Montemerano, a medieval town at the heart of Maremma
Montemerano is a hamlet in the municipality of Manciano, in the province of Grosseto. Considered one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, it rises on a hill overlooking the Tuscan countryside. It was founded in the Middle Ages: the Aldobrandeschi family built its city walls in the 13th century, before the Counts Baschi took control. In the 1400s, it was conquered by Siena; in the following century, it became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Piazza Castello, the center and symbol of the town, was originally a place-of-arms. Now the nearby Church of Saint George is, without a doubt, the most popular local destination. Built in the 14th century by the Braschi family, it features wonderful frescoes from the 15th-17th centuries, including a polyptych from the 1400s by Sano Di Pietro, “The Madonna with Child and Saints”. The altarpieces are also particularly precious: the “Madonna of the Gattaiola” (Virgin Mary of the Cat Flap), for example, dates back to the 1450s and was painted by the local artist known as the Master from Montemerano.
The painting represents the annunciation, and although an angel has gone missing, it is famous for its late-gothic style with renaissance touches – as well as for a particular curiosity: a priest once had it altered so it could be used as a door. Indeed, the top was clearly “cut” where a cusp must have been; and a hole was made in the lower part of the painting, probably to allow cats through as they came in and out of the sacristy to chase away mice.
Montemerano, hamlet of Manciano (Grosseto), Tuscany