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fortifications

Stronghold of Forte dei Marmi


typology: Forte
Area: Versilia
District/Locality: Forte dei Marmi
Foundation: 1785-1788

Situated on the coast in the centre of Versilia, Forte dei Marmi was founded by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo at the end of the eighteenth century with two functions, of customs and of defence. As its name suggests, its history is older and linked with the Medicean policy of exploitation of the territory's rich marble deposits. Since 1513, when pope Leo X assigned the area corresponding to the Capitanato of Pietrasanta to Florence, the quarries of Seravezza became the centre of a new economy in Versilia.
As a sign of this the pope imposed on Michelangelo, when he was working on the façade of S. Lorenzo in Florence, the use of marble from the new deposits instead of that from Carrara, at the same time fitting these out with the necessary structures for production.
During the seventeenth century, as the port of Motrone was too far away, the area of Forte dei Marmi became a warehouse for the stone from the quarries that was brought down to the coast along the new road from Querceta. The few inhabitants of this region were significantly called "magazzenesi", at least until the Lorena dynasty built the fort.
State of preservation

The fort now accommodates the Museo della Satira e della Caricatura and the Post Office.
Historycal news

Since the Middle Ages the defence of the Versilia coast where now the towns of Pietrasanta, Forte dei Marmi and Seravezza lie, was a priority for the governments of Lucca, Pisa and Florence alike, intent as they were in developing their commerce by land and by sea.
Under the control of the Medici family first and the Lorena later, the coastal area developed rapidly with the construction of a road network and towns as well as drainage works and the fortification of its ports. Pietro Leopoldo carried out a social and economic reform of his State after the long period of stagnation under the last Medicis.
The Grand Duke personally visited the Versilia region several times and recognised that it was necessary to build a fort precisely where today Forte dei Marmi stands, between the tower of Cinquale and that of Motrone.
In 1785 the Grand Duke wrote that the fort should "defend the coast as well as provide barracks for the soldiers". Construction work began and in 1788 the fort had its first keeper, lieutenant Niccola Leonetti. In 1794 the soldiers stationed there had to ward off an enemy ship passing in front of the marble wharfs.
Timetables

The fort is public property and open to visitors .
Roads

By car:
From the A12 motorway, exit Versilia: Turn right and continue until the third traffic lights; here you turn left until and after about 1 ½ km you reach Piazza Garibaldi where the Fort built by Grand Duke Leopoldo I stands.
From Via Aurelia: Drive up to Querceta and when you reach the traffic lights at the crossroads with Via Federigi proceed towards the sea. After about 5 km you should reach Piazza Garibaldi at the centre of Forte dei Marmi where you will find the Fort of Leopoldo I.
For those travelling along the coast road: reach the wharf of Forte dei Marmi and then turn inland: after about 100 m you arrive in Piazza Garibaldi.

By public transport: Either Clap and Lazzi buses or take the Versilia shuttle.
Train: alight at Querceta station.
Bibliography

- Giannelli G., La Bibbia di Forte dei Marmi, Versilia Oggi
- Botti E. (a cura di), Saluti dalla Versilia... nelle cartoline d'epoca (1900-1940), Monte Altissimo
- Comune di Forte dei Marmi, Il Forte dei Marmi, Mostra storico Documentaria, Luglio-Settembre 1997

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