The tower was built to protect the Ponte Reale that was to be constructed after the devastating flood of 1333, but the project was never carried out. Together with the city gate and tower Porta San Niccolò on the other side of the river, and the kiddle in the Arno between them where boats couldn’t pass, it was an essential part of the city’s defenses.
Today the tower stands isolated in the middle of a road junction of the ring road boulevards in Piazza Piave, near Lungarno della Zecca Vecchia.
In 1532, after the tower had been lowered in height to the current 25 meters, La Zecca was incorporated in the project of Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane. It served as a bastion in the Old Fort or “Baluardo di Mongibello”, whose construction was ordered by Alessandro de’ Medici to improve the city’s defenses after the Siege of Florence.
The tower received the name, La Zecca, from the coin minting production (zecca) that was housed there for a certain period. Here the Fiorini of the Florentine Republic and other types of coins were minted.
The production required the use of hammers that were raised by means of toothed wheels actuated by the water flow, so it was located in the tunnels and spaces under the tower, where the water never lacked. These tunnels still exist but are not open the public. The tunnel that runs under the river connecting Torre della Zecca with Porta San Niccolò is permanently flooded and not accessible.
Starting in 2014 La Zecca underwent an extensive restoration that cost 300,000€ and took 18 months to complete, to return the tower to its former glory. In the summer of 2016, the tower opened its doors the public again after 15 years of closure.
The tower offers a spectacular 360° view of Florence. From the open fourth floor, you can spot important landmarks such as the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Synagogue, Santa Croce church and Piazzale Michelangelo.