fort was built on the orders of Ferdinando I in order to defend both the
city and his Palazzo Pitti residence. It was designed by the architect
Buontalenti, who was also responsible for the Palazzetto residence, the
essential elegance of which justifies its being considered a villa. The
Grand Duke lived there for some time during 1600 while the plague epidemic
was afflicting Firenze. From the walls of the fort there is a broad sweeping
view of Firenze and the hills to the south, and there is no other point
so close to the city which has such an extensive view.
Until 1951 access to the fort was prohibited, but after extensive restoration
work it was opened to the public both as a site of tourist interest and
as a venue for special art exhibitions. Its name was originally Forte
di Santa Maria, but the Florentines preferred to call it Forte Belvedere.
The fort has the rare distinction of never having been attacked or having
had to fire a shot in anger. There was a period when a cannon shot was
fired every day at twelve noon, which came to be regarded by the Florentines
as "il cannone delle pastasciutte" … the pasta-time cannon!
Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Jeremy Carden