La Maremma, part 1. Grosseto

I’m very fortunate that in my adult life I have had the privilege of getting to know Italy pretty well. One region I had not yet visited, however, was Maremma. I’m happy to say, that changed this week! I had the opportunity to visit the city of Grosseto as well as the beautiful coastline of the region.

Today’s post will cover my visit to the interesting town of Grosseto. I was able to walk around inside the walls that the Medici dukes built, and pay a visit each to the duomo and the excellent archaeology museum. Grosseto was founded by the Etruscans, and they left a lot of evidence behind, as did the Roman Empire Romans. Both are well-covered in the museum.

First, a few words about Maremma:

The Maremma (/məˈrɛmə/, Italian: [maˈremma]; from Latin maritima, “maritime [land]”) is a coastal area of western central Italy, bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea. It includes much of south-western Tuscany and part of northern Lazio. It was formerly mostly marshland, often malarial, but was drained by order of Fernando I de’ Medici.

It was traditionally populated by the butteri, mounted cattle herders who rode horses fitted with one of two distinctive styles of saddle, the scafarda and the bardella.

Let’s start by looking at the interesting duomo of Gorsseto. Il Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, or the Duomo di Grosseto, is a Roman Catholic cathedral. It is the cathedral of the diocese of Grosseto and is dedicated to Saint Lawrence.

The brown and white striped facade is a late addition. Nevertheless, it is a striking feature of the lovely Piazza Dante.
Although the duomo campanile is almost completely rebuilt, the lower section still exists, with many medieval carvings. The plaque refers to the round window above it and states that in Rome the dome of St. Peter’s is illuminated by the sun at 12:00 p.m., while the bell tower of the Grosseto cathedral is illuminated at 11:54.39 a.m., or just before Rome!

Inside the duomo:

A close inspection of the brown and white marble piers revealed they are faced with wood that’s been painted to look like white and brown marbles. A column in a back corner of the church was original and was striped in the same manner, so that is obviously the source for the later renovated designs (including the facade).

The Romanesque cathedral, the main monument of the city, is named for its patron St. Lawrence, and was begun at the end of the 13th century, by architect Sozzo Rustichini of Siena. Erected over the earlier church of Santa Maria Assunta, it was only finished in the 15th century (mainly due to the continuing struggles against Siena).

The façade of alternate layers of white and dark brown marble is Romanesque in style, but is almost entirely the result of 16th century and 1816–1855 restorations: it retains some decorative parts of the original buildings, including Evangelists’ symbols. The layout consists of a Latin cross, with transept and apse. The interior has a nave with two aisles, separated by cruciform pilasters. The main artworks are a wondrously carved baptismal font from 1470–1474 and the Madonna delle Grazie by Matteo di Giovanni (1470).

The campanile (bell tower) was finished in 1402, and restored in 1911.

Construction on the Grosseto duomo began at the end of the 13th century, under the architect Sozzo Rustichini of Siena. Erected over the earlier church of Santa Maria Assunta, it was not finished until the 15th century (mainly because of the continuing wars against Siena).

The façade of alternate layers of white and black marble is Romanesque in style, but is almost entirely the result of restorations in the 16th century and in 1816–1855; it retains decorative parts of the original buildings, including the symbols of the Evangelists. The groundplan is a Latin cross, with transept and apse. The interior has a nave with two aisles, separated by cruciform pilasters. The main artworks are a wondrously carved baptismal font from 1470–1474 and the Madonna delle Grazie by Matteo di Giovanni (1470).

The campanile (bell tower) was finished in 1402, and restored in 1911.

Confessionals are always a big part of the furniture in Italy’s Catholic churches. Usually they are wooden, and sometime very elaborate carved. The duomo in Grosseto had many confessionals but they were interestingly all made of stone as above. I don’t recall ever seeing that before.
There’s a sundial and original Gothic style tracery around the windows and over the pilasters.
Next to the church is the town hall of Grosseto.

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