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Forte di Belvedere

This 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

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