This tour visits one of the most important examples of Tuscan military architecture from the early sixteenth century. The elegant structure guarded the old harbor and today stands as gatekeeper the memory of Livorno. From the perspective of the Medici family, who selected it to be their watchful eye over the Mediterranean, we will show you its military secrets, prisons, hidden tunnels, and imposing batteries.
Expanded from 1519 by Medici command, the fortress was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, one of the most important military architects of the Renaissance, remembered as among those who “…taught the construction of fortresses to all Europe.” Intended to protect the ancient fortified village of Livorno and its harbor, the construction of Old Fortress was at times supervised by Michelangelo, served as the cardinal point of orientation for the 1577 reconstruction plans for the city, and most likely became the model for the city’s coat of arms. This fortified island features an 11th century tower and a 14th century medieval stronghold known as “la Quadratura dei pisani” which were integrated into the fortress of Sangallo.
But the fortress’s historical roots continue further back in time; it’s underground caverns contain traces of late bronze era habitation (1200 B.C.E.). The Old Fortress also became a stage upon which Medici family drama, with all its intrigues and mysteries, played out. From the fortress walls the Medic surveyed the horizon, striving to expanding the influence of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from the Mediterranean to the faraway Americas. We will visits its ramparts, which for five centuries have jutted into the sea and we will scale the 13th century tower, popularly known as Mastio of Mathilde, from one may gaze across most of the Tuscan Archipelago from the coast of the Gulf of La Spezia to the Isle of Elba. For centuries the fortress welcomed the popes and sovereigns who visited the glorious Grand duchy with cannon salute, and today it’s red brick immensity welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists who disembark from across the world.
ength: approximately 1 hour*
Cost: 120 €
* Indicates the duration of a standard tour, which can be shortened or lengthened according to your wishes and compatibility with the type of excursion.