Città Vecchia

The Old Town clusters around triangular Piazza Garibaldi. Today, the medieval buildings guard over sleepy cafes with tables out on the flagstones or shaded under arcades. The square is anchored at one end by the steeply angled off-kilter steps of the Duomo, turned slightly as if to show off its good side and bell tower (open daily 8am-noon and 3-6pm). The bulk of the building was raised in travertine in the early 13th century with Pisan-Romanesque blind arcading, but the Gothic style had hit town by the time they got to the top half of the facade, so it was crowned with an architecturally agile arcade of slender columns and pink and white marble. Above the main door lintel, a 12th-century Pisan sculptor carved a relief panel celebrating the miracle-ridden life of Massa's patron saint and one-time bishop, 9th-century African immigrant San Cerbone, to whom the cathedral is dedicated -- spot the scene for which he's most famous, when he took a flock of geese to see the Pope.

The interior is supported by fat travertine columns with flowing Corinthian capitals. Just inside the entrance is a font carved with St. John the Baptist scenes by Giroldo da Como from a single block of travertine (1267). The tabernacle balancing above it is an anonymous 15th-century Sienese work. In the apse behind the altar is the Arca di San Cerbone. This marble urn sheltering the remains of the town patron is covered with reliefs depicting the saint's life carved in 1324 by little-known Sienese Gothic talent Goro di Gregorio.


Across the piazza from the Duomo is the 13th-century Palazzo del Podestà -- recognizable by the old mayoral coats of arms. From the narrow end of Piazza Garibaldi, Via Moncini branches steeply up from Via della Libertà toward the New Town.

Città Nuova

The upper part of town is only "new" by virtue of the fact that the conquering Sienese revamped it after 1335. You enter the New Town through the Porta alla Silici, part of the cassero fortifications built by the Sienese (1337-38). The gate's back side sprouts a narrow flying arch framing the trees of the tiny park beyond -- though built as a viaduct for the Sienese garrisons, it was made more for show than for sound military purposes. The arch connects the fortress ramparts to the 1228 Torre del Candeliere, a clock tower since 1443 and still impressive at two-thirds of its original 60m (197 ft.). You can climb it for views over the ramparts. April through October, it's open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 1pm and 3 to 6pm; November through March, it's open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 1pm and 2:30 to 4:30pm. Admission is 3€ adults, 2€ children 13 and under and seniors 60 and over.


Massa's art highlight is the Museo d'Arte Sacra, Corso Diaz 36 (tel. 0566-901-954;, built largely to showcase Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Maestà, painted in the late 1330s. Sitting at the feet of Mary nuzzling her baby is a glowing reddish Lorenzetti angel, and amid the stacks of saintly halos on the right is black-robed St. Cerbone, his geese milling about his feet. During the baroque era, which didn't care for these early "crude" paintings, the city lost track of the work, and it wasn't rediscovered until 1867, by which point it had been divided into five pieces and, nailed together, was serving as an ash bin for a stove. Elsewhere in the small collection is a fine stained-glass Crucifixion by Ambrogio's brother, Pietro. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 1pm and 3 to 6pm (11am-1pm and 3-5pm Nov-Mar). Admission is 6€ adults and 4€ children 13 and under and seniors 60 and over.

The Museo degli Organi Meccanici, Corso Diaz 28 (tel. 0566-940-282;, houses a unique collection of organs rescued from churches across Italy, from Bologna to Naples, and restored here in the museum. Some of the instruments date back to 1600; there's also an early ghironda (hurdy-gurdy) and a line of fortepianos dating from 1700s Vienna to the early 20th century. If you're lucky the proprietor will give you an improvised demo of the instruments in action -- they're all in working order. June through September the museum is open 10am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm; March through May afternoon hours are 4 to 6pm; and October through mid-January it's open 10:30am to 12:30pm and 3 to 6pm. From mid-January through February, it's closed and it's always closed Sunday and Mondays. Admission costs 5€, 4€ for children and seniors.

To learn more about the town's fascinating subterranean heritage, don your hard hat and head underground at the Museo della Miniera, Via Corridoni (tel. 0566-902-289;, where a guided tour of 700m (2,300 ft.) of authentically reconstructed 1940s mineshaft gets you inside the life and mind of a miner in these mineral-rich hills. Tours run Tuesday to Sunday approximately hourly 10am to noon and 3 to 5:45pm (last tour 4:30pm Nov-Mar). Adults pay 5€ for the 45-minute visit; it's 3€ for children and seniors.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.