The symbol of San Miniato is the Fortress of Frederick the Second, built on the highest point of the city in 1221, as reported by an inscription of an imperial chancellor. Its strategic position allowed to control the transit of men and goods between Florence and Pisa and along the via Francigena.
The Fortress mentioned by Dante
The Rocca, with a quadrangular plan, is 37 meters high and crowned by cylindrical columns made of bricks, in imitation of the pinnacles on the bell towers. Its characteristics indicate the probable participation to the construction of Norman workers.
The Rocca is sadly remembered by Dante in the Divine Comedy (Inferno, Canto XIII) as it would have been the prison where Pier delle Vigne, secretary of the emperor who fell into disgrace under the accusation of treason, was blinded.
The bombing in 1944
In July 1944 the building was razed to the ground by the retreating Nazi troops. What we see today is a complete reconstruction of 1958, although faithful in size and masonry technique to the original thirteenth century. From the top of the Rocca you can admire a magnificent view of the Valdarno hills as far as Pisa.
The Rocca is part of the Museum System of San Miniato.