Looming over the city, this fortress is a symbol of when Siena’s independence ended in the 16th century. Today, it’s a public space for exercise and entertainment.
Siena’s political independence came to an end with the imposition of Florentine power in 1554, an event symbolized by the huge Fortezza Medicea, which stands menacingly over the city. When Duke Cosimo, of the Medici house, built the fortress between 1561 and 1563, it was the end of an era for the city, which had finally succumbed to an old enemy. Siena’s residents have come to whole-heartedly accept the Fortezza Medicea and use it for their own purposes. Visit Fortezza Medicea today for a public park, exhibition space and more.
Walk up the hill to the fortress, which was placed in a strategic location for observing unrest going on in the streets below. Before entering, notice the Medici coat of arms emblazoned on the corner, announcing to the people the new power in the region. Enter through the northeast entrance, which faces Florence, and walk between the astoundingly wide walls.
Once inside, stop at the wine shop to taste and buy your selections from more than 1,500 types of wine from the region and surrounding vineyards. Relax in the small restaurant just inside the gate.
On Wednesdays, browse through the goods offered in the weekly market. Check out the arts schedule or set off along the path that follows the ring of the walls. Bring a pair of sneakers to join the exercisers or just stroll slowly to appreciate the view.
The Fortezza Medicea is located in the San Prospero neighborhood northeast of Siena’s Historical Center, a few steps from the Giardini La Lizza. Walk from the Piazza del Campo or the Duomo in about 15 minutes. The train station is an 11-minute bus ride, 25-minute walk or 8-minute drive away. Several bus lines travel past the fortress. If you drive, use the public parking lot located along the western wall of the structure. It is one of the largest lots in the city.
The fortress and public gardens are open every day, all day, though the wine shop has much more restricted hours and is closed on Sunday. Visit the fortress for free.