|On the top of the Mount Verruca: the ruins of
The southwest point of the walls.
The fortress of the Verruca rises in the municipality of Calci,
province of Pisa, on the top of the Mount Verruca. It can be reached
following the Motorway Florence-Pisa-Leghorn (FI-PI-LI), exit toward
Cascina, continuing until Vicopisano. Here, just beside the cemetery,
starts the country road 'Strada della Verruca' that leads nearby
the bottom of the rocky spur where the fortress stands, leave the
car at the ruins of the 'Monastery of S.Michele' and continue by
foot on the path in the wood.
of S.Michele alla Verruca
The Fortress, or Rocca, della Verruca crowns a rocky spurs at the summit
of the homonym mount at a quote of 540 meters. Its origin and history
are strictly connected to those of the town of Calci, that rises at the
center of the underlying valley. Calci has always been deeply connected
to the neighbor and powerful city of Pisa and to all the wars that interested
it during the centuries.
|The path to the fortress carved in the stone.
The documented history of the settlements of this
area starts from the year 780. The territory was defended since that
time by a fortress situated in the place of the Rocca, ideal
position to control the river Arno and its lowland up to the sea. For
the fortress of the Verruca was always an impregnable stronghold for
all the armies and the political powers interested to
control this lands. Many famous and bloody battles were fought in
the 'calcesano' (the name of this territory): in 1288 between
Pisane Guelphs and the Lucchese army, in the 1328 there was the German
the 1363 the Florentine invasion, in the 1369 invasion of the troops
of Charles IV of Bohemia and in the 1375 of those of the English commander
John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuto). In the 1402 Pisa was
conquered by the Florentines and the Verruca, last rampart of
resistance, was conquered and destroyed to avoid that it will return
to be a menace. In the 1503 Pisa rose up and the war interested
again the Fortress. The Florentine troops were forced to regain the Verruca,
heart of the resistance. The fortress surrendered, after a long and bloody
siege, the 18th June of the same year, and it was the end for all the
hopes of independence of Pisa that capitulated definitely in Florentine
six years later.
|The south west bastion.
Nowadays the form of the fortress is the result of the
works of strengthening performed after this war. The Verruca is a non
homogeneous construction because of the different phases and the different
architects that took care of it. The first thing that can
be noticed is that its walls are one of the few examples of bastions
erected with melted stone instead of the characteristic bricks used
at the time for these kind of works. The cut stones are used only for
the angles and in reduced quantity. The construction was mainly performed
carelessly and without the usual respect of the proportions, with
an excessive hurry caused by the necessity of the Florentine to make
defensible this strategical site to subjugate definitively Pisa.
|A view toward the Arno Valley from the rocky spur, highest popint
of the fortification..
The main front has cylindrical shaped towers at the
two extremities, attributed at the architect Luca del Caprina, of the
school of the master mason Francione. The main and only gate is opened
at the extreme left of this front. The bastion of northwest, the worse
performed, is instead attributed at Antonio da Sangallo. The most
anomalous part is the west angle: it has a polygonal extremity with a
scarped wall on the northern side only. In the inner ward come out a
crag of stone and a quadrangular shaped palace in state of advanced degrade.
It was the ancient core of the fortification and was probably
destined in part as chapel. All along the walled circuit are still visible
many gun and loop holes.
The low quality of the construction and the centuries
of abandonment are the cause of the disastrous condition in which the
fortress stands today, invaded by the vegetation and at risk of ulterior
structural collapse, but the lovely view on the whole Arno river valley
that is possible to have from this height is really unique!