Grosseto is the capital city of the Maremma Grossetana, situated on the plain crossed by the Ombrone river, just a few kilometres from the sea.
It is a highly recommended destination for those looking to experience art, culture and nature.
It was most likely founded in 935, despite being inhabited since prehistoric times as indicated by the remains discovered in various caves close to the Uccellina mountains.
Artefacts from the Palaeolithic, Copper and Bronze Ages have been found at the Grotta della Fabbrica and the Grotta dello Scoglietto.
Many academics believe the present-day Piazza della Palma and Piazza dei Martiri d’Istia represent the first settlement in Grosseto.
Towards the end of the 12th century, the city’s physiognomy underwent significant changes with the addition of stone and brick structures.
It soon became one of the strongholds of the Aldobrandeschi family, also due to its central geographic positioning, which favoured trade.
The municipality received formal recognition towards the beginning of the 13th century, and the first statute, the Charter of Liberties, was approved in 1204.
In July 1557, after a long period of rule by Siena, the Medici took control of Grosseto, which was subsequently annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
During this time, plans were made to build new city walls designed by Baldassarre Lanci.
As a result, Grosseto became more and more like a real fortress, with military garrisons and a very small civilian population.
The real revival began in the 18th century with the division of the ruled territory into two provinces by the Lorraine family. Grosseto thus became the capital of the lower Sienese province.
The development of new suburbs outside the city walls during the last decades of the 19th century marked a clear expansion.
With the development of buildings in neoclassical, neo-Renaissance, neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, Grosseto architecture entered a flourishing period.
What to see in Grosseto
The historic centre encapsulates Grosseto’s entire past. This small city is rich in monuments and places of special interest, with plenty of stops to be made nearby.
Let’s see which are Grosseto’s most important and religious monuments:
- San Lorenzo Cathedral: Grosseto’s cathedral is in the city’s main square, Piazza Dante. It was built between 1294 and 1302 to a design by architect Scozzo of Rustichino. The building’s Renaissance-style exterior has been altered through years of renovations in an effort to restore its original medieval forms. It houses works by Antonio Ghini, stained glass windows designed by Benvenuto di Giovanni, and the revered Madonna delle Grazie, which is part of a panel painting by Matteo di Giovanni;
- San Pietro Church: situated on Corso Carducci. This is Grosseto’s oldest church. It features a simple architectural design and dates back to the 8th century, but underwent numerous extensions between the 9th and 12th centuries;
- San Francesco Church: located in the same-named square in the old town and consecrated in 1289. Renovations have altered its original appearance. The bell tower was rebuilt during the 20th century. Inside, we find Giuseppe Casucci’s creations and a wooden Crucifix whose authorship is disputed between Duccio di Buoninsegna and Guido di Graziano;
- Church of Saints Gherardo and Ludovico: in Piazza Baccarini and built in 1585. It was deconsecrated in the early 20th century and restored in 2005. It preserves Domenico Notari’s stucco decorations of the Baroque altars intact.
Now let’s see which are the most important civil architectural sites to visit in Grosseto:
- Palazzo Aldobrandeschi: located in Piazza Dante, this is the Province’s administrative centre. It was built from 5th April 1990 after Palazzo Pretorio was demolished. Designed by architect Porciatti, the building is in neo-Gothic style with references to the Sienese Middle Ages;
- Palazzo Comunale: the building is located in Piazza Duomo and is where the Grosseto municipality’s administrative offices are housed. The structure has an eclectic, primarily neo-Renaissance design;
- Cassero del Sale: located in Piazza del Sale, it was built in the 13th century as a collection and distribution centre for salt mining along the coast. Its current appearance is owing to the numerous interventions begun in the 16th century, when the Medici walls were added;
- Teatro degli Industri: the city’s historic theatre is found in Via Mazzini. It dates back to 1819 and was rebuilt between 1888 and 1892;
Palazzo del Vecchio Tribunale: dates back to the mid-19th century and was built on a pre-existing medieval building. It has housed the Maremma Archaeological and Art Museum and the Museum of Sacred Art of the Diocese of Grosseto since 1975.
What to see in Grosseto
The city of Grosseto offers visitors a wide range of attractions in addition to monuments and works of civil and religious architecture.
Let’s see what to visit during our holiday:
- Municipal Aquarium: opened in 1993, it houses living species recovered from the local stretch of sea. In addition to the fish and invertebrates in the tanks, we also find naturalised and formalin-preserved specimens and a collection of Mediterranean and tropical shells;
- Roman amphitheatre in Roselle: built by the Romans in the 1st century AD on a hill where the ancient city of Rusellae once stood. Villanovan and Etruscan artefacts from the 7th-6th century BC have been found here. It is elliptical in shape with dimensions noticeably smaller than those of similar monuments (major axis 38 metres, minor axis 27 metres);
- Cassero Senese: a striking fortification located within the Bastione Fortezza complex along the Grosseto Walls. Along with Porta Vecchia, it is the only architectural element of the medieval walls that was spared during the 16th-century renovations;
- Museo Archeologico e d’Arte della Maremma (Maremma Archaeological and Art Museum): housed in the former Palazzo del Tribunale, it preserves a rich archaeological collection spanning from the Palaeolithic to the late Middle Ages;
- Museo di Storia Naturale della Maremma (Maremma Natural History Museum): spread over three floors, with two dedicated to exhibitions and one to scientific and educational activities. The rooms are articulated based on two different styles: classical, based on systematic or chronological criteria, and descriptive, according to habitats and ecological relationships.
