The strategically important territory between Pietrasanta and Montignoso had a fortress controlling the Via Francigena
since the XIth century. This area was under constant pressure from Genova on one side, Florence and Lucca on the other, while pirates attacked from the sea. At the end of the XVth
century, after the war with Sarzana, the Florentines occupied Pietrasanta and Central Versilia; the new government began a policy of economic and military changes. In order to protect the coast Grand Duke Cosimo dei Medici began the construction of the Salto della Cervia tower in 1568.
The area where the tower
stands, fortified since the year 1000, was probably used to control the region around the lake of Porta Beltrame; it has an unusual position compared with fortifications defending the inland regions from attacks coming from the sea, usually situated along the coast or near the mouth of a river.
The construction of the fort was continued by the Grand Duke's son Francesco I and completed by Ferdinando Ist
in 1588, twenty years after it had begun.