The Water Cistern
The most obvious rupture in fortress’s buildings’ history occurred in 1327 when, in the wider context of the heated conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, Santa Maria a Monte, then still within the sphere of influence of Guelph Lucca, fell to the Florentine army, which occupied and razed the parish church of the Rocca fortress, together with all the buildings belonging to it. From 1335 the Florentines then proceeded to reconstruct the fortress on top of the hill and three perimeters of the existing defensive walls in order to ensure control of the area. And it was in this specific context of Florentine redesign of the castle area (including the original parish church) that the medieval quadrangular cistern, dating back to the Florentine reconstructions of the 14th century, should be included. Mentioned in the Statute of 1391, the cistern was designed and built for the purpose of storing drinking water, a key item for the military garrison that had to be able to withstand possibly prolonged sieges by their enemies. Originally, this building had to be buried a few metres underground, as can be deduced from the presence of the adjoining well for water adduction/collection. This last small structure, of almost cylindrical shape, was built using a mix of techniques by applying a single layer of building material against the virgin rock, although the part that stood proud from the ground had to be more robust.
A second medieval cistern can still be seen today in the municipal library. It exploited the natural cavities of the tufa that makes up the internal stratigraphy of the hill and was used, unlike that of Rocca fortress, to meet the needs of the entire population due to its location on Corso Carducci, the main street of the village.