History farm holidays in Massa Marittima

Antico Convento di Montepozzali

The Convent of Monte Pozzali, historically, was owned by the nearby Castle of Monte Bozaio (now called Castle Monte Pozzali).
The family Pannocchieschi (called Nello), whose assets were tied to the local mining activity, owned the castle and surrounding lands. History remembers him as marrying Pia de’ Tolomei, who was mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy among those who suffered a violent death:

“ Ricorditi di me, che son la Pia;
Siena mi fé, disfecemi Maremma:
salsi colui che ‘nnanellata pria
disposando m’avea con la sua gemma”

Divine Comedy Purgatory: cantica 5 – verse 130-133


According to legend, Pia, after no longer being desired by her husband, was locked up in the stone castle found on a hill not far from Monte Pozzali. She died in the fortress, and her lifeless body was found in the year 1289 at the foot of the tower.

Her death has always been shrouded in mystery: the official version of the story is that she had committed suicide due to her overwhelming unhappiness. However, it had been thought that her husband possibly had something to do with her unfortunate fate. Still today, in the month of August, in a town in the Maremma region of Tuscany called Gavorrano the “salto della contessa” (the jump of the countess) is celebrated to remember the tragic destiny of Pia de’ Tolomei which remebers an unhappy history that unifies manypassionate love stories throughout history.
As the story unfolds, the possessions of Monte Pozzali were then confiscated by the Republic of Massa. It was only later that the old castle became a convent for Benedictine nuns.
According to recent legends, the castle was transformed into a prison; the iron bars currently visible outside the windows of the restaurant seem to confirm this notion. During the Second World War, local residents remember it as a refuge for the partisans (the damage inflicted by the bombardments are still visible on the structure’s main façade). Later, the convent served as housing for local farmers. Much of the historical information has been recorded by the priests of the Curia of Massa Marittima, as the true historical documents between 1500-1800 regarding Monte Pozzali were destroyed by a fire that ravaged the library of Massa Marittima some years ago.

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