The History of Massarella

Le colline massigianeMassarella is nestled amidst the Cerbaie, the low hillsides that dominate the Padule, a rare example of wetlands that, in addition to being a natural habitat for aquatic plants and flowers that exist nowhere else in the world, also serve as nesting grounds very rare bird species.

It is precisely from these Padule that the inhabitants of Massarella earned their livelihood: hunting, fishing, and gathering marsh grasses were their primary activities.

I CavallaiesiThe first official document that refers to Massarella, then known as Massa Piscatoria, is dated February 25, 998 and is an Imperial Decree issued by Otto III, by virtue of which this historic Parish was included among the possessions of Antonino, the Bishop of Pistoia. Over the course of centuries, Massa Piscatoria passed from dominion to dominion, from the Counts Cadolingi to the Bishop of Lucca. It was a free rural town, capable of self-government, but required protection during the war between the Guelphs and Ghibellines that raged in the zone, obliging it to follow the example of other small towns. As a result, on September 6, 1280, Massa Piscatoria pledged allegiance to Fucecchio. However, it was not until September 30, 1309 that it became an integral part of the town. In 1320, it was attacked by Castruccio Castracani, the lord of Lucca, who destroyed the Castelletto – or small castle. A long period of abandonment and desolation then followed, during which the zone was gradually deserted.

Only around the year 1500, with the arrival of the Lampaggi Family, originally from Lampaggio, a town in the Montalbano district, and under the auspices of the Rospigliosi Princes, were the ruins of the old Castelletto rebuilt.

La Pieve a fine '800This breathed life back into the old town and working activities once again thrived.

Over the following centuries, the life of this hamlet was closely linked to that of the City of Fucecchio.

In 1998 the town celebrated the Millennium of the Parish through numerous public manifestations and the publication of 2 books: one, entitled “Gente del Padule” (People of the Padule), is a collection of photographs, while the other, “I mille anni di Massarella” (One Thousand Years of Massarella) is an historic account.

The Parish of Massarella is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and over the course of time the church has been embellished by 3 stupendous and stately frescoes by the artist Romano Stefanelli (a student of Annigoni). The works portray the Nativity, the Death, and the Resurrection of Christ.

Il PaduleThe Massarella Community, with the intention of keeping their traditions alive, promotes many initiatives and events, including the Sagra della Zuppa – now in its 40th edition, the Palio dei Barchini – a competition of typical vessels used on the marshes that is inaugurated the evening before with a solemn procession of the Madonna in Barca, when a statue of the Virgin is transported along the waterways in boats and then to the church. Massarella also participates in the Palio of the Contrade in the City of Fucecchio.