Owing to its strategic location along the ancient road
called Via Francigena, Massa was once the rest place for pilgrims
travelling from France to Rome. Upto the 11th century Massa belonged to
the Bishops of Luni. However, the most significant marks on the town were
left by two noted families the Malaspinas and Cybo Malaspinas, who ruled
Massa for three centuries from 1440.
The core of Massa is Piazza Aranci named after the orange
trees that border the square on three sides. On the remaining side there
is the impressive Duke's Palace (Palazzo Ducale, also known as the
"red palace" because of its flame red facade) which was built in
1550. Its spacious inner courtyard is of extraordinary beauty.
Malaspina Castle is
situated just a few minutes walk above the town centre. The base of the
square tower is the oldest part, which is flanked by three cylindrical
towers enclosed by an embattled curtain wall.