On the western slopes of the Apuan Alps, about 5 km from the sea, lies the town of Massa. On its summit stands the fifteenth century Malaspina Castle, which dominates the surrounding plain. Its origins date to the pre-Roman era and it is mentioned in the tabula Peuntingeriana, which describes the routes of the time; it seems that the area was a stopping point for travelers along the consular road of Via Aemilia Scauri, which led from Pisa to Luni.
Under the rule of Elisa Baciocchi, Duchess of Massa and Marchioness of Carrara from 1806, the area was equipped with an efficient road network. In 1809, the Via Friedland was inaugurated, going from Massa and Carrara through the mountains to Sarzana; in 1812, a new postal road connecting Lucca and Pietrasanta was completed. Under Elisa's rule, the city underwent an urban transformation with the restructuring of the Palazzo Ducale, the construction of the adjacent Piazza degli Aranci, and the demolition of the Church of San Pietro.
The city of Massa and its population suffered severe damage during the Second World War, due to its being positioned on the Gothic Line.
Today tourism, together with the numerous large and small industries, makes up the main wealth of an area that has managed to coexist in harmonic balance with its marvelous environmental resources.
The proposed Napoleonic itinerary goes through the city centre.