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Old Fortress

The idea of the Florentines was to build a fortress, mainly as a defence against the sea and the pirate raids, but not only. The transformation of this outpost was to enter into the Florentine Signoria (governing body) as a symbol of authority. The Fortress is the Memory of the city with its evolution from a wee fishing village into a real full blown city. At the beginning of the XVI century the task of considering this military structure as a defensive point also for the docks, was given to a chap called Giuliano da San Gallo.

And so it came about that all the existing defensive structures were integrated: the “ Torre Quadrata di Matilde” (Matilda’s Square Tower) from the XI century, the “Torre Pisana” (Pisan Tower) from 1241 and the “Quadratura dei Pisani” (four sided walled stronghold) built by the Pisans in 1392. Around the nucleus three bastions were erected: The Canaviglia, (a distortion of the family name Cavaniglia), the Ampolletta (this tower housed an hourglass whose name derives from the word ampoule meaning glass container) and the Capitana (now in ruins as it was the tower that held the gunpowder) all enclosing the Medici family’s residence and Francis I’s small palace along with Saint Francis’s church. In the lower levels are the underground tunnels, where the artillery batteries were located. The tunnels can still be seen today: They are fine examples of soundproofing architecture, made up of layers of reeds and mortar. Destroyed by the American bombings of WW2, right up and till the 1960s and 1970s the fortress was still hosting the homeless Livornese people, who had been bombed out during WW2.