In the 1540s, the fortifications of Messina were being modernized due to fears of the expanding Ottoman Empire. Forte Gonzaga was built on the hill of Montepiselli, outside the city walls. It was able to defend the mountainous landward approach to the city, and it also overlooked the Strait of Messina. The fort was designed by Antonio Ferramolino, a military engineer from Bergamo. He was assisted by Francesco Maurolico, a native of Messina. It was named after the Viceroy of Sicily Don Ferrante Gonzaga, and was completed in 1545.
The Ottoman threat was reduced after the Catholic victory in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, and the fort's importance began to decline. It saw use during the 1674–78 uprising against Spanish rule. Spain eventually lost Sicily in 1713, but invaded the island five years later during the War of the Quadruple Alliance. During the invasion, the fort did not offer much resistance and was captured by the Spanish general Luca Spinola.
During the Sicilian revolution of 1848, the fort was captured by rebels, who used it to bombard the Real Cittadella which was still in Bourbon hands.
Forte Gonzaga saw use in World War II when it was used by German and Italian forces prior to the Allied invasion, and it was subsequently used by American forward observers to direct artillery fire during the invasion of Italy. It remained a military establishment until 1973, when the Italian Army handed it to the municipality of Messina. There are plans to restore the fort and turn it into a museum and conference centre.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.