Tuscan country

by Samuele Sodini

Thermal bath

Massaciuccoli lake

Massaciuccoli, the Roman archaeological findings and the church of San Lorenzo.
According to the archaeological findings from the time of the Roman Empire, a large “pagus” and a “mansio” must have been situated here.
The most interesting historical buildings in Massaciuccoli are the villas and baths, which were built perhaps in the time of the Emperor Trajan.
The villa, which was discovered in 1932, has two beautiful mosaic floors: the larger depicts a scene with four sea monsters, two horses and two dolphin around a central opening from which water gushed and above which there was a bronze statue (now in Florence).
Immersed in a dense olive grove, the remains of the baths include a “calidarium” with two baths, a “sudarium” with three rows of seats covered whit white marble, the cells used as changing rooms, and the flooring in some of the adjoining rooms.
Because of the grandeur of the building, it is unlikely that the baths were part of a private villa, but rather public baths built in a charming holiday locality.
The Church of San Lorenzo is situated in a beautiful panoramic position immediatly above the baths. It certainly existed in the 9th century, but in the 5th century it may have been a small oratory. The plagues of the 1300s, the lake taht had become a marshland, and malaria led to the depopulation of the area and the decline of Massaciuccoli. As a consequence, the church was reduced to one nave:
the aisle on the left became the priest’s house.
Its current layout is a result of renovation and enlargement carried out in 1870 and 1909.

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