Massa is surrounded by a natural landscape boasting a wealth of attractions and unexpected features: from dense woodland to the small hamlets of Tatti, Prata, Niccioleta and Valpiana.
Tatti, an ancient town which originally belonged to the Aldobrandeschi family and later to Siena, still bears the marks left by the conquerors who passed through: its castle tower, medieval walls and the impressive arched doorway have all survived in excellent condition to the present day. The medieval layout of the Church of St Sebastian, renovated in the 18th century, is still visible.
Prata is a small town perched on a hillside. It is a pretty place with an unusual layout and history. In the past, the town was tied by feudal allegiances to the Bishop of Massa and was later conquered by Siena. There are still clear traces of its medieval past, such as the old Castle and the ancient church of Our Lady of the Assumption. Due to its unusual location, isolated from larger cities, the town also boasts an extraordinary range of rare vegetable and fruit varieties originally from the area. The city’s Historic Orchard is open to visitors and features examples of this unusual flora, transplanted there and saved from extinction.
Niccioleta, which was founded as a small mining village, still preserves the typical appearance of such places. Surrounded by lush vegetation, it features a small church, the building where the mine’s director stayed and the small houses where miners lived. The town was founded to extract pyrite in the late 1800s.
Valpiana, a small town located between Massa and the sea, was founded in the 14th century as a metalworking centre processing the Iron that was brought in from the island of Elba. Metalworking in the village ended following the creation of a large steelworks in nearby Follonica, however the town still bears the marks of its past, the remains of its ironworks and the first furnace dating from 1300.
The technological and archaeological park
The Tuscan Mining Geopark is one of the most important local parks. This environment features the most exceptional traces of the archaeological and industrial past left behind by the area’s mining and metalworking history, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Set up by the Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of Land, the park was founded to protect disused industrial sites and mines in order to preserve the historical and cultural roots of a region that based its livelihood on the land’s resources for approximately 3,000 years. To ‘visit’ it, click here.
The Lake Accesa area
Lake Accesa is a small and unusual lakeside habitat surrounded by oaks, holly oaks and reeds, as well as the remains of an Etruscan civilisation that seems to have already settled there in the 9th century bc, not to mention the traces of more recent mining and agricultural activities.
From excavations carried out in the area in the past and as yet ongoing, a great deal of evidence has emerged of the existence of an Etruscan settlement dating from the 7th-6th centuries bc on the banks of the lake, as well as tombs that testify to a human settlement in the area from as far back as the 9th century bc. This settlement, divided into districts and recognised as one of the few urban centres known in Etruria, was part of a series of small towns located in the sphere of influence of Vetulonia, along routes that were linked to the mining activities carried out in the region. Thanks to the nearby existence of mineral deposits, the Etruscans were able to extract silver, lead, iron materials and gold there. The Etruscan industrial district developed in the nearby hills. Artefacts from this era are all preserved in the Park of Etruscan Civilisation set up by the borough council and other local authorities in partnership with the University of Florence in 2001. In the localities of Forni dell’Accesa and La Pesta, located in the park, visitors will come across the remains of the blast furnaces, evidence that ironworking activity continued during the Roman era and in the 1700s. After industrial activity ended and the land was reclaimed by the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, the area was set aside for the cultivation of tobacco. Click here to visit the park. The park is always open. For further details, contact Massa Marittima Archaeological Museum: +39 0566 902289
Today, the lake is a tranquil place where visitors can swim surrounded by countryside. The lake is fed by the Bruna River and spreads out in a transparent pool with a depth that varies between 65-230 feet.
Location: Lake Accesa is 5 miles south-east of Massa Marittima and can be reached via the locality of La Pesta.