Rocca of Vicopisano
Left: The core of the fortification.
Right: The keep.
Coming from Florence and taking the speedway that connect the cities
of Florence-Pisa-Leghorn (FI-PI-LI) choose the exit "Pontedera-Ponsacco" and
then follow the road SS67 towards Fornacette, following the indications
Vicopisano is about 3 km from this town. You can also travel on the motorway
A11, exit at 'Altopascio' and following the indications leading to Bientina
first and Vicopisano then.
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Probably there were an Etruscan settlement on
the spot where the town of Vicopisano rises our days. Undoubtedly this
area went through a period of great growth during the 10th century, and
the former 'vicus' (that in ancient Latin means 'undefended place') changed
into 'castellus', an inhabited area sheltered by fortifications and center
of various activities. In the beginning the town was subjected to the Episcopal
authority of Pisa. During the 12th century Vicopisano became an important
stronghold of the military defensive organization of the Republic of Pisa.
In 1406 the town fell under Florentines rule. Due to its strategic location,
Vicopisano was strongly fortified by the Florentines as well, who charged
the great architect Filippo Brunelleschi with its taste. As from then,
the town became a possession of the domination of Florence, that was aware
of its importance and let it become the seat of a vicariate. Afterwards,
the changing of the political conditions as well as the removal of the
boundary-walls from the river Arno during the 16th century, let Vicopisano
slowly change into an agricultural center.
| A paint reproducing Vicopisano in the 15th century with the
river Arno still flowing under its walls.
Fortunately, there still are well preserved testimonies of such important
past in and about the town, that deserve be visited carefully, especially
during the 'Medieval Festival' which take places in summer. Inside the
town, a series of lanes thus arousing fine and evocative sights that one
may discover simply going for a walk. Besides this minor beauties, the
town offers proper rarities to its visitors, such as the mighty fortified
complex of the Rocca, crowning the hill on which the town lies, circuit-walls
and towers of the XV° century.
|The town walls.
The Rocca is linked by a massive wale with the 'Brunelleschi
tower' and the town walls that is placed at its foot. This kind of fortification
is a rare and one of the best examples of military architecture in the
Tuscany of the 1400th. Other towers belonging to various ages still rising
all along the town streets, the most famous of those is the 'Four gate
tower'. The fortress is a private property open to the public and
has been recently restored.