Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art



Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano


Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano


Domenico Ghirlandaio


Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli


masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of saint francis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello


piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti



sandro botticelli

sano di pietro


simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio



The Massa Marittima Mural, detail (with phallus on leash), Unknown Artist, Fonte dell’Abbondanza, Massa Marittima, fresco, 1276-1300

Travel guide for Tuscany

The Tree of Fertility in Massa Marittima, Fonte dell'Abbondanza (1265)


The Tree of Fertility the renowned and unique medieval fresco found on the large wall of the Fonti dell’Abbondanza in Massa Marittima. The Albero della Fecondità is a rare example of a thirteenth century mural painting with a most unusual profane subject matter whose origins can be found in ancient fertility cults.


The presence of immense black birds hovering over the female figures and beneath the branches of the tree add a dynamic sense of movement throughout the composition. One particular bird to the left of the painting hovers above a redgarbed female figure, resting the point of its tail feather precisely on top of her head. This bird is far removed in appearance from the remaining four birds that roam
about in that it includes visible legs and feet (although it is highly conceivable thatThe qualities of the eagle remind one of the emblem of the Ghibelline political faction, prominent in Massa Marittima and throughout Italy during
the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries[1p. 6].


The imposing construction that houses the Fonti dell’Abbondanza is one of the most important monuments from medieval Massa Marittima. An epigraph on its façade shows that work was completed in 1265. In the years prior to 2000, the city structurally restored the springs and reestablished the water flow to the three large tubs located underneath the imposing gothic arches. During the restoration residue of mural decoration was found on the lower walls. The complete restoration of one of the walls led to the amazing find: hidden underneath layers of chalky concrete was the Albero della Fecondità. The tree depicts dozens of exceptionally realistic penises hang like enormous pieces of fruit. At the foot of the tree is a group of women waiting for them to fall; two of them squabble over one. A group of crows threatens to attack the “fruit”; a large eagle is a symbol of Pisa and the emblem of the Holy Roman Empire (Massa Marittima was a Ghibelline city until 1266).

  Fonti dell’Abbondanza
Fonti dell’Abbondanza

The fresco was discovered in 2000 on a wall inside the Fonte dell'Abbondanza, a public fountain in Massa Marittima, in southern Tuscany. The fresco features a tree festooned with 25 human penises and testicles, with several medieval women standing below, some reaching for the dangling 'fruit.' The fresco measures a tremendous five metres in height by six metres in width, and embellishes the left inset of three interior walls in one of Massa Marittima’s major public fountains.



The spectre of the serpent haunts the subject matter of the Mural, but because the serpent image is in such disrepair, where nothing but a mere trace outline (if that) remains, we cannot presume that it has a connection to the allegorical Christian Tree of Life as elucidated in Genesis. If there was in fact a clear image of a serpent dangling from the branches of the tree, our perception of the Mural would shift from secular to religious subject matter [1]


Literally resting its behind on the woman’s head, the Ghibelline eagle appears incongruous in both composition and subject matter, therefore, considering formal incoherencies, it would seem that a Ghibelline administration was the patron for the original fresco (comprised of female figures, the tree and its related elements, and the phalli), and a Guelf faction, around the fourth quarter of the thirteenth century, added the Ghibelline symbol to associate such morally objectionable imagery with the Ghibelline party. Considering the Guelf’s allegiance to the papacy, and the spiritual, moral, and ethical mentality this involved, it can be of no surprise that they should oppose the Mural’s subject matter. [1] pp. 19-20)

The painting of phalli occurred simultaneously with the painting of the tree, its leaves, and its cylindrical fruit-like forms, as phalli occur in fresco layers both behind and ahead of the tree branches. This gesture demonstrates an advanced two-dimensional system of perspective and a facility of fine detail rarely observed in mural works from this period.

The eagle was the traditional symbol of the Ghibelline political faction.




Mediaeval illuminations | The Roman de la Rose


Images have phallus trees have appeared in other contexts, e.g., The Massa Marittima Mural, but any attempt to find meaning of them seems to result in series of circular references to the few examples that are known. What remains probable is that the Mural’s subject matter finds its source in the Roman de la Rose. (1)
This manuscript was produced by the professional husband and wife team of Richard and Jean de Montbaston working out of their shop on the Rue Neuve Notre Dame in Paris.

When we consider the marginal illuminations from the Rose, and its embodiments of the openly sexual character La Veille as a nun, visibly taking phalli from a tree, the Rose stands as the likely source of subject matter for the Mural.
The Bibliothèque nationale de France houses a particularly strange manuscript of Guillaume de Lorris’ and Juen de Meun’s Roman de la Rose: BNF fr. 25526. It is famous for its extensive bas-de-page images, several of which are of an explicitly erotic nature. One image in particular often serves as an exemplar of strange medieval marginalia - that found on page 106v, of a nun gathering the fruit of a phallus tree.



The Phallus Tree

Nun at Phallus Tree. BNF fr. 25526, 106v
This single image is part of a series on pages 106r and 106v showing a nun and a friar engaged in erotic play. These same figures appear again on pages 111r and 111v.[3]


folio 106v, Nun at phallus tree and Nun and monk embrace


The Roman de la Rose





fol. 106r


fol. 160r.   fol. 111r   fol. 111v

Podere Santa Pia is a wonderful farmhouse, situated near the historical village of Montalcino. The house has been skilfully restored respecting the original style and features, but also offering all the modern comforts. It is situated in a very panoramic and tranquil position, reached along a 2,7 kms private road.
The central location of the holiday home allows you to visit the nearby beautiful villages Montalcino, Sant'Antimo, Pienza, S. Quirico d'Orcia and in the south Saturnia and Sorano - known for its beautiful Sasso Leopoldo. And the sea is 38km away in Marina di Grosseto.

Case Vacanze Toscana | Artist and Writer's Residency | Podere Santa Pia


Podere Santa Pia

Castiglioncello Bandini


Accona Desert or deserto di Accona
Downy Oak
Crete Senesi, near Asciano
Cipress road ner Monticchiello
Colle Val d'Elsa

Spanish Mill in Orbetello

San Bruzio


Massa Marritima

Set on a hill in the lush Tuscan countryside, Podere Santa Pia overlooks nearby medieval hilltop towns, vineyards, and olive groves, and, in the distance, the Tyrrhenian Sea with the islands of Monte Cristo and Corsica in the distance.


George Ferzoco, Book Il Murale di Massa Marittima - The Massa Marittima Mural, Centre for Tuscan Studies at the University of Leicester, and published by the Consiglio Regionale della Toscana, Firenze (English, Italiano).

Matthew Ryan Smith, Reconsidering the ‘Obscene’: The MassaMarittima Mural, Queen’s Journal of Visual & Material Culture, Issue 2, 2009 |

Roman de la Rose Digital Library || Page turner: Bibliothèque nationale de France, fr. 25526 |
The Roman de la Rose Digital Library is a joint project of the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University and the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

[1] As the Ghibelline emblem stands out-of-place both formally and thematically, it must have been frescoed at a later date by a Guelf
faction placing the patronage of the original fresco as the product of a Ghibelline administration.Source :Matthew Ryan Smith, Reconsidering the ‘Obscene’: The MassaMarittima Mural, Queen’s Journal of Visual & Material Culture, Issue 2, 2009 |
[2] , The ‘Tree of Fertility’ Mural Is Restored, But Missing Its Phallic Images,
[3] The Phallus Tree of fr. 25526 |