“Historic” walk in Magliano in Toscana

On top of a hill, amongst olive trees, surrounded by majestic medieval walls, lies the historic centre of Magliano.

The oldest historic findings date back to 1081 however this does not exclude that Magliano might have existed in even more ancient times.

The name may originate from the Manli family that owned some estates in the region, or from the trip hammer (“maglio”), the tool used by a group of stonemasons living on the hill and comune di magliano in toscanaworking the travertine that was found in abundance in the area and that is still on the coat of arms.

From the 11th century onwards, Magliano was property of the Aldobrandeschi family and then the Senesi family; in 1558 it passed to the Medici who gave it to the Bentivoglio family as a fief; they kept it as lords and then marquis until 1789, when it went under the Lorena that had replaced the Medici in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

With the fall of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1861 it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.

THE WALLS

Arriving from Grosseto or Orbetello, the first thing that strikes the visitors is the city walls. They are medieval, partly dating back to the Aldobrandeschi (12th-14th Century) and partly to the Sienese (15th Century) dominations.

Le mura di Magliano - The walls - Pic. by Carlotta Santelli

Le mura di Magliano – The walls – Pic. by Carlotta Santelli

The Aldobrandeschi walls are easily visible in the southwest part, Porta S. Giovanni until the first semi-circular Sienese bastion. They also feature two squared towers. On top of the one near Porta S. Giovanni we can see a coat of arms of the Aldobrandeschi, as Palatine Counts, a stone with a wild boar carving and a trip hammer one.

The Porta di S. Martino in the north, at the end of the main high street, is also part of the Aldobrandeschi walls; from there you can enjoy a stunning view of the Tuscan countryside.

The Senesi walls, more majestic than the Aldobrandeschi ones, were built in the second half of the 15th Century. They feature seven circular and truly defensive towers.

The section overlooking the sea is beautiful and is worth visiting for the panoramic views it offers.

Let’s go inside the village now and see what it can offer!

Along the Corso, the main high street, before you arrive to Palazzo di Checco Bello, there is an archaeological interpretation centre where you can admire some finds brought to light by excavations in the Magliano countryside as well as a model of the Etruscan tomb called the “Chimeras’”, brought to light in the area of S. Andrea.

Unfortunately the most significant archaeological finds, such as the “Piombo di Magliano” and the Tabula Hebana, can only be seen in a picture, as they are kept respectively in the museums of Florence and Grosseto.

Further on, we find the PALAZZO DI CHECCO BELLO 

Checco il bello - il Palazzo/The Palace - Pic. by Carlotta Santelli

Checco il bello – il Palazzo/The Palace – Pic. by Carlotta Santelli

I think that the best description of this palace is given to us by Nicolosi in his book “La Montagna Maremmana” (The Maremma Mountain) (1911):

“Only three mullioned windows, very elegant to say the truth, a frame along the front making a sill, marking where they are located, and supporting its columns; a second one further up, parallel to the first one between the two windows, embracing with its rounded arch the two small Gothic arches corresponding to each one; a protruding shelf, a coat of arms and nothing else. But what a wonderful effect this frugal marble decoration has on a rough ashlar, and what a contrast between the bright whiteness of the marble and the warm, ochre and blood tint of the stone, especially when the sun hits it in a joyous way and brings it to life! “

The coat of arms on the facade should be the Monaldeschi’s who, as some historians suggest, had a hunting estate here.

Checco Bello (whose real name was Francesco Salvi) is not a historic character, but simply the nickname of the owner of the Palazzo in 1910 and the nickname was due to his good looks rather than his womanising tendencies.

THE SAINT JOHN BAPTIST CHURCH 

San Giovanni Battista - Chiesa/Church - pic. by Carlotta Santelli

San Giovanni Battista – Chiesa/Church – pic. by Carlotta Santelli

Built on Romantic foundations from the 13th Century, it features a beautiful facade from 1471, as we can read on the plaque. Inside the church, we can admire frescoes dating back to the 14th Century and beautiful altarpieces; a baptismal font in travertine from 1493; Romanic columns with a 13th Century capital; in the choir, two tabernacles set into the 13th Century walls; two thin columns with a capital from the same period.

PALAZZO DI GIUSTIZIA and PALAZZO DEL PODESTA’ (today used as private residences) 

Palazzo del Podestà - Pic. by Carlotta Santelli

Palazzo del Podestà – Pic. by Carlotta Santelli

In piazza della Libertà, the Medieval square of Magliano, next to Saint Martin’s Church, we can find the Palazzo del Jusdicente, the clock tower and Palazzo del Podestà, all built around 1420-25.

The Palazzo del Podestà is noteworthy especially because of its beautiful facade with coats of arms of the Podestà and Captains of the People who had their administrative offices here.

The tank in the middle of the square is a recent addition: it is the remake of a tank from 1892, demolished when drinking water arrived in Magliano.

SAN MARTIN’S CHURCH

This church, featuring some Romanic shapes, was built around 1000, and partly in the 15th Century. The facade, built with travertine ashlars, is embellished by an ornate portal, with two dragons in its hinges, one of which is ridden by a human figure. In the upper section, a mullioned window with a capital-less column. Inside, we can find frescoes from the Senese school from the 15th Century. According to Maurizio Santi in his book “Monaci e cavalieri nel grossetano” (“Monks and knights in the Grosseto region”), the church might have been a Domus of the Knights Templar with an annexed convent. 

San Martino - la chiesa/the Church

San Martino – la chiesa/the Church

PORTA NUOVA is the most beautiful door in Magliano, with its bracketed arches, great gutters, and in the inner vaults, we can see traces of a faded fresco representing the Madonna.

Carrying on from Porta Nuova towards the left, you will reach Porta San Giovanni and you will see the entrance to the walkway along the walls. I believe it is essential to enter and walk even a short while around the walkway in order to admire the Grosseto Maremma in all its beauty.

Panorama dalle mura / From the walls in Magliano

Panorama dalle mura / From the walls in Magliano

Italian version by VITTORIANO BACCETTI