Grosseto is a city in the central Italian region of Tuscany. The city lies 14 kilometres (9 miles) from the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the Maremma, at the centre of an alluvial plain on the Ombrone river.

It is the most populous city in Maremma, with over 81,000 inhabitants.

This town developed later than others most ancient Maremma’s villages, presumably it dates back to 935, when Roselle was fully destroyed by the Saracene pirates. The old city centre is very characteristic, enclosed by the Medicean walls which still keep their original shape. What’s more, an extended pedestrian area makes this town particularly appealing and people-friendly.

The old town is enclosed by a 16th-century hexagonal wall, a rampart of which bears the arms of the Florentine Medici family. The new town was much developed after 1930 in conjunction with a program of reclamation of the Maremma. Notable landmarks include the Romanesque cathedral (rebuilt 1294, much restored) and an archaeological museum with Etruscan and Roman antiquities. About 5 miles (8 km) northeast, near the warm mineral springs of Bagno Roselle, are the remains of the ancient Etruscan and Roman city and episcopal see of Rusellae. Grosseto is an important commercial and agricultural centre on the railway from Rome to Pisa.

Grosseto is ‘Il Cuore della Maremma Toscana’ (the Heart of the Tuscan Maremma) and not just because it’s the capital. Compared to other towns, Grosseto isn’t old, it was founded in 1138, but somehow it managed to acquire a regalia and charm in those short years that makes it just as enthralling and just as beautiful as any Etruscan or Roman-founded city.

You’ll be surprised to find there’s a little bit of animosity between the Grossetani, those who live in Grosseto, and the average country-born Maremman. Used to the tranquil life where tradition reigns and the days are free from change or surprise, most Maremmani scoff at the idea of living in Grosseto – convinced that it’s far too busy, loud and generally chaotic.

In reality, Grosseto is little more than a big town. Its town centre is made up of one main street, but that street is lined with the most elegant-looking shops, from bookshops with antique exposed beams to a wedding dress shop hidden inside a medieval palazzo.

Right at the end of this strip is Piazza Dante, Grosseto’s heart. Everything in this piazza faces a statue of Leopoldo II – who stands tall with a desperate-looking woman and an adoring child at his feet. At one end, the elegant shops continue under a canopy of wood and stone, while at another end, the grand Palazzo della Provincia captures your eye with its distinctly proud, military-esque facade. While at another end still, the white marble Cattedrale di San Lorenzo sits in wait as a testament of the rich religious heritage that animates Grosseto.

And that’s only the beginning. Those who know little about Grosseto, visit the city, savor the ancient buildings and take in the modern-flecked-with-traditional lifestyle of the Grossetani. But those who truly want to experience Grosseto don’t keep to the city centre. They explore the winding alleys where the locals mix with a surprisingly strong Asian community. They step outside the tourist-filled strip and into the chaotic streets lined with charming stores and authentic restaurants. They go further still, to the deserted beaches and oak-filled forests of the Parco Regionale della Maremma – easily the most beautiful nature reserve in the territory.

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