What to do in Grosseto
Grosseto offers lots of opportunities for leisure, relaxation, fun and knowledge, whether you’re travelling alone, with a partner or with your family:
Let’s see what to do in Grosseto:
- Shopping: Piazza Fratelli Rosselli is a must-see for shoppers. This is where all the most popular brands are located. The high-end luxury boutiques on the other hand, are found in Via Borghi and Viale Matteotti. More traditional stores where you can buy handicrafts, copper artefacts or fine fabrics line the streets of the city centre;
- Night life: Grosseto is also famous for its vast selection of night life activities, ranging from more traditional wine bars to clubs and discos. The historic centre, especially around Piazza Martiri d’Istria and along Via Aurelia, is home to the majority of the city’s night life hotspots;
- Cycling: the numerous bicycle lanes give you the chance to admire the city’s urban fabric from a different angle. They were built in the ‘90s and link the urban districts, historic centre and suburban areas.
Grosseto and surrounds
Nature, culture, breathtaking scenery and places to explore either on foot or by bicycle.
Grosseto’s surrounds are full of interesting places to visit:
- The Maremma Park: vast and rich in diverse ecosystems, it wins visitors over with the Palude della Trappola, a marshy area extending over 490 hectares; the Bocca d’Ombrone and nearby Pineta Granducale that reach as far as the Uccellina mountains; the Sanctuary of marine mammals, a European protected area which is part of the Ligurian Sea and extends all the way to the Grosseto area;
- Pineta del Tombolo: a large wooded area north of the Ombrone river along the Grosseto coastline, with lush Mediterranean scrub;
- Roselle: The ruins of this ancient city, which dates back to before the 7th century BC, can be found 8 km from Grosseto. It was one of the twelve Etruscan cities. This archaeological site is particularly special because it preserves the stratification of the Villanovan, Etruscan and Roman civilisations;
- Principina a Mare: this picturesque seaside village with dream beaches, a large pine forest that stretches along the entire coastline, and sea awarded the FEE Blue Flag, is only 15 km from Grosseto;
- Castiglione della Pescaia: just 23 km from Grosseto, a medieval village with walls, towers, a castle and characteristic corners. The promenade, beaches and port canal are located along the coast at the foot of the hill;
- Porto Santo Stefano: just 46 km from Grosseto. Situated on the Argentario promontory, it is one of Tuscany’s most popular tourist destinations thanks to the region’s natural setting, stunning beaches and coves, large marina and excellent quality of the sea;
- Porto Ercole: home to one of Grosseto’s most upscale resorts. It dominates the Argentario promontory with its dreamlike views, enticing coves and inlets, marina, and traditional historic centre.
What to see in Grosseto in one day
Let’s now take a look at the ideal itinerary for those with only a few hours to spare, but who want to visit the city’s most important destinations.
Here’s what to see in Grosseto in one day:
- Palazzo Aldobrandeschi: located in Piazza Dante, it was the seat of power of the Aldobrandeschi family, one of Tuscany’s noblest families during the early Middle Ages. It is situated in the heart of the historic centre and exhibits a strong neo-Gothic style, noticeable in the articulation of the volumes and formal and decorative elements, as well as the use of travertine and bricks. It is currently the Province’s administrative building;
- Roselle archaeological area: located 8 km north of Grosseto, here we find the ruins of an ancient city of Etruscan origin. Founded in the 7th century BC, the Romans took control in 294 BC. A series of excavations since the ‘50s have unearthed the remains of ancient buildings. Today, visitors can admire the city walls built by the Etruscans between the 7th and 6th century BC, with a perimeter extending more than 3 km and a height of 7 metres; the Roman Amphitheatre built during the 1st century AD and still used for theatrical performances; the Domus dei Mosaici, the Tempietto dei flamines Augustales; the Early Christian Basilica; the Thermal Baths, the Necropolis;
- San Lorenzo Cathedral: Originally intended to be a simple medieval building, the Roman Catholic Cathedral was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. It is Romanesque and Gothic in style and impresses with its distinctive “zebra-striped” façade, created between 1840 and 1845. Inside, it features a Latin cross plan with three naves separated by pillars and covered by cross vaults on six cruciform pillars on either side;
- Museo Archeologico e d’Arte della Maremma (Maremma Museum of Archaeology and Art): three floors for a total of forty rooms give life to one of the city’s most important cultural attractions. It houses artefacts and paintings dating back to the Etruscan era. The first floor is devoted to Canon Giovanni Chelli’s archaeological collection, the second to carefully curated archaeological documentation from the past, including the “vase” of Pescia Romana, and the third dedicated to Grosseto’s past;
- Piazza Dante Alighieri: this is where most of the city’s iconic buildings and sights are located: San Lorenzo Cathedral, Palazzo Comunale, Palazzo Aldobrandeschi, Palazzo Alben, Monumento a Canapone, Colonna dei bandi;
- Medici Walls of Grosseto: these serve as the city’s defence system and are one of the few examples in Italy of walls that have survived almost intact. Three kilometres of bastions, a keep and two entrance gates make up the walls. It is one of the few examples of late Renaissance military architecture. The entrance gate, Porta Vecchia, is the city’s most ancient. Additional entrances include the 20th-century Porta Corsica, Porta Nuova and Porta di Santa Lucia.