Florence Fortezza da Basso
da Basso, or fortress of San Giovanni Battista, today the main Florentine
exhibition venue, has a long history, which began after the experience of the
siege of 1529.
At the time, Duke Alessandro de’ Medici commissioned to the artists and architects Pier Francesco da Viterbo and Antonio da Sangallo the building of a fortress, in the event that such an event could recur. The works, for what was initially called Castello Alessandria, began in 1533 and ended in 1537, a demanding enterprise, both for the manpower and financially.
It was built as a pentagonal-shaped
structure with thick brick walls enclosing an area of 10 hectares.
Originally, it was connected to the city walls, but they were demolished in the period of Firenze Capitale, to give space to the ring road avenues; thus a stand-alone structure was created, which has remained mostly unchanged since then.
At that time, the Fortezza Garden was also created, with a large basin to form a real pond, known among the Florentines as the "swan fountain", as a colony of royal swans resided there.
around the fountain basin, in December 2019, was installed the longest ice skating rink in Europe - 300 meters
long - open during the Christmas holidays. An initiative that, like the great
exhibitions, conferences and fashion shows, has managed to attract a large
number of people out of the city center.
Inside, the Fortezza da Basso holds various structures, including the Canaviglia Pavilion, often used for conferences and concerts; and the Spadolini Pavilion, that with its 25 thousand square meters of surface arranged on 3 floors, houses the major fair events of the city.
The most important events hosted by the Fortezza da Basso include Pitti Immagine, the Tattoo Convention and the International Craft Exhibition.
During the summer, the Fortezza Garden come alive thanks to the Off Bar, a kiosk that offers shows, music events and cinema; that has become one of the favorite meeting places for the young Florentines.
Let's not forget that inside the Fortrezza there are also the laboratories of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, a point of reference in the field of Italian and international restoration. Although many people might be more familiar with the museum located in Via degli Alfani, do not be fooled, it is here where the magic happens.
It may not be as charming as the basilica of Santa Maria Del Fiore or Ponte Vecchio, but the Fortezza da Basso remains one of the neuralgic points of Florence; a lively space, important showcase for the world of fashion and craftsmanship, which has something new to offer in every season.