• Rocca degli Alberti
  • Monterotondo Marittimo
  • Italy
  • Tuscany
  • Provincia di Grosseto
  • Monterotondo Marittimo


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  • 1200 AD - 2000 AD


    • The excavation inside the Rocca degli Alberti concentrated on two areas of the complex: one inside the standing building (area 1000), the other outside the latter comprising the entire flat summit on which the fortification stands. In area 1000, inside the large building, the stratigraphy revealed levels and structures relating to four distinct phases. The excavation uncovered a stratigraphic sequence relating to a period pre-dating the construction of the large building (period I). Only a few of these levels were investigated relating to very organic layers comprising crumbly soil, food remains and plain wares. These levels, all cut by the foundation trenches of the outer walls of the building, were deposited before the latter’s construction and that of the granary which occupies its central space. The pottery places these layers within the 11th-beginning of the 12th century. The interpretation of a third structure situated north of the large building is less certain. Cut by the wall’s foundation, it was constituted by a platform of stones and alignment of stones parallel to the north wall of the large building. On the same alignment as these structures there was a cut which occupied the north corner of the building and within which a pit had been constructed which seems to have been used as a midden. Contemporarily with the palace (period II) a structure was built inside it, in its central internal space. It was square with a rectangular floor in the centre of which was an aperture, interpretable as the opening to a storage facility for dry goods or water. The floor and the opening showed no signs of wear and the internal walls do not seem to have been faced except for the upper part of the structure which was covered with mortar. The excavation showed that whatever the original function of this feature, in its abandonment phase it was used as a midden for the remains of the meals eaten by those in residence at the time. Materials relating to life in the palace date to the 13th-14th centuries. The levels of reuse overlying the 14th century stratigraphy were excavated (Period III), which date to the 17th-18th centuries. The collapses of the medieval walls were not found, probably due to the fact that the material was removed over time and reused in the construction of the houses in the “borgo”. Lastly, several cuts and levelling interventions undertaken on the palace, contemporary with its restoration, date to last century (Period IV). In the area outside the palace (area 2000), between the latter and the present enclosure wall which divides the “borgo” of Monterotondo from the inner areas of the fortification and the first jump in height, a stretch of wall came to light. This surrounded the upper part of the fortification and was abutted by a series of smaller walls which formed rooms inside the fortification itself. It can be suggested that when the palace in its present form was built, perhaps dating to the 13th century, a perimeter wall surrounding the upper part of the castle was also constructed.
    • Excavation inside the Rocca degli Alberti is part of the University of Siena’s long running research programme studying settlement dynamics in the territory of the Colline Metallifere (metal ore bearing hills). The programme also includes field survey, excavation of fortified settlements and the mapping of mining areas. Until the present, the territory where Monterotondo Marittimo stands, now characterized by extensive wooded areas, was distinguished by intense mining of mineral deposits. Particularly in the Middle Ages the territory was strongly conditioned by the extraction of coinable metals (copper and silver) which led to the birth of a network of fortified settlements. The latter formed the bases from which the aristocracy, church and citizens controlled the metal producing processes. Between 2005 and 2008 excavations were undertaken in two areas within the monumental complex known as the Rocca degli Alberti. This involved two separate parts of the complex: the first inside the large building whose standing walls are visible and a second area outside this building which included the entire plateau on which the castle stands. Two distinct excavation strategies were used. In fact, if for the building the aim was to get straight to the stratigraphy relating to its occupation phases and any evidence of pre-existing settlement in the same area, the aim for the exterior was to carry out an open area excavation of the rest of the site in order to comprehend the development and changes occurring within the settlement over the centuries.
    • The fifth excavation campaign on the Rocca degli Alberti concentrated on continuing the exploration of the three areas begun in 2005: inside the palace (area 1000), outside the palace to the east (area 2000) and in area 3000 which extends to the south of areas 1000 and 2000, partially investigated in 2007. The three areas initially presented a stratigraphy characterised by deposits of differing dates and this influenced the excavation strategy. In fact, inside the palace layers were already visible which preceded the construction of the palace itself. They presumably related to the abandonment of the external area pertinent to a curtain wall, of which a section was preserved both inside an outside of area 1000, datable to between the 11th-10th century. Area 200, outside the palace also presented layers preceding the foundations of the curtain wall coeval with the great palace and relating to occupation of the settlement enclosed by the walls identified in both areas. In area 3000 the deposit was constituted by a thick rubble layer, resulting from the accumulation of rubble from the buildings around the rocca which used this abandoned area as a dump following the 1960 earthquake. This stratigraphy had been partially investigated in 2007 when, close to the palace, a trench was opened using a mechanical digger. Following observation of the section the decision was taken to open the entire area situated to the south of areas 1000 and 2000, using the digger to remove the 20th century rubble and thus proceed with the stratigraphic excavation of the deposit preserved below the modern dump. At the end of the 2009 campaign exploration of areas 1000 and 2000 was completed, the bed-rock being reached across the entire surface. Important craft-working activities dating to the earliest occupation phase were investigated, for example a mortar mixer. As regards area 3000, the modern dump was completely removed and excavation of the medieval deposits began. To date traces of a large structure for the conservation of cereals have been found. This was probably linked to the oven for toasting cereals which was excavated in area 2000 in previous campaigns. Due to the importance of the finds it was decided, in agreement with the local authorities, to continue the excavation for another season in order to complete the excavation of a site which has been revealed to be one of the most important medieval settlements of the entire district.


    • Jacopo Bruttini, Francesca Grassi. 2010. Monterotondo M.mo: dall’insediamento altomedievale alla Rocca degli Alberti (IX-XIV secolo). FOLD&R Italy: 180.


    • M. Belli, J. Bruttini, 2007, Rocca degli Alberti (Monterotondo M.mo, Gr), Notiziario della Soprintendenza Archeologica della Toscana: 489-492.
    • J. Bruttini, 2008, Rocca degli Alberti (Monterotondo M.mo, Gr), in Notiziario della Soprintendenza Archeologica della Toscana.