What to see in Grosseto? Let’s make a stop in the province of Etruscan origins
In the heart of Tuscan Maremma, a wall protects the historic city of Grosseto, which has remained unchanged over time.
The first traces of this city date back to the Etruscan period, but the first evidence of the name “Grossito” was found in a parchment created in 803 AD.
Later Grosseto became a fief of the Aldobrandeschi family, who dominated the territory transforming the inhabited centre from castle to court and, finally, to civitas (from the Latin: city-state).
Under Ferdinand I, the city walls were destroyed and then rebuilt, hexagonal in shape, and still today they are the symbol of Grosseto.
Grosseto is a strong city in appearance but with a quiet soul, with a view on the sea and one on the magnificent landscape towards the province.
An interesting place to visit and for all tastes: deciding what to do in Grosseto and its surrounding areas will lead you to choose unique activities.
From visits to historic buildings and museums, to cycling or walking in the surrounding villages and nature reserves.
The sea is also a well-exploited resource of the territory with beautiful free and equipped beaches: Marina di Grosseto, Spiaggia delle Marze and Castiglione della Pescaia are only a part of the sandy coast that offers peace, relaxation but also sports and water activities in the Maremma.
Hiking and climbing in the Maremma Natural Park or a dip in Cala di Forno are just some of the thousands activities that you may put on your list of what to do in Grosseto and surrounding areas.
Not far from the city there are also Saturnia and Petriolo hot springs, popular destinations during both winter and summer months.
Things to see in Grosseto in one day
One day will be enough for you to visit the city, but what to see in Grosseto in particular?
A good starting point for a visit to Grosseto is the Cathedral, named after Saint Lawrence, the patron saint of the city, which stands on the previous church of Saint Mary.
Various renovations have changed the original style of the cathedral.
The facade recalls the Romanesque style. It has remained similar to the original facade with its Gothic sculptures and its recognisable rose window. Its white-red colour is a typical example of romantic art, dating back to the restorations of the 22nd century.
Architect and sculptor Sozzo Rustichini gave the cathedral a gothic touch, with two windows overlooking Piazza Dante Alighieri.
Access to the Cathedral is also possible for disabled people thanks to a ramp installed in 2013 and inside it is possible to visit the Cathedral with an audio guide. For blind or visually impaired people, they have thought of a tactile path with a reproduction of the cathedral map and the most important works of art, such as the baptismal font, the painting of Madonna delle Grazie and the crucifix of the Vecchietta.
Overlooking Piazza Dante, also called “Piazza delle Catene”, we find Palazzo Aldobrandeschi, seat of the Province of Grosseto.
There is the statue of Leopold II (called “Canapone” by the Tuscans because of his light hair, similar to hemp) in the centre of the square. He is represented heroically in the act of raising the Maremmans. In fact, history has it that it was the ruler who reclaimed much of the Maremma affected by malaria.
In the main square we also find a Roman column, probably coming from the Etruscan-Romanesque city of Roselle.
I have already talked about the importance of city walls and therefore they absolutely cannot be missing among the best things to see in Grosseto.
The Medici walls we admire today were completed in 1593 and they stand imposing thanks to the connection with six corner bastions.
One of these, the Fortress Bastion, has incorporated a “Cassero“, a central element used for the defense of the city in medieval times: it is the only one that survived the restoration of the mid-sixteenth century.
Today it is used for artistic and photographic exhibitions, as well as for other events.
In the main street (corso Carducci) we find Saint Peter’s Church, the oldest church of Grosseto.
Dating back to the early Middle Ages, the church is small in size with a single nave and a semicircular apse in Romanesque style.
Stone and travertine cover the external facades. You will notice different styles for the base and the bell tower. In fact, the latter was inserted only in the seventeenth century in a different material: brick.
In St. Francis’ Cloister you can admire “Pozzo della Bufala“, a water well once located in a grassy area which was subsequently paved. It was used to collect rainwater to supply the convent. A wonderful glimpse of Grosseto.
A few metres away you will find St. Francis’ Church: it is very simple on the outside, while on the inside it reveals magnificent seventeenth-century frescoes by the Nasini brothers and works of art by Duccio di Boninsegna such as the Crucifix.
I find it important that you include in your list of the best things to see in Grosseto the Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma (Museum of Sacred Art of the Diocese of Grosseto).
Developed over 3 floors, it houses about forty rooms telling the story of Maremma from its origins until today, making use of finds, documents and pieces of art.
Together with Handy Superabile, in the Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma, a museum guide has been made available to visitors with motor disabilities. A new initiative to imitate!
Another interesting place to visit in Grosseto is the Maremma Natural History Museum in Mazzini street, showcasing the complex biodiversity of Maremma.
8 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN GROSSETO
• Cathedral of Grosseto
• Dante Alighieri square
• Medici city walls
• Saint Peter’s Church
• St. Francis’ Cloister
• St. Francis’ Church
• Archaeological and Art Museum of Maremma
• Museum of Natural History of Maremma
Grosseto and surrounding areas: best things to see and do
What to do in Grosseto and surrounding areas? There are many activities to do in Maremma and in particular in Grosseto, the largest municipality in the region and the tenth in Italy.
