Toscana - Places to Visit - Massa
Massa stands 65 m. above sea level at the mouth of the Frigido valley, at the foot of the Apuan Alps (Mount Pisanino, 1,945 m.), a few kilometres from the Tyrrhenian coast.
Of medieval origin, it was long contested by various signories before, in 1442, together with nearby Carrara coming under the Malaspinas of Fosdinovo, later succeeded by the Cybo Malaspinas (1553).
When this family line became extinct, Massa passed to the Estensis, the Dukes of Modena. After the Napoleonic period (1796-1815) it was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1859. It is the capital of the province of Massa Carrara. From 1939-1946 the town was known as Apuania.
The oldest part of the town centre is of interest. It is partly surrounded by walls, beyond which stretches a newer district which started to grow in the 16th century, on Cybo's orders, following a precise urban plan.
Monuments: Palazzo Cybo Malaspina (18th century faade, interesting interior), Duomo (14th century, frescoes, 13th century wooden crucifix), Rocca (of medieval origin, with Renaissance additions, overlooking the town).
The economy of Massa, traditionally linked to the exploitation of marble from the nearby Apuan Alps, has in recent decades developed considerably also in the engineering, chemical, foodstuffs and building materials sectors. The town is also a fair- sized commercial centre.
Events: Apuan Alps Literary Award.
Famous People: Felice Palma (sculptor, 1583-1625), Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi (musician and composer, 1728-1804).
Cultural Institutions: Museo Storico di Arte Sacra, Religious Art Museum, Orto Botanico (botanical gardens, at Pian della Fioba, 1,000 m. 15 km away), Museo del Duomo.
In the Province: Pontremoli (home of booksellers, Premio Bancarella-Literary award), Aulla (Research and studies of Lunigiana), Fivizzano (Archery competition 2nd Sunday in July), Marina di Massa (seaside resort).