Teachers' Blog

Road Trippin' to Massa Marittima

You can’t resist Road trippin’ through Tuscany in general and the South of Tuscany in particular. An enchanted past has survived throughout the centuries. Modernity exists in the shell of a world that was and still is there, at least in part. It irresistibly drags you back into the groove of history, overwhelms you with the sense of your “now” as a moment of a streaming “forever”, you as a brick in the big wall of human civilization. It charges you with responsibilities…

“Okay Roberto, calm down! You went for a day trip to Massa Marittina…That’is it, right?”.

Yyyes, okay, let’s take a look at this beautiful village, close to the Tirrenian sea.

Climbing the medieval alley to the Sienese fortress, which is in the middle between the oldest part of the town on the slope to the sea, and the newest (14th century!) on the flat top of the hill to the east.

Beautiful! The fortress and the connecting arch to an older defensive tower.

“A scholar with a view”. From the top of the fortress, you can see the cathedral and, on the horizon, the sea!

Massa was in the middle of a very important mining site. It is the place where the first mining code of the world was written in the thirteenth century! It is at the edge of the Metal hills and connects this region with the Maremma, a formerly “sea-like” area, full of lakes and swamps (Maremma is the transformation of “maretima”, “a land similar to the sea”). A big lake was right underneath Massa! Now drained, as the swamps.

The beautiful cathedral, full of art!

Its fantastic small museum with a “Majesty” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti that had been cut into five parts used as shelves to separate stored coal!!! But now it’s back!

And these are fantastic relieves from the 12th-13th century!!! Made of grey alabaster; at some point they were covered with lard, to give them a shiny outlook. Later they were hidden under a baroque altar and were not in contact with the atmosphere for a few centuries. This is the incredible result!

The subject is The massacre of the innocents! Primitive and intense at the highest level.

My highly intellectual scholarly attitude should prevent me from talking about the pleasures of food, but I must confess that I also had a great lunch with homemade tortellini and delicious pork.

At the end of the day, I came back to “modernity” in Siena!

Is Tuscany real? Can one live somewhere else? Just in few other places.

Roberto Fineschi,

Art History teacher

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