The imposing walls of the San Martino Fortress
San Piero a Sieve
The construction of the fortress, at the request of the Medici, was begun on June 30, 1569 but the final layout of this imposing structure is the work of Bernardo Buontalenti who probably completed it in the last decade of the 16th century.
It is characterized by seven bastions that stand at intervals along the irregular walled confines. The fort is almost a mile long and at its most dominant position stands the mastio (Tuscan for male) known as the knight on a horse.
Inside the fortress we find the quarters of the castellan and those of the garrison, which, along with the chapel, made up the actual defensive core of the fort.
In one of the castellan's rooms we can still admire a 16th century fireplace with a monumental Medici coat of arms.
The fort holds vast subterranean vaults – among which we find what seems to be a passageway that led to the Sieve River and could be run on horseback – cisterns, warehouses, casemates, arms and munitions deposits, foundries for cannons and wind mills.
It was constructed to function as an important war machine but was never used for this purpose; it did, however, act as an exceptionally strategic deterrent.
It is now being restored.
We suggest a walk along the walls.