Forte di Belvedere provides a breath of fresh air after you’ve been with the crowds in the centre of Florence. The fortress is on top of a hill above the Boboli Gardens to the south of the river Arno and offers spectacular views of the city and the surrounding Tuscan hills. Getting to Forte di Belvedere requires a steep walk and the site is therefore much less crowded than most other sites in Florence.
The fortress was constructed between 1590 and 1595, ordered by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando I de’ Medici, to strengthen the city’s defences. It was built around the existing villa Palazzina di Belvedere, which served as a luxurious hideout for the Medici’s in case of unrest or epidemics. The architect was Bernardo Buontalenti, who also designed the decorations for the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens.
Nowadays Forte di Belvedere is used as an exhibition centre for both private events and public exhibitions.