Categories: Travel

Torre Scola, a Fortress at Sea in La Spezia, Italy

A historical monument, a witness from the past.

  • The Torre Scola is a 17th century fortress in La Spezia, Italy.
  • It was part of a defensive system built by the Genoese to protect themselves from their enemies.
  • Almost destroyed in 1800 and in 1915, it has become a popular tourist destination in the Gulf of Poets.

A ruined tower stands beyond the northeastern tip of Palmaria in Porto Venere, in the Gulf of Poets, in the province of La Spezia, Italy.

Built in 1606, Torre Scola, originally named Torre di San Giovanni Battiste or Tower of St. John the Baptist, served as a stronghold against the enemies of the Senate of the Republic of Genoa.

The remaining structure of the pentagonal fortress is more than 42 feet high, and its walls are approximately 4 feet thick.
The citadel overlooks Palmaria Island and it looks like its emerging from the water.

Torre Scola was just one of the towers built on the Ligurian coast. It was a part of a large defensive system designed to protect the land from hostiles. The stronghold could accommodate one chief, a bomber, and six soldiers.

Chronicles dating back to that era claimed that the construction of the tower amounted to £60,000.

Its primary purpose was to defend the cove Olivo of Palmaria island, Lerici, and Porto Venere. Portovenere Fortress was also erected during that same period. Likewise, they expanded the San Giorgio castle and fortified the castle of Lerici.

Years later, they changed its name from Torre di San Giovanni Battiste to Torre Scola because the tip of Palmaria island was in front of it.

Each corner of the military structure is topped with a turret. Additionally, there is an observational opening for ten canons to guard the area from possible attacks coming from the sea.

On June 23, 1800, Torre Scola was nearly destroyed as the naval battle between the British and the French transpired.

British fleets attacked the area in an attempt to defeat Napoleon’s troops, consequently damaging the fortress.

A vital part of the stronghold broke down and it was abandoned thereafter. As the years passed and peace dominated the land, Torre Scola lost its purpose. The Marina Militare or the Italian Navy used the site for target practice for some time until officials planned to demolish it in 1915.

Fortunately, Ubaldo Mazzini, a poet, journalist, historian, and a local official of the Ministry of Education who was born in La Spezia saved the fortification. Its historical value was finally acknowledged.

Torre Scola was systematically restored from 1976 to 1980 and has then become one of the most famous tourist attractions in Italy.

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