Maremma Tuscany had different prehistoric, Etruscan and Roman settlements that left important historical and artistic sites scattered throughout the territory. In Etruscan and Roman times, Maremma was known for its farms, which were drained by subterranean canals. In particular, the towns of Populonia, Cosa and Tarquinii were important economic centers, and different ports handled Etruria’s foreign trade. Towards the end of the Roman Empire, the region declined rapidly. Drainage was neglected and malaria became widespread.
In the early Middle Ages, Maremma was home to one of the most important noble families of central Italy: the Aldobrandeschi counts, who built many of the fortresses that today dominate most cities in southern Tuscany. And even a “Maremma” pope was elected in 1073, when Ildebrando di Soana became Gregory VII.
Throughout the Spanish and Sienese rule, large swamps and coastal marshes covered the fertile lands of Maremma, where many died of malaria. Different literature pieces testify the depth of the problems in the area, including Dante Alighieri’s 13th canto of “Inferno” in The Divine Comedy.
Maremma was eventually used only as a winter grazing ground for herds from the Apennines, despite reclamation efforts by the grand dukes of Tuscany in the 18th and early 19th centuries and despite the presence of brigands who raged on horseback.
In the 1930s, Mussolini’s government began a structured reclamation and drainage of the swamps began, a process that culminated later in 1951 when the Maremma Land Reform Agency definitively changed the face of the territory with new roads, farms and rural service centers.
Today, Maremma Tuscany’s economy is largely based on agriculture and tourism. The main plantations include cereals, fruit orchards, olive groves and vineyards. The area is also rich in minerals, such as pyrite, iron, mercury and antimon. Fishing still represents one of the local traditional activities along the coast. Maremma is a fantastic destination for different types of tourists, such as nature, sports, wine and beach lovers.
The name “Maremma”: origins and uses
For many scholars, the name Maremma derives from the Latin word maritima, meaning “coastal region”. Others believe that it comes from the Castilian Spanish word of marisma, which means “swamp”.
You might have heard this name associated with a series of animals. In fact, the Maremma has given rise to, or given its name to, several breeds of animals. These include the Maremmano working horse used by butteri; the Maremmana breed of large grey cattle; the Maremmano breed of shepherd’s guard-dog; and the Macchiaiola Maremmana breed of small pig.
Principe Corsini Magazine
All photos from tuttatoscana.net