Torre del Marzocco [Marzocco Tower]
An extraordinary example of fifteenth-century coastal tower, it was built by the Florentines after 1460. It owes its name to the copper Marzocco (a rampant lion) that sat on top and functioned as a weather vane. The Marzocco was hit by lightning in 1737 and no longer replaced.
The building is reminiscent of the wind tower of Andronikos in the agora of Athens. Octagonal in shape and with a truncated pyramidal base, the tower is lined with veined white marble. The corners of the octagon correspond to the four major winds and the four intermediate winds, the names of which are carved on the eight sides of the balcony. The interior develops on seven floors and is outfitted with an ingenious cistern to collect rain water. The tower is surrounded by a small sixteenth-century fortalice, built by the initiative of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici, with storerooms and quarters for the guards and soldiers.
Around 1930, several bathing establishments known as the Marzocco Sand Baths were built in the outlying area, only to disappear with the construction of the industrial New Port where the tower today stands.
Texts by Graziano Magrini
English translation by Victor Beard
Last update 26/feb/2008