Things to do in Massa: the visit to the historic centre
Provincial capital with Carrara, Massa is a city of ancient origins that has lived its heyday when it was the capital of the Duchy of Massa under the Government of the family Malaspina (also rulers of Carrara). As you will see, this family has left an indelible mark in the history and heritage of the city.
Our visit starts from the main square of the historic centre: Piazza degli Aranci.
Piazza degli Aranci
The wide Piazza degli Aranci is the core of the old town of Massa. The current conformation of the square dates back to the nineteenth century when it was remodeled by Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister, and the orange trees, from which derives the name of the square, were planted. In the mid-19th century was finally erected the Obelisk that rises in the middle of the square.
The great Palace that belonged to the Cybo Malaspina takes up an entire side of the piazza dignifying it with its forms and decoration. Built starting from the 16th century today, the palace is only partially visited because it houses some public offices. The entire building is organized around a central courtyard that give access to the so called ninfeo, an ambient where is located a fountain with a statue of Neptune.
The Palazzo Ducale often hosts temporary exhibitions.
The Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Francesco stand atop of a staircase a short distance from the piazza degli Aranci. The Duomo was build during the second half of the 15th century. In the beginning the church was entitled to San Francesco only, but in the 19th century it became collegiate of Saint Pietro and Francesco after the demolition of the ancient collegiate of San Pietro in occasion of the extention of Piazza degli aranci. In 1821, when the Diocese of Massa was created, San Pietro e Francesco became a cathedral.
This church has a beautiful marble facade, with two open galleries, built in 1936 in neoclassical style. The interior is characterized by the presence of tombs of the family Cybo Malaspina preserved inside the capel of the Santissimo Sacramento and in the sepulcher of the Cybo Malaspina and bishops under the cathedral.
Inside, among the many art-works, some of which came from the collegiate of San Pietro, we mention the baptismal font (15th century), a Madonna from a Pinturicchio‘s fresco, and a wooden cross from the 14th century.
The Museo Diocesano di Massa hosts art-works, jewellery, various vestments and furnishings from the churches of the Diocesan territory and expecially from the Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Francesco.
Address: via Alberica 26
Opening hours: friday-sunday 15.30-18.30
Castello Malaspina di Massa
From via Alberica you can easly get to the central Piazza Mercurio near which begins the steep ascent to the Castle Malaspina. A curiosity: the road that leads to the castle (via Piastronata) is part of one of the paths of the via Francigena.
The castle is composed by some buildings located on the top of a hill in a dominating position on the town. The core of the castle, the oldest part of the complex, dates back to the middle ages. Just south of this, the Malaspina build a big Renaissance palace between the 15th and the 16th centuries. These two buildings are protected by imposing bastions and connected together via a loggia.
Opening hours: tuesday-sunday 10.30 -13.00 and 17.30-23.00
Tickets: regular 5,50 euro; reduced 3,50 euro; free till 17 years old
Adesso lasciamoci alle spalle il castello e facciamo un tuffo in uno dei periodi più bui della storia di Italia…
Rifugio antiaereo della Martana
The rifugio antiaereo della Martana (Martana bomb shelter), is in the city centre and it’s the biggest among those built in Massa. This refuge, capable to host thousands of people, was built during the Second World War between the 1942 and the 1943.
The visit to the structure, a 450 meters long gallery digged into the rock, allow us to understand, also thanks to the support of audiovisual materials, which were the conditions of the population during the war.
Address: via Bigini
Opening hours: 23 June – 9 September: friday-saturday 21.00-24.00