Forte di Belvedere

Fortress in Boboli & San Miniato al Monte
Image by John Heseltine / Getty Images

Forte di Belvedere is a rambling fort designed by Bernardo Buontalenti for Grand Duke Ferdinando I at the end of the 16th century. From the massive bulwark, soldiers kept watch on four fronts – as much for internal security as to protect the Palazzo Pitti against foreign attack. Today the fort hosts summertime art exhibitions, which are well worth a peek if only to revel in the sweeping city panorama that can be had from the fort. Outside of exhibition times, the fort is closed.

To get here from Piazza de' Mozzi, turn east down Via dei Renai, past leafy Piazza Nicola Demidoff, dedicated to the 19th-century Russian philanthropist who lived nearby in Via di San Niccolò. At the end of Via dei Renai, turn right onto Via di San Niccolò; walk east to emerge at the tower marking Torre San Niccolò, all that is left of the city walls. To get an idea of what the walls were once like, walk south from Chiesa di San Niccolò Oltrarno through Porta San Miniato. The wall extends a short way to the east and for a stretch further west, up a steep hill that leads you to the fortress.