Ah, Tuscany. The land of vineyards, of romantic getaways, of art and literature. And for this year, also the land where by romantic partner had to move for work related reasons. Being the curious pinball that I am, we obviously had to take the opportunity to explore all our surroundings and make the most of his time here. And I must say, most places did not disappoint. So, read ahead to find out more about today’s stop: Massa!
Massa is a relatively small city counting just below 70,000 heads, lying 5km from the Tyrrhenian sea in the Frigido River Valley, near the Alpi Apuane. Fun fact, the name Massa comes from the Bible and means ‘lifting up a burden, uplifting, or a gift’ in Hebrew. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
In fact, Massa acts as administrative centre for the Massa-Carrara area, covering a larger space that the city itself would suggest. This is why, more often than not, people looking for information on Massa will land on articles advertising the whole area rather than the single city (which is also what makes this post useful!).
Massa, not to be confused with its seaside reflection Marina di Massa, welcomes visitors with a majestic main square, Piazza degli Aranci, hosting the Palazzo Ducale. In fact, the square used to be half its size back in Napoleon times; however, under the will of Eleonora Bonaparte, the San Pietro church was demolished to enlarge the space. On top of this, below the square lies an air-raid shelter built during World War I, and sometimes often to visits. The square used to be partly dedicated to parking up until 2012, after which it was turned fully pedestrian. Moving from here, the streets will naturally take you to the Cattedrale di San Pietro Apostolo e San Francesco d’Assisi, roughly dated around 1400 and definitely a must-see in Massa.
What makes this small city stand out are the beautiful alleyways leading to Piazza Mercurio, the lively heart of the town adorned with restaurant and bars for everyone’s taste and really reflecting the relaxed and peaceful vibe of Massa. At the back of the square, you will then find an upward street leading up to Castello Malaspina, arguably the main attraction of the city. Whilst uphill, the walk is relatively short and in 5 minutes you will be able to reach this stunning piece of architecture. Dating back to Medieval times, the castle was actually utilized as a prison for most of its lifespan: following the entrance of SS troops in 1944 and the killing of all detainees, the prison was closed shortly after in 1946, after the end of World War II.
Needless to say, the views from the hill are absolutely phenomenal: personally, we decided to visit at night to get a suggestive view of the coast’s bright lights in the dark. However, visiting during the day will provide a stunning view over Tuscany’s land and sea that I for sure will come back for in the future. Below, some photos takes during the visit for you to check out!
Have you ever been to Massa? What did you like about it? What would you like to see?
Hope you’ve having a great day!