Haven’t visited Massa yet? We recommend 8 things not to miss among castles, villages, squares, artistic and architectural treasures
Capital of the province of Massa Carrara with the city of Carrara, Massa is a city with ancient roots. Here you can still breathe the medieval atmosphere and admire the treasures of art and architecture. Massa is located in the north-west of Tuscany, on the border with Liguria. Massa itself, together with its neighbouring rival Carrara, constitutes the province of Massa Carrara.
You will be fascinated and amazed by Massa, with its multitude of things to see, its well-preserved historic centre, and the friendliness of its inhabitants. Get ready to discover all their secrets!
Haven’t been in to Massa yet? There are plenty of reasons to do so, both in summer and winter.
Here, 8 must-sees:
1. Piazza Aranci
We may begin our visit from the main square, Piazza Aranci. It is named after the two rows of orange trees that surround it on three sides. From here we can see the Ducal Palace, while in the centre stands a large obelisk, surrounded by four sculptures of lions, whose mouths end in the fountain.
The square is an attractive meeting place for locals. In addition, the pedestrian street of the old town, bars, restaurants and shops begins here.
2. The Ducal Palace
As we said, in Piazza Aranci the most significant building is undoubtedly the Ducal Palace, which occupies the entire eastern side. The building, also known as Palazzo Rosso or Palazzo della Prefettura, dates back to 1563 in perfect Renaissance style.
In the following centuries it took on a Baroque appearance, especially on the outside, while inside, after the entrance we find a courtyard with columns and stairs, at the end of which there are statues of Neptune riding the waves. Nowadays, part of the Ducal Palace is a museum and can therefore be visited, both outside and inside.
3. Piazza Mercurio
Another major historical square in Massa is Piazza Mercurio. It is named after the statue of Mercury that stands at its centre. It is a must-see monument, as it is so beautiful, lively and crowded, especially on Tuesday mornings with the town market.
In the background you can see a fountain, built in 1566, in fact the square was originally called Piazza Pozzo.
4. The cathedral of Massa
You can’t miss the city’s most remarkable church, the Duomo di Massa (its cathedral). It consists of six domes, spread over two floors separated by a balcony. At the top of each one is a painted fresco depicting religious scenes. It is worth a visit to the interior where we can admire several paintings dating back to the late 17th century, including the Immaculate Conception and All Saints by Luigi Gazi.
5. Theater Guglielmi
It is no coincidence that Piazza Teatro is home to Teatro Guglielmi (the theatre), a historic building constructed in the 19th century due to the need for a larger performance venue. It was designed by the famous Italian architect Vincenzo Micheli, in memory of Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi, Massa’s most famous musician.
The theatre is one of the most elegant buildings in the city and has a striking neoclassical façade with a large portico supporting the external aisle. On the other hand, the interior is elliptical in style and structured in three tiers of boxes, above which is a large gallery. It has recently been restored and enriched with an extensive calendar of events that truly suits the tastes of every audience.
6. The Church of Madonna del Monte
The Church of Madonna del Monte was built at the foot of Monte di Pasta and it is one of the oldest buildings in Massa. Prince Alberico Cybo-Malaspina commisioned its construction to enrich Massa with monasteries and churches.
The building is very elegant and has this splendid façade punctuated by pilasters and columns with Corinthian capitals supporting a tympanum. The interior has a single nave on the walls of which you can see four chapels with altars dedicated to Saint Augustine, Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, the Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Good Counsel.
7. Malaspina Castle
Behind the centre, on a hill, you can also see the Rocca Malaspina, also known as the Malaspina Castle. From here we can admire the Tuscan coast, with views stretching from Liguria to Livorno. The fortress bears the name of the Malaspina family, which dominated Massa during the mid-15th century.
Under their dominion, the building underwent radical transformations. In fact, today the oldest wall structures have almost disappeared. It is also very fascinating to visit the interior of the residential building and the underground rooms, dug directly into the rock.
8. Villa della Rinchiostra
The picturesque Villa della Rinchiosta was built at the behest of Princess Teresa Pamphili, wife of Carlo II Cybo-Malaspina. Coming from a rich and sumptuous Roman family, she wanted to create a ‘rural‘ environment where she could live in the modest splendour of a small court.
The successive owners over the centuries enriched the villa and in particular the garden and park, only partially visible today. Villa la Rinchiostra is a magnificent three-storey building, somewhat reminiscent of the Ducal Palace in terms of certain architectural elements and the use of contrasting red and white. Inside the villa, there is an interesting museum dedicated to the sculptor Gigi Guadagnucci.
Eco-friendly holiday in Massa
For your holiday in harmony with nature, in Massa, you can find several accommodation facilities oriented towards ecotourism and environmental sustainability.
The eco-sustainable facilities in and around Massa offer their guests a unique, immersive experience in nature, with minimal impact on the surrounding environment. Among the available options, one can find campsites, glamping, agritourism, bed and breakfasts and hotels with a low environmental impact, which use renewable energy sources, promote the use of local and organic products and implement policies to reduce waste and water and energy consumption.
Some facilities also offer nature-related activities, such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding or tasting local products. Choosing to stay in an eco-sustainable structure in Massa means contributing to preserving the environment and the natural beauty of the area, and at the same time living an authentic and relaxing experience in a natural and cosy setting.
Cover image via Canva Pro