Grosseto, the capital of Maremma
- Category What to visit in Maremma
This busy center is the principal town in the Maremma. Its major activities are in agriculture, services and tourism. The last has continued to grow in the past years, as it has throughout the rest of the province. The city is situated in the Ombrone plain and is composed of an old center enclosed within huge hexagonal ramparts, and a much larger modern area with a regular plan. A well equipped airport for charter flights has been built in the vicinity. Originally there was a marine gulf nearby, but over the course of centuries it became a lagoon filled with marshes and cane thickets. The towns from the Etruscan period such as Vetulonia and Roselle demonstrate the prosperity of the zone, a prosperiety that continued under the Roman Empire.
The city began to expand about 935, after the devastation Roselle experienced at the hands of the Saracens, and became civitas in 1138 when Innocent II tranferred the episcopal seat there. From the 11th century it was a feud of the Aldobrandeschi family, then passed under Sienese dominion, then fell under Cosimo de’ Medici in 1559. The noble Florentine family encouraged city’s economic recovery by excavating canals for land reclamation, constructing the city walls and building of public utility. Later in 1765 under the Grand dukes of Lorraine, the feudal privileges that inhibited economic growth were abolished and further work of land relamation was begun. Grosseto florished again once and for all with Leopold II (1828) and his impressive reclamation project. This was made possible by hydraulic engineers such as Giorgine, Fossombroni and Manetti who turned the Maremma into a lush and fertile land. The work, which was completed with the agriculture riform of the early 1950s, encouraged a more specialized form of agriculture which could exploit local products such as wine, oil and cheese. These are the products which are most appreciated today.
Tourism as well has benefited from an unspoiled natural environment, both along the coast and in the interior: the ecosystem sea-pine forest, Maremma Nature Park and hills. In addition, there are opportunities for “intelligent tourism” with itineries for every season of the year that are of unquestionable natural beauty and historical-cultural value. These are also made possible through artistic, cultural and folk tradition initiatives. The zone around Grosseto abounds in historic and artistic monuments such as the archeological area at Roselle. This is one of the principal twelve Etruscan poleis and is explained clearly with panels written in four languages. It was famous for its commerce and the terracotta produced in its workshops. It a rare example remaining of Etruscan fortification.
The small town of Montepescali, perched on top of a hill and circled by Medieval wall, is known for its 14th century buildings and breath-taking view. Batignano wth its city wall and keep and the picturesque town of Istia d’Ombrone are both interesting. Marina di Grosseto is a modern seaside resort along a large beach backed by a magnificent pine forest. Alberese is the home of the Butteri (Cowboys) and the Maremma Regional Park. The Mediterranean scrub and animals living in complete freedom mix with the remains of prehistoric villages, Etruscan and Medieval towns (including the extremely interesting San Rabano Abbey). They blend so perfectly that it is often hard to tell which work of art was created by nature and which by man.