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Congress Venue

The construction of the Fortezza da Basso was ordered by Alessandro de’ Medici and built between 1534 and 1537 on a project by Pier Francesco da Viterbo and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, well-known military architects of the time. Initially, it was called Castello Alessandria and only after the construction of the Belvedere Fort in 1600 did it begin to be named Fortezza da Basso (because it was located on the plain while the Forte del Belvedere was located in the hills). The reason for the construction is linked to the terrible episode of the siege of 1529-30, which caused thousands of deaths among soldiers and civilians.
To ensure control of the city, the Medici decided to build the military fortress that was to provide accommodation for the troops, refuge for the rulers in case of revolt, intimidate the Florentines, and extinguish any idea of​a Republic with its majesty. In the Lorraine period, other buildings were built such as the building for the officers and a theatre. During the period in which Florence was the capital of Italy, its moats were levelled and most of the walls were buried.

Starting from 1967, a long restoration and adaptation of the Fortress was undertaken as the site of the Florentine exhibition centre. Thanks to these works, the fourteenth-century Porta a Faenza, the ancient course of the Mugnone, a stream that flowed into the city’s moats, the interior of the Keep and some other structures of some interest, such as the powder magazine, are visible today.
​Two new exhibition pavilions were created to host the Firenze Fiera events: “Spadolini” (1977) and “Cavaniglia” (1996). In total, the rooms available for exhibitions and events, in addition to the two mentioned above are: the Arsenale Pavilion, the Lorenese Theatre, the Giaie Pavilion, the Rastriglia, the Quartieri Monumentali, the Palazzina Lorenese, the Sala della Ronda, the Polveriera and the Hall of Nations.

Inside the fortress there is one of the offices of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure with numerous scientific and restoration laboratories. The fortress was built in a pentagonal shape to insert the base side into the pre-existing Arnolfian walls. At the centre of this longer side, the so-called keep was built, which incorporates the ancient Porta Faenza which was part of the second municipal circle of the thirteenth century.

Travel & Accessibility

How to get around...

Florence's main historic center is relatively small so that it is easy to move around on foot.  Using a car around Florence is not advisable, as there is little parking, many streets are pedestrian only and streets are often one-ways. A fleet of small electric buses also provides links between key areas in the center. 

How to get to the Congress Center

By tram

The tramway is the ideal zero-emission transport to move around the city without worries. The congress and exhibition center is connected to the motorway through line T1, and to the airport through line T2. 

Line T1 

To the Fortezza da Basso | Stop – Fortezza Fiere e Congressi 
To Palazzo dei Congressi & Palazzo degli Affari | Stop – Valfonda – Stazione SMN 

Line T2 

To the Congress & Exhibition Center | Stop – Alamanni – Stazione
By car

You can park at Villa Costanza – the first Drive & Tramway system in Italy – without exiting from the motorway. Villa Costanza is connected to T1 Leonardo tramway line: only 22 minutes ride away from Santa Maria Novella train station, at the very heart of Florence city centre.

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