The Fortress or Rocca della Verruca (537 metres) dominates the plain crossed by the river Arno.
Sources testify to its existence before the year 1000. The name derives from the mountain of the same name, whose shape resembles a wart. Although in poor condition, it has retained a certain charm in addition to its pentagonal plan. There was an epigraph with the first trace of Italian that reads “Dodici Giugno MCIII” (Twelve June MCIII), preserved in the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo in Pisa.

The Rocca was so an important stronghold in the defensive system of the Pisa Republic, that it was called “the eye of the Pisans” because from up there it was possible to control a large part of the territory. If a village was attacked, it signalled its request for help by waving flags, lighting fires and ringing bells. These signals were reproduced until they were seen by the Verruca, which alerted Pisa.

There are curiosities and legends. A couple of them concern Leonardo da Vinci, who climbed up here in 1504 in order to redesign the course of the Arno and flood Pisa. The enterprise failed miserably. It is also said that he took inspiration from the steep height of the fortress to design his flying machines.

At the north-west bastion there is a secret passage that led outside the fortress in case of escape. The legend, never verified but preserved in the nearby Convent of Nicosia, speaks of an excavated tunnel of over 10 km that reached as far as Pisa. Highly improbable but suggestive.

Accessibility: the Rocca can be reached in two main ways: one is a little longer and more tiring but much more suggestive, going up from the Convent of Nicosia a Calci (or from the Certosa) following respectively route 143 or 141. Route 143 takes you to the Prato a Ceccottino near La Verruca. With route 141 you reach Montemagno, and then cross path 139 and continue to the Rocca. The duration of the walk is about one hour and 30 minutes.
The second most comfortable is by car. Going up from Via della Verruca in Vicopisano, you follow a dirt road that reaches the Prato a Ceccottino, with a small car park from which you walk up to the Rocca.




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