Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

Discovering Forte Belvedere in Florence



Famous Forte Belvedere, an impressive fort designed in the 16th century by  Bernardo Buontalenti for Grand Duke Ferdinando I with the additional purpose of protecting nearby Palazzo Pitti and the Medici family rule {you can also see the Medici family coat of arms above the main doorway}.  I have always heard about this place for its impressive panoramic views of the city but until very recently it was closed after two deaths in the fort. Something tells me its the mystery surrounding those two tragedies just as much as the fort itself that makes this one very interesting place for locals and tourists alike.

Truth be told there IS something a bit eery about this place. I can’t really explain it but perhaps something or better yet someone,  haunting the place. We could see the fortress as the protagnist to future horror movies.

Yasmine perfecting her ‘bella vita’ pose

Yesterday I finally got the chance to check this place out myself with my friends, Yasmine and Svebor, and with the help of smartphones, we found it fairly easily. From Ponte alle Grazie you can expect a 10-15 {uphill} walk along the street, Costa San Giorgio. 5 euros to enter, we almost felt like we had the fort ourselves since not that many people were visiting that afternoon. Currently there is an exhibit by artist Zhang Huan “Soul and Matter” featuring several large sculptures {the huge one is titled “Three heads – six arms”} dotting the landscape along with an internal exhibit on the first two floors of the fort.

Inside the fort the artwork on display was of a kind I found pretty interesting. According to Firenze Turismo “The peculiarity of this sculptor is the use of matter: he uses metal, leather, bronze and the characteristic incense ash, which undergoes an inevitable decay in the same period in which the work is shown and it is a clear symbol of the transience of existence.” 

According to Zhang, “The ashes of incense is not only ashes, nor only matter, but it is the collective soul of our memories and our hopes.”

From one room you have former Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek staring you down, while in another room are two sculptures of Buddha and Jesus, facing off among others made with leather and dirt. Want to know about the art and the rest of the exhibit at the Palazzo Vecchio? You can read more here.


From the fort, you can also spy on the Boboli gardens from above and behind the fort offers some pretty gorgeous views of the countryside. I was like a kid in a candy store with my camera.

Of course, after taking a gazillion photos of Florence and walk around the expansive fort, you might get a little thirsty. No problem, they have you covered with a lounge bar on-site which frankly surprised me in its coolness factor. Prosecco, wine, juice, water – this would be one fun place to have aperitivo with friends {albeit an early one because it closes at 8pm}.

If you haven’t been — go. Many Florentines I know talk used to talk about this place quite often and I knew once it re-opened that I had to see it myself since who knows when it might be closed again for another five years.

Forte di Belvederevia San Leonardo

Ticket –  €5.00 {local residents should ask about signing up for a special pass since entrance for them is free until October 13th!}. 10am- 8pm, closed on Thursdays.

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10 Responses

  1. I tried to enter last Spring not knowing that they were closed. Nicco explained the two deaths and I was shocked that they stayed open after the first death. I also heard a dog disappeared. ;-o

    Did you get a chance to visit before they closed it? I wonder how it was two years ago.

    A conspiracy just popped in mind… they probably closed for an extra year just to build the bar!

    1. I didn’t get a chance to visit before they closed which is a real bummer because I too, would have liked to see the difference. You are right about the dogs! I saw a sign outside that spoke a bit about one of the deaths and they mentioned that a few dogs disappeared in that same spot – freaky!

      You never know the real motives for such a long closure, red-tape Italy nightmare. The bar is pretty cool though. I want to go back especially since it’s free for residents (though they NEGLECT to tell you this at the ticket office, you have to ask!).

  2. Can you give anymore info about the deaths? Is it safe to be there? We’re the two people murdered? Or weer they natural deaths?

    1. they were natural deaths and both of them fell, it’s absolutely not a dangerous place if that’s what your wondering, just a horrible tragedy :(.

  3. What a cool discovery! I loved how you mentioned that you were “like a kid in a candy store” when it came to snapping pictures. Looks like this space is more than just a cool backdrop to different art exhibits!

    1. Thanks Cassandra. There is something about this place that makes you want to google as much as you can to learn more when you come home. At least that’s how I felt!

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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