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Towns of the area

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Grosseto

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Inhabitants in 1991: 71.257

The municipal territory of Grosseto extends for 474,33 square kilometres in an area of plains in the lower valley of the river Ombrone. Dominion of the Aldobandeschi in the Medieval era, Seat of the Diocese from 1138, it became capital of the province in 1766. It has not suffered any important changes to its border, from the end of the 1700 incorporating the communities of Istia and Batignano and, from 1905 Montepescali.

Already in the Etruscan era, as documented by datable archaeological findings between the V and the II century B.C., the presence of a small habitation was ascertained in the area where today extends the urban area of Grosseto. The true development of the settlement was however, initiated in the Dark Ages, it coincided with the progressive ruin of the nearby Roselle. Probably born as a transit “hospital” on the Via Aurelia, Grosseto is cited in two documents respectively in 803 and 973 (in the latter it was proposed as a chatelain centre), which attests the subordinate tie to the Count Aldobrandeschi dynasty which it had from its origin. Even though the development of the subsequent events is somewhat obscure, it is logical to maintain that the small castle had acquired more importance, above all in respect of the by now decadent Roselle, because in 1138 Papa Innocenzo II raised it to the level of “Civitas “ and transferred the Episcopal Seat there. Nevertheless until the middle of the XII century there manifested in the physiognomy of Medieval Grosseto certain elements of contradiction and weakness: in the first place the emerging municipal organisation developed within the sphere of the Episcopal authority and remained within the solid power system of the Aldobrandeschi Counts; also the full autonomy and the economic development of Grosseto were heavily conditioned by the unfortunate position of the city, planned in an unhealthy and unsafe plain (so much so that in 1179 it was planned to transfer it to the nearby hills) and, above all by the political and economic expansion of Siena who had interested themselves in Grosseto since the beginning of their organisation. In 1151 the Grosseto citizens already had to take an oath to Siena for military help and for the concession of warehouses on road to the city. Later, at the beginning of the XIII century, Siena obtained the monopoly of salt from the Aldobrandeschi, thus assuring an important asset, in exactly the same year in which the counts conceded autonomous space and limited power in fiscal matters to Grosseto. In the course of the 1200s to the slow and gradual conquest of major independence from the Aldobrandesca dynasty, were confirmed a series of attempts of rebellion and revendication by the lesser city against the dominant one.

In 1224 the rebellion cost Grosseto the devastation of the city and the destruction of the walls; the other short lived attempts made in 1259, 1260 and 1266 for free themselves of the Siena subjugation only served to reconfirm its subalternity. But the consolidation of Siena’s power did not on the other hand cancel completely the rights of the Aldobrandeschi, confirmed in 1221 in a privilege by Emperor Federico II. In 1274 with the act of the division of the Asdobrandesca county, Grosseto had to have been of particular importance if it is true that it remained undivided between the branch of Santa Fiora and that of Sovana. Only between the end of the 1200s and the beginning of the 1300s a progressive detachment between the ancient dynasty and the city is registered, which favoured the rise of the town family group of Abati del Malia. Between 1310 and 1312, their government brought about two successful rebellions against the Siena authority, who were forced to accept their dominion over Grosseto but Siena in 1317 imposed on them an alliance but one of subordination. In 1328 the Aldobrandeschi of Santa Fiora, taking advantage of the support of the Emperor Ludovico il Bavaro, also tried to take the control of the city from the Abati, but the attempt, destined to failure, only determined a further strengthening of Siena’s political position. Thus between 1334 and 1336, after new rebellions by Grosseto and the Abati del Malia, the Siena government managed to subjugate the city definitively, who from that moment remained subservient to the republic, with the exception of a brief attempt at autonomy in 1355, following the fall of the Nove government at Siena. During the era of the Siena dominion new fortification works were started and provisions were made for the land reclaims which allowed them to even overcome the agricultural and demographic crisis which was sweeping Europe at that time; but in 1363 a new plague epidemic hit the Maremma and, eight years later, the population of Grosseto was reduced to a few hundred family nuclei. Subsequently to the progressive degradation of the city were added frequent attacks and devastation of the territory, as in 1447 by the Napoleonic troops of King Alfonso d’Aragona and in 1455 with raids by the adventurer company of Iacopo Piccinino. Only in the last years of the Siena republic did Grosseto re-acquire importance, above all as the furthermost stronghold of the State’s territory.

After the Medici conquest in 1559, four years after the fall of Siena, the new dominators initiated great fortification works, among which was the start of the encircling wall, started in 1574 under Francesco I and finished in 1593 under Ferdinando I. The economic revival which had characterised the first years of the Medicea domination was interrupted however in the first decade of the XVI century with the death of the Grand Duke Cosimo II, also for the abandonment of the land reclaim and redevelopment works. Grosseto lived a new grave period of decline almost finishing in its disappearance (at the beginning of the 1700 the inhabitants were by now little more than 700). It revived with the coming of Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena to the Grand Duchy throne (1765), when the province of Grosseto was separated from that of Siena, but even more so later after the start of the reclaim works and the redevelopment brought about by Leopoldo II (1828). During the last war 1943-44, Grosseto was subjected to numerous aerial bombardments. 15 June 1944, it was liberated by the Partisan forces. As with Firenze, Grosseto suffered in November 1966 from a devastating flood, during which the courage of its population and the intelligent work of its administrators was praised on the pages of the leading international press. The city has given birth to the writer and translator Luciano Bianciardi (1922-1971). In its surrounds the capital has of notable historic importance not only the Etruscan Roselle but also the castles of Batignano Montepescali and Istia.

 

Places to visit:
Medicee Walls from1564, were transformed by Leopoldo II in 1835 into public avenues and gardens.
Medecea Fortress, imposing construction from the second half of the 1500s built around the 1300s Siena Keep.
Piazza Dante, 1400 surrounded with porticos has at its centre a cistern from the Lorenese era and a monument to Leopoldo II
Museum of Archaeology and Maremma Art, divided in archaeological sections from the Prehistoric to the Medieval, composed of exhibits collected by Giovanni Chelli, founder of the museum. The museum also holds a collection of Sacred Art.
Civil Museum of Natural History recently instituted (1960) illustrates the nature ambient of the Maremma.
Cathedral, dedicated to S. Lorenzo, it was initiated in 1294 and concluded in 1400. In the following centuries it was restored several times and in 1840 the façade and the stripes of red and white marble were redone. The Latin cross interior holds, together with precious works of art, a large baptismal font by Antonio Ghini of the XIV century.
S. Francesco, 1200 church in Gothic style has a finely frescoed nave.

Historical info reproduced upon authorization of Regione Toscana - Dipartimento della Presidenza E Affari Legislativi e Giuridici
Translated by Ann Mountford

 
 
 
   
 
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