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Grosseto & Maremma Guide Italy

History and culture

History and culture

For a long time the Maremma was one of the poorest parts of Italy. It was covered by unhealthy swamps where malaria and cholera were endemic.

Grosseto, the provincial capital of the Maremma, began to develop around 935, after Roselle, an ancient city that was first Etruscan and then Roman, was devastated by the Saracens.

In 1138, it was granted the rank of Civitas, when Pope Innocent II also transferred the archdiocese from Roselle. From the 11th century, it was a feudal holding of the Aldobrandeschi, passing under the dominion of Siena until they both fell under the control of Florence and Cosimo de Medici in 1559. The noble Florentine family stimulated the city's economic recovery, digging canals and constructing the city's present walls and public buildings. The Medici attempted to reclaim the countryside but without much success. It was only in 1765, with the arrival of the Grand Dukes of Lorraine, that the swamps began to be drained. Grosseto came definitively to life under Grand Duke Leopold II (1828) and the great reclamation that was achieved through significant hydraulic engineering works that made the Maremma fertile and luxuriant. In those days, the fields were owned by a few great families while the peasant laborers lived in conditions of misery. This period saw the development of banditry whose unquestioned hero was the brigand Tiburzi. The life of this Italian Robin Hood has become legend and his fame as a defender of the poor has come down to us intact.

Finally, the Agency for the Maremma was created in 1951, an important event that had a tremendous impact on a large part of the area. Houses and roads were built and the Agency for the Maremma expropriated, subdivided and reclaimed the entire area, assigning plots of land to a peasant class that had never owned anything.

Photos courtesy of: Agenzia Turismo della Maremma & Municipality of Grosseto

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