1076. At the beginning of the fourteenth century the church obtained the title of parish church and a few years later it was completely rebuilt. The current aspect is the result of a series of interventions that have changed its forms; in particular, the facade was redone in the 1930s. Inside there are a Madonna and Child of the late fifteenth century and an Annunciation of the late sixteenth century.
Rocca di Montemassi
We have already said something about the historical events, battles and sieges that affected the Rocca di Montemassi, now let’s see how the castle looks today.
Although reduced to the state of ruin, the castle of Montemassi is in good condition thanks to the restoration interventions that have allowed to preserve and consolidate its structures. Of this imposing complex you can still admire some curtain walls that delimit the internal environments such as the courtyard, remains of the cistern that guaranteed the water supply, the foundations of a church located inside the castle, a tower at the base quadrangular and above all the keep. The keep is characterized by a mighty shoe base and some windows with large openings which suggest a predominantly residential and non-military function.
Every year, in June, Montemassi turns into an open-air museum thanks to the event of the “Quadri Viventi” (Living Paintings). On this occasion, numerous actors disguise themselves to reproduce the great paintings of the past, creating a unique, very suggestive show.
What to see near Montemassi
Montemassi is located in an area very rich in places to visit. In the surroundings there are several villages of great interest such as the wonderful Massa Marittima with its spectacular cathedral, Scarlino which is located a stone’s throw from the sea and has a very interesting fortress, and Vetulonia, an ancient Etruscan town where you can make a real dive into the ancient times.
How to get to Montemassi
By car: if you come from the south (Rome / Grosseto) you have to take the Aurelia state road 1 to the Braccagni exit and then continue on the provincial road of Montemassi to your destination. If you come from the north (Florence), you have to do the Florence-Siena, then take the Strada Statale 223 until the Civitella Marittima exit and finally the SP 21.
Public transport: there is no railway, but from Grosseto you can reach the village with a TIEMME bus line.