Medicean Fortress

Archaeological Park

The Enrico Fiumi Park, an enchanting green oasis in the heart of the city of Volterra located in the picturesque province of Pisa, is a rare jewel of beauty. Its name pays tribute to the celebrated director of the prestigious Guarnacci museum, whose invaluable contribution has enriched the cultural heritage of the region.

Nestled among the majestic Etruscan walls and embraced by the imposing presence of the Medici Fortress, this park contains within its boundaries an archaeological area of immeasurable value, a tangible testament to the ancient Etruscan civilization.

The Medici Fortress of Volterra, built on the highest point of the city, holds significant historical importance. Comprising two parts, the Old Fortress (or Cassero) and the New Fortress (or Mastio), constructed in 1342 and between 1472 and 1474 respectively, this impressive structure represents the attempt by Duke Gualtieri VI of Brienne, also known as the Duke of Athens, to stabilize the city's government during an era marked by internal conflicts among local families.

However, this lordship was short-lived, and power passed into the hands of Ottaviano Belforti. The construction of the New Fortress was commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent following the war between Volterra and Florence for control over the alum mines.

The Medici Fortress played a significant role both militarily and as a prison over the centuries. Originally designed to defend the city, it was later used to control the population and suppress any uprisings. Throughout its history, the fortress incarcerated both opponents of the Medici family and patriots during the Italian Risorgimento.

Today, the Medici Fortress serves as a medium-security state prison and is not accessible to the public, except on rare special occasions.

Its imposing presence dominates the skyline of the city and the Valdicecina region. The architecture of the structure, with its mighty defensive walls, the balcony supported by elegant hanging arches called bertesche, and the double curtain connecting the two fortresses, exudes an austere and noble image. The Mastio Tower, situated in the New Fortress, stands out for its grandeur and fame.

Within this captivating setting, the Enrico Fiumi Park, with its lush and rejuvenating atmosphere, stands as a true treasure. Surrounded by the Etruscan walls and embraced by the magnificence of the Medici Fortress, it offers an unforgettable experience to visitors who wish to immerse themselves in the millennia-old history of the city of Volterra. Furthermore, the presence of the Etruscan archaeological area within the park adds further charm, allowing enthusiasts to discover the traces of ancient civilizations that once inhabited these lands.

Created: 16 Oct 2014
Last update: 26 Jun 2023

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