Divided between the provinces of Livorno, Pisa, Siena and Grosseto is the largest mountain-hill group of the whole of Tuscany: the Colline Metallifere. With the exception of two peaks, Poggio di Montieri and Cornate di Gerfalco, both above 1,000 m (3,280 feet), the area is predominantly hilly and conceals a rich variety of mineral resources, whence the name the “Metal-bearing Hills”. Here the metal resources have been exploited since at least the Etruscan period, reaching its peak of production in the mid-19th century.
In the heart of the Grosseto province sits at 380 m (1,250 feet) the beautiful medieval town of Massa Marittima. With a history of mineral exploitation, in the surroundings can be found mineral springs, mines, foundries and ironworks, while in nearby Follonica, on the coast, are the furnaces. The main attraction of town, however, is the magnificent 13th-century Saint Cerbonius Cathedral with its Romanesque-Roman style and Latin cross plan, flanked by its over 37 m (124.2 feet) bell tower.
Another main sight of Massa Marittima is the Monteregio Castle, built by the Aldobrandeschi family in the 9th century right in the heart of the old town centre. Later it was used as the bishops’ residence and in 1774 the House of Lorraine turned it into a hospital. Around the hill it was built, the town developed during the centuries. The hill of Monteregio bestowed its name to the various types of DOC wine (red, white, rosé, Novello, Riserva and obviously vin santo) which are produced in the area of the Colline Metallifere of the province of Grosseto that occupies the entire north-western territory.
The trail crosses wild, harsh landscapes as well as lush countryside covered in olive groves and vineyards. It passes through magnificent medieval villages and towns such as Monterotondo, Montieri, Follonica, Scarlino, Gavorrano, Roccastrada and Castiglione della Pescaia. Here one can savour the typical tortelli of Maremma (raviolis), the acquacotta soup and the pappardelle pasta with hare sauce. Wild boar instead makes the main dishes or ends up in sausages. However, this is not only a food and wine legacy, this is above all a cultural and natural heritage. Straw and leather, clay and tuff, brier-root and olive wood have been for centuries the raw materials of local handicraft. Meanwhile, medieval castles blend with natural reserves and imposing archaeological sites in a marriage between sea and mountain that is typical of all this Italian peninsula.
A trip in this yet undiscovered territory is worthwhile for both the heart and the palate.