CINIGIANO | TUSCANY REGION
Cinigiano is a charming agricultural town on one of the sloping hills descending from Monte Amiata. This fortunate geographical position provides the best of the Maremma’s inland hilly landscape, in the Grossetto Province.
Originally a fief of the Aldobrandeschi family, it was dominated by Siena in 1381 and then by the Battifolle Counts. The Clock Tower, restored in the middle of the 19th century, and the remains of a medieval fortress are all that remain of the old town.
The produce ranges from grain to grapes, from olives to chestnuts. The zone is renowned for its forests, natural pastures, vast agricultural areas, chestnut groves—all of this among a mix of Mediterranean scrub, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees that stretch from the mountain to the bed of the Ombrone river.
The Nature Reserve Poggio all’ Olmo provides a chance for enjoyable outings within the area. There are other characteristic towns nearby that are worth a visit: Porrona with its castle, parish church and intact noble villas; Monticello Amiato with its medieval structures and museum of local traditions; Sasso d’Ombrone, whose original name is Sasso di Maremma and from which the bridge over the Ombrone river gets its name; Colle Massari, notable for both its architecture and landscape; and the Aldobrandeschi fortresses called Castiglioncello Bandini, Vicarello, Poggio del Sasso and Santa Rita.
GROSSETO | GROSSETO PROVINCE
Grosseto lies on the Tuscan coast of the area known as the Maremma. Although the name Maremma is most commonly associated with the vast, formerly marshy, coastal area made fit for habitation only during the past couple of hundred years, the Maremma is in fact a large and diverse area covering parts of southwestern Tuscany and some of northern Latium. The Alta Maremma is the northern part, from Grosseto northwards to Cecina River just south of Livorno. The inland areas are high above the coastal plains and provide spectacular views from the hill top towns located there. The Alta Maremma is thickly wooded towards Siena (for example around Pari and Torniella) and somewhat rockier towards Roccatederighi where the steep descent to the coastal plains begins.
Grosseto itself is a relatively recent city that developed during the mediaeval period on a site where Etruscan boats used to pass through the marshes. It provided accommodation for the workers in the salt pans and developed slowly until eventually it was fortified by the Medici. It is the agricultural capital of the Maremma and is known for its sun-ripened tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, spinach, olives and wild boar.
HISTORY OF GROSSETO
Grosseto was one of the principal Etruscan cities, situated at the mouth of the Ombrone river, in the once unhealthy Maremma country. It was first mentioned in 803 as a fief of the Counts Aldobrandeschi. It grew in importance over the years with the decline of the Etruscan cities of Rusellæ and Vetulonia. The ruins of Rusellæ are about five miles from Grosseto, with cyclopean walls four miles in circumference and sulphur baths that were restored in the 19 C for medicinal purposes. Rusellæ also once had an amphitheatre and it was an episcopal See from the 5 C. St. Gregory the Great commended the inhabitants of Vetulonia to the spiritual care of Balbinus, Bishop of Rusellæ. In 1137, Grosseto was besieged by Henry of Bavaria, envoy to Lothair III, and in 1138 Innocent II transferred the See to Grosseto, and Rolando, Bishop of Rusellæ, became the Bishop of Grosseto. In 1224, the Siennese captured Grosseto and were legally invested with it by the imperial vicar and thus the fortunes of Grosseto parallelled those of Sienna. It became an important stronghold, and the fortress (rocca), the walls and bastions can still be seen. In 1266 and again in 1355, Grosseto attempted to liberate itself from Sienna but without success. Among the successors of Rolando were Fra Bartolommeo da Amelia (1278), employed by the popes on many legations, Angelo Pattaroli (1330), a famous Dominican, Cardinal Raffaele Petrucci (1497), a native of Sienna and Lord of that city, hated alike for his cupidity and his worldly lifestyle, Ferdinand Cardinal Ponzetti (1522), a learned man but fond of wealth and Marcantonio Campeggio (1528), who was distinguished at the Council of Trent.
