Rocca of Vicopisano

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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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A paint reproducing Vicopisano in the 15th century with the river Arno still flowing under its walls.
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.

The town 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 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.

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