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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 3 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 build 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.
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