The Italian Hilltop Village Which Served As a Military Watchtower For Benito Musolini During World War II

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TRAVEL: by Eric Mackenzie Lamb

Massa Maritima, located just over 100 miles north of Rome, dates back to 11,000 BC. Occupied continuously up to the present day, the area is famous for mines, copper, and iron. The village itself is over 1,000 years old. In the 10th century, bishops abandoned the coast of Populonia and took refuge around the hills of Montenegro.

Copper and silver mines provided great wealth and power to church authorities, but the townspeople were discontent. They fought for their own freedom and organized themselves independently as a free community.

Massa Maritima had more than 10,000 inhabitants. The small village attracted the envy of the Siennese, who, by force of arms, overcame the resistance of the town’s inhabitants. The plague was rife throughout Europe, and malaria was drastically reducing the population. In 1737, only 527 people lived there.

Its rebirth came when settlers and farmers from the countryside arrived, and the mines reopened. Copper, silver, and pyrite got the local economy back on its feet. They were to continue mining until 1994, when the last mine was shut down. Today, tourism has become the source of Massa Maritima’s new life.

 

The images below will show you why the area has become such a popular tourist destination.

Massa Maritima’s main square and church.
A symbol above the window which represents the fascist era under Benito Mussolini.
The interior of the church in Massa Maritima’s.
The town is alive with restaurants and shops.
A World War II bunker which housed military snipers during Mussolini’s reign.
A typical Tuscan villa in the nearby hills which is popular with visitors who rent them and enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding countryside.
Tuscan vineyard. The area is famous throughout the world for its wines.
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