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The Palazzo Ducale of Massa

Massa, Palazzo Ducale
Massa, Palazzo Ducale

The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) of Massa was begun by Alberico I Cybo Malaspina in 1567 but did not take definitive shape until the eighteenth century, under the direction of Teresa Pamphili and the work of architects Giovan Francesco and Alessandro Bergamini. When Napoleon added the Duchy of Massa and Carrara to the possessions of his sister Élisa in 1806, the princess decided to use the palazzo as her residence and for her court. The work of creating the royal apartment, the rooms for the ladies and the courtiers, the grand salon of the officers and all of the service rooms was directed by Paolo Bargigli and later Giovanni Lazzarini.

The façade, which is characterized by a potent contrast between the red of the plaster and the white of the stucco and marble decorations, was regularized by the addition of a fictive window. Inside, in the courtyard, a marble monumental stair leads to the Salone degli Svizzeri (the Salon of the Swiss), embellished with elegant decorative motifs, and the charming Salone degli Specchi (Salon of Mirrors). From the courtyard one also accesses the Nymphaeum, located between the Ducal Library and the Royal Stage. The rich Baroque decoration, which revolves around the illustration of the deeds of the Cybo family, is in perfect harmony with the surrounding structures. The eighteenth–century loggia united with the courtyard is enlivened by a thick screen of raised columns, as if an artificial forest, and a double ramp stair. In order to put greater emphasis on the new symbol of power, Élisa wanted – in Massa as she had already done in Lucca – to create a large piazza in front of the palazzo. And so, in 1807 work began on the Piazza Aranci, the creation of which entailed the demolition of the historical church of San Pietro.

The Palazzo currently hosts a conference centre and exhibition spaces, and is the seat of the Province and of the Prefecture–Territorial Office of the Government of Massa Carrara.

Palazzo Ducale
Piazza Aranci

Entrance free of charge. Visits arranged by reservation

tel +39 0585 816111