15
May

History of Massa

 

grosso

The territory of Massa has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as the remarkable findings, in the areas around the City called Monacelle and Tane, have shown. Both the Etruscan and Roman period have left important traces in the areas of Lago dell’Accesa, Poggio Castiglione and Massa Vecchia. In addition to the objects now visible in the Archaeological Museum, it is to mention the Hercules Callinicus, found in the 18th century and preserved in Florence, and the Roman sarcophagus, discovered in 1500 and kept in the Cathedral. The name Massa means fairly large mass of property and, until the unification of Italy it was only used to identify the city. No other name was used except, occasionally, Metallorum, to indicate the primary activities of the Free City, or Marittima to indicate the position on Maremma (the other Massa, the provincial capital, was a fortress that became part of Tuscany in 1859). Massa Marittima became important when the Bishop of Populonia moved his headquarter here to escape the pirates. Since that moment, the systematic exploitation of mineral wealth and the production of widely used metals, including precious silver, began. The emergence of a rich class of producers and traders of silver resulted in the birth of the Free City, which remained independent from 1225 to 1335, historical period of greatest prosperity, in which the monuments, that we can still admire, were built. After the loss of independence, the plague of 1348 and the depletion of silver ore led to a mass depopulation and decline (from nearly 20,000 inhabitants in the period of maximum expansion at about 500 in the following centuries), which lasted until the half of 1700. In 19th and 20th century, with the resumption of mining, the city rediscovered prosperity and culture. At that time, it was one of the Hundred Cities of Italy active in the Italian Risorgimento with its brave volunteers and it was cornerstone of the fight against fascism, with so many deaths and sacrifices of the people, to make merit to the City the Silver Medal for Military Valor. Norma Parenti, Golden Medal for Military Valor and killed just 23 years, was heroin at the time.

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