It’s that corner of Tuscany, once Etruria, the land of the Etruscans, that even before the birth of Christ was home to a highly-evolved society, based on mining the resources that were hidden below the surface. Their primary peculiarity is made clear in the name: they’re the Metalliferous Hills, in Northern Maremma, a sea of wavy highlands situated where the provinces of Pisa, Siena and Grosseto meet.
Deep within them are an incredible variety of metals, from silver to copper, pyrite to zinc, making this area a mining and commercial centre since Antiquity. It was during the medieval area that so many small villages, dominated by towers and castles, began to pop up, many of which still dot the hills today. On these rolling, forest-covered slopes of cultivated land, mining was a resource used for developing the territory: this is how fortified towns safeguarding the copper and silver mines – which were used for minting coins – were founded, including Montieri, Monterotondo Marittima and the capital of the area, Massa Marittima.
Massa Marittima, gently stretched across a hill from which you can admire the final expansions of the Maremma, encloses behind its walls one of the most elegant architectural complexes in Tuscany. The city reached the height of prosperity in the 13th and 14th centuries, when it became a free commune and “silver fever” spread throughout the surrounding mines. Strolling around the historic centre you’ll can still breathe in the splendour of those days, especially in the wonderful piazza Garibaldi, which encircles the town hall, the Palazzo del Podestà and the Romanesque Cathedral of San Cerbone.
A walk in the Metalliferous Hills means giving yourself the chance to come face-to-face with history and the landscape. This is precisely what you will experience on the route between Massa Marittima and Lake Accesa, a small basin around which important ruins of Etruscan civilization were found.