In Seggiano, you can visit the Olive Oil Museum and explore the cultivation of high-quality olive oil.
Capalbio, Follonica and Castiglione della Pescaia are the ideal destinations to breathe in the fresh sea air and get lost in the narrow streets of enchanting villages.
Thanks to the WWF, from a former hunting reserve Burano Lake Reserve has become a protected oasis equipped for excursions, visits and observation activities to spot the local fauna.
On Garavicchio hill in Capalbio, in the province of Grosseto, the Tarot Garden from a distance may mistakenly seem like an attraction for children. It is actually an esoteric garden created by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle with cyclopean statues (up to 15 metres!) with a tarot theme. It fits so well into the Maremma landscape that it is defined as a real open-air museum, an example of environmental art.
Usually it is possible to visit it only in the period from April to October with restrictions on the number of visitors and times. All this is dictated by the possibility (once inside) of being able to move freely between the works without guides and pre-established itineraries.
Sometimes we think we have to go abroad to see something extravagant and different from our usual, but this is the proof that Italy can always surprise us!
Among the most beautiful villages to visit in Italy there is Pitigliano, an ancient city whose immemorial origins are still narrated.
At the centre of a vast lagoon there is Orbetello: this city is a destination for many visitors who often continue the day in the Lagoon Nature Reserve, after admiring the works of art located in the city. It is the favourite area for birdwatching and to admire the great variety of botanical species in the area. For nature lovers there is a garden entirely dedicated to butterflies!
Are you in the province of Grosseto and don’t you know what to do? Do you want to relax? Grosseto and surrounding areas have got many outdoor spas and swimming pools of natural origin.
Among the most important thermal springs, there are the free Saturnia hot springs, as well as “Cascate del Mulino” and Petriolo hot springs.
From Piombino an hour by ferry will take you to the Elba Island, to discover enchanted beaches. Absolutely an ideal opportunity to seize!
Local food & wine
Land and sea characterise the Maremma and local dishes reflect the biodiversity of this place.
Local appetisers are made up of cured meats and cheeses, including stracchino, ricotta and Pecorino Toscano PDO.
The Maremmana cattle (Slow Food Presidium) and Cinta Senese pigs are used for the production of excellent cold cuts or sauces to use with traditional fresh pasta.
Near Saturnia hot springs, not far from Pitigliano, there is an organic farm and agriturismo that is absolutely worth a visit.
It is definitely a special family-run farm: the family has been taking care of these hilly lands for more than fifty years, respecting what nature offers, using organic methods, raising Maremmana cattle and pigs in the wild.
They also deals with the production of cured meats with artisanal techniques and without preservatives!
Here, thanks to Italia Delight, you can spend a day at the farm and have lunch tasting the farm’s products or learn how to make traditional hand rolled pasta such as pappardelle, gnocchi and pici, or Maremma soups (an entirely vegetarian food experience!).
It is often thought that it is difficult not to eat meat in Tuscany. In reality, the local cuisine offers many tasty options: for example “acquacotta”, the chickpea soup from Maremma (a rustic vegetable soup with seasonal vegetables), and the famous “panzanella”.
As we have seen In Seggiano, Olivastra Seggianese is the main local olive oil variety. The local Food Expert selected by Italia Delight will introduce you to this high-quality extra virgin olive oil PDO: youl will have a walk among the olive trees and join the olive oil tasting, where you will learn how to recognise all the characteristics of extra virgin olive oil!
The food tour can end with a guided tour of the Olive Oil Museum in Seggiano.
Another local food is Bottarga from Orbetello: it is dried mullet roe served on croutons and seasoned with olive oil, lemon and pepper or used to make pasta.
For pasta sauces, ingredients such as wild boar, hare or truffles cannot be missing, as well as scampi and feminelle (small lagoon crabs).
A traditional first course from Grosseto and surrounding areas is the “Ciaffagnoni di Manciano”, similar to crepes and baked au gratin with béchamel and meat sauce. Sometimes they can be found stuffed with ricotta and spinach, as to remind cannelloni.
Sfratto di Goym is another Slow Food Presidium. It is a famous dessert from Pitigliano deriving from the Jewish tradition of the city: a thin puff pastry filled with apples, citrus peel, walnuts and flavoured with nutmeg.
Grosseto and surrounding areas offer many local specialities, but the town of Scansano is famous for having obtained the DOCG certification for one of the most symbolic Tuscan wines: the Morellino di Scansano.
A ruby red wine is obtained from Sangiovese grapes, with an intense aroma of forest fruit, spicy aromas and woody notes. A wine that pairs very well with the traditional cuisine from Grosseto.
Did you like the article on what to see in Grosseto and surrounding areas by Nur Migahed, a graduate student in Gastronomic Sciences and Cultures at Roma Tre University? Discover all the experiences and travel with Italia Delight!