The Forte Stella is a characteristic coastal fortification located in the municipality of Monte Argentario. Its location is near Porto Ercole, on a promontory that rises west of the town, not far from the Spiaggia del Sbarcatello. In the past, it was one of the bulwarks of the defensive system of the Argentario promontory.
The fortification was built by the Spaniards in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the entire area became part of the State of the Presidios, within which it was one of the strategic points of the entire defense system, being able to communicate visually with the Tower of the Aviator in the west, with the aldobrandesca fortress of Porto Ercole and even with the Tower of San Pancrazio on the promontory of Ansedonia to the east.
The place chosen for the construction of the defensive structure was that in which stood the Sant’Ippolito Fort, of Renaissance origins, which was one of the cornerstones of the pre-existing defensive system of the southeastern part of the Argentario promontory: part of it was incorporated into the central part of the new fortification, readapting it.
The construction work was carried out after the construction of the Forte Filippo and after the restructuring and redevelopment of the oldest fortress of Aldobrandesca, fortifications both located in the town of Porto Ercole. The Spaniards, for the construction of the new fortified complex, turned to Cosimo I de ‘Medici who entrusted the direction of the works to the architects Bernardo Buontalenti and Giovanni Camerini, who developed the project for the defensive structure in 1558; the pre-existing central part of the Renaissance era was probably built on the project of the military engineer Francesco di Giorgio Martini.
The construction of the imposing fortification took a very long time, so much so that the two architects in charge of the project directly from King Philip II of Spain never succeeded in seeing it completed. It seems, in fact, that the completion of the work was completed only in the second half of the seventeenth century, although the project elaborated in the previous century had been thoroughly followed: in a representation of 1646 the fortified structure was still incomplete, still appearing plan different from that of the project.
The functions carried out in the past by the fortress were mainly those of sighting, thanks to the possibility of an excellent observation along a stretch of coast that ranges from the southern shore of the Argentario up to the promontory of Capo Linaro beyond the city of Civitavecchia. Its gradual disposal took place during the nineteenth century, as the entire area temporarily passed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and then to the Kingdom of Italy. Just in the years following the Unification of Italy, it was decided to definitively abandon it from its original military functions.
Remained state property, the entire fortified structure was the subject of restorations carried out in the nineties of the last century, which brought it back to its former glory, allowing an excellent state of conservation. In 2004, Forte Stella was the scene of a series of TV commercials of the mobile phone company TIM.
The Forte Stella presents itself as an imposing fortification, characterized by the presence of two forts, one outside and one inside.
The area in which the fort is properly located is bounded by an external fort that develops in a quadrangular shape, with a pentagonal bastion that encloses each of the four corners of the perimeter. The curtain walls of the external fort, with a shoe base, enclose the internal area on which the fort properly rises; externally there was a system of ditches in the past that made access to the complex even more secure and secure. To overcome the external fort you need to take a long ascending ramp that leads to the door that opens on the north-eastern side of the outer wall. The access door to the complex, surmounted by a round arch resting on two horizontal cords, is preceded by a bridge that has replaced the lost original drawbridge in modern times. The stretch of curtain wall where the door is opened is protected by a small ravelin, built only in the eighteenth century, where two long vertical slits stand side by side with a slit on each side, which further protected the entrance to the fort giving greater guarantees of safety in the control of accesses. Finally, there are two large emblems along the front elevation.
The area enclosed within the external fort rampart constitutes the base on which stands the fort proper said, built on the existing Forte Sant’Ippolito, which develops with a characteristic star-shaped plan with six points, with thick and high curtain walls consisting of a mighty shoe base de