[Dario's version] The two special towers in Florence

Florence through the Mayor's eyes - Chapter 3.

Discover Florence through the Mayor's eyes: a trip through the places and the mysteries of Florence.

Florence has vaunted strong city walls since its founding in Roman times, an enclosure built to protect the city from enemy attacks. Built and rebuilt throughout the centuries, the walls we see today date to the end of the 13th century, built by the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio, a man also tied to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Palazzo Vecchio.

The walls  were edified to defend against the most dangerous of enemies: they projected up into the sky, flanked by even taller towers and robust and impenetrable city gates.
In Florence there are two special towers: Torre San Niccolò and Torre della Zecca

The tower of San Niccolò is open to the public, the southeast gate from where the San Niccolò neighborhood emerges. Porta San Niccolò maintains its towering height (unlike the majority of the towers) because it was the main defense from the San Miniato countryside, the reason it’s still intact. It’s also a useful guide for measuring the approximate height of the other great gates that once guarded Florence.

On the other side of the river, on the right-hand side of the riverbank, you’ll find this tower’s twin – it’s not a city gate, but a tower that once connected Arnolfo’s walls: the Torre della Zecca. This tower’s name is tied to the Republic of Florence, which used the tower as a mint for florin production; the most famous coin in world history, so famous that several countries still use it today. The florin was manufactured using hydro-powered mallets, hence the necessity of close proximity to the water. Today, the Arno and the San Niccolò kiddle separate this tower from Porta di San Niccolò and these two towers are the lookouts of southeast Florence, facing the running waters of the Arno, a river that has always traversed the city’s history.

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