The Scarlino castle was erected as a defence mechanism against invaders from the sea. It was first controlled by the town of Pisa, before the Aldobrandeschi and the Appiani families took it over in the 15th century. This part of Tuscany is full of history, characterised by scarce roads and picturesque hills overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea and the areas of Puntone di Scarlino and Portiglioni. It tells the story of coastal lakes and the migration of people. It also serves as a link between the sea and the land, or the outside world and the Maremma area of Tuscany. (video with English subtitles)
The sea lapping the shores of Scarlino and the ancient Roman port bordering the coastal lake have witnessed trade being conducted across the region throughout most of history. This is now on display at the museum of Portus Scabris (Maps), where the amphoras remind visitors of the voyages of ancient sailors.
But history continues, away from the reeds and the marshes, which were reclaimed between the 19th and 20th century by draining the Pecora river, bringing us back to the hill where everything began. To this day, the town still stands as a lookout post from the Middle Ages, brought fully back to life by the work of archaeologists, including Riccardo Francovich, a great scholar who gave his name to the documentation centre that was built 30 years ago as an account of his own work. Another museum in Scarlino showcases the findings from the Bronze Age onwards, including pottery attesting to an age of trade and a real glimmering treasure of gold florin coins from the Duchies of Venice, Milan and Hungary. The treasure of Scarlino was found in 1983 inside the castle (also called Rocca Pisana), in a niche in the Pieve di Santa Maria rural church, during archaeological excavations. The coins had been put away inside a piece of glazed terracotta and make up a very large amount of gold gathered in the 15th century, as numismatics reveals.
Looking at this landscape through the lens of history allows us to understand that the idea of a wild, remote, abandoned and bitter Maremma originated towards the end of the Middle Ages, when the early modern period began. Up until that moment, this land – from the Etruscan Age through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance – was part of a much broader social, political and economic context. The idea of the Maremma amara (bitter swampland) still hadn’t formed in popular tradition.
Francovich, R. (ed.), (1985) Scarlino. 1: storia e territorio. Firenze: All’insegna del giglio
Gambogi, P. (ed.) (2010). Il Museo Archeologico del Portus Scabris. Leaflet obtained in Museo Archeologico del Portus Scabris. Soprintendenza per il beni archeologici della Toscana – Comune di Scarlino
Semplici, A. (2012) La Maremma dei Musei. Viaggio emozionale nell’arte, la storia, la natura, le tradizioni del territorio grossetano. Arcidosso (Gr): Edizioni Effigi
Semplici, A. (2015). I Musei di Scarlino. Arcidosso (Gr): Edizioni Effigi
Tondo, L., (1988) Scarlino. 2: il tesoro. Firenze: All’insegna del giglio