Monuments of Massarosa

Grotte di Mommio, Pieve a Elici, Buche di Nerone, Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo di Corsanico ...

The pieve of Saints Ambrogio and Pantaleone a Pieve a Elici
This pieve is not far from Massarosa.
It was built in the 8th century in the form of a basilica and its apse was added in the 12th century.
In the 13th century the building underwent substantial changes which altered its look, bringing it closer to the Romanesque style.
The three-naved interior has a wall fresco by an artist thought to be of the Giotto School, depicting the Madonna col Bambino.
The presbytery is embellished with a marble polyptych representing the Madonna con i Santi Pantaleone e Giovanni Battista, of the 15th century.
A ciborium and a holy-water stoup of marble, attributed to Lorenzo Stagi, are also preserved here. On the outside of the church, in the rectory courtyard, there is a Romanesque baptismal fountain for immersion (12th -13th century).

Near Massarosa, at Corsanico (the place name seems to be testimony to an ancient Saracen settlement), rises the beautiful church of San Michele, founded in the 12th century, and restructured the 19th. The church, with its baptismal font and same precious frescoes by Marracci, is famous for its monumental organ built in 1602 by the Venetian Vincenzo Colonna, still functioning perfectly today.
This outlying ward of the Commune of Massarosa deserves a visit not only for its splendid natural qualities but also for its important Roman ruins.
On the slopes of Mount Aquilata, in a panoramic position, we find the vast Roman villa of the Imperial age, dating from the middle of the 2nd century A.D..
The complex operated as a pars rustica, a farm, carrying out economic enterprises, as well as a pars urbana, that which was reserved as a patrician residence.
Some impressive wall structures of the villa, particularly the raised part, still remain, and some shreds of floor mosaic: the most beautiful and most extensive, shows mythological marine motifs with hippogryphs (griffin-like creature with the body of a horse) and festoons.
Not far away, above the villa, are the monumental remains of the public baths, also dated to the 2nd century A.D., and which were vulgarly called "Nero's baths".
These could be the baths called fossae papirianae in the Tabula Peutingeriana, a detailed Italian geographical map from the Medieval.
The huge central area could be what is called the calidarium, from which arrived the hot water, if the reading of the suspensurae is correct: that is, a sort of support for a raised flooring under which the water pipes passed. An adjoining reception room opens onto the frigidarium, while not far away are the remains of the nymphaeum. The cisterns of the baths were probably located near the parish of San Lorenzo.

@ Pier Luca Mori 2023

Camaiore, Lucca (Italy)