The building of a new line of walls by Francesco I de Medici in 1574, replacing those dating from the 12 -14 C, was part of his programme to make Grosseto a fortress protecting his southern border. The design was by Baldassarre Lanci and the construction was completed 19 years later, under Grand Duke Ferdinand I. Until 1757, the exterior part was surrounded by a moat with an earth rampart. There were two main gates: Porta Nuova, to the north, and Porta Reale (now Porta Vecchia), to the south. The walls are now used as public park and walk.
THE MAREMMA | TUSCANY REGION
The Maremma is a huge and, in the south, quite untamed area of southwestern Tuscany, Italy (Toscana) and northern Latium (Lazio) which is unjustifiably off the beaten track for visitors to Tuscany, both Italian and foreign, despite there now being numerous comfortable and economical vacation accommodations and other places to stay in the Maremma. The region is characterised by extensive forests, spectacular hill country and lightly populated coastal regions, including salt marshes and estuaries inhabited by unusual flora and fauna, plus numerous small towns and villages that preserve Tuscan customs and a way of life that have become much harder to find in other parts of Tuscany and Lazio. With a little effort, any visitor to the Maremma will be rewarded every day by attractive and interesting experiences and sights. With a bit of luck, one might encounter the famous butteri, the cowboys of the Maremma and the unusual breed of steer that they farm.
The Alta Maremma or Upper Maremma begins more or less at the Cecina River just south of Livorno and covers the Colline Metallifere (metaliferous hills) around Massa Marittima, the inland hills from Roccastrada south to Scansano plus the area extending from Grosseto as far as San Quirico and Monte Amiata. Although known for centuries for its malaria and bandits, the Maremma is now apprciated for its numerous wild life reserves and is also the home of the first of the "super Tuscan" wines, Sassicaia, produced by the Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta at Tenuta San Guido near Bolgheri. In addition to Sassicaia, Bolgheri is now famous for wines such as Grattamacco, Ornellaia and Paleo.
The Bassa (Lower or Southern) Maremma extends from Grosseto southwards past the Costa Argento into Latium.
VETULONIA | GROSSETO PROVINCE
Vetulonia was one of the most important cities in Etruscan cities in the Maremma. It is located in the valley of the Bruna and extended its influence towards the Metaliferous Hills as far as Lake Accesa. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first century BC) places the city within the Latin alliance against Rome in the seventh century BC. Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy also mention Vetulonia, and according to Silius Italicus (first century AD), the Romans took their magisterial insignia, the Lictors' rods and fasces and the curule seat, from Vetulonia. In 1898, a tomb in the necropolis was discovered with a bundle of iron rods with a double-headed axe in the centre, and soon afterwards, a grave stela inscribed for Avele Feluske was discovered, on which a representation of the fasces was engraved.
It seems that two settlements originally existed, that were then combined around the seventh century BC. The archaeological findings turned up inside the monumental tombs (jewels, metal objects, and imported manufactures) testify that the pinnacle of Vetulonia's splendour dates back to the historic phase known as the 'orientalising period' that witnessed the solidifying of a commercial network between Etruria, Greece and the middle east. The following century (sixth century BC) was marked by a clear decline of the fortunes of Vetulonia as it lost control over the Colline Metallifere. The clash between the Roman civilisation and the Etruscan civilisation, that had already begun around the middle of the fourth century BC, saw the progressive absorption of the Etruscans. The Vetulonia of the Roman age always remained a centre of little importance.
The Mura dell'Arce (cyclopean walls) probably date from the sixth and fifth centuries BC, and aerial photography has revealed further stretches, indicating the political and commercial importance of Vetulonia, which was famous for its goldsmiths. Under the Roman Empire, however, it shrank to become a secondary centre, with the northward spread of malaria. Little is known also about mediaeval Vetulonia. It was an object of contention between the abbots of San Bartolomeo di Sestinga and the Lambardi family of Buriano, and was then acquired by the Massa Marittima in 1323. Nine years later it passed under the control of Sienna.