Torre Scanzana, Torre della Scanzana, also known as Torre del faro, or simply as Faro, is a tower ordered by the Spanish viceroy in the XVI century. Dino D’Angella, in his Saggio storico  [historical essay] , reports a royal ordinance of 1568 for the institution of a light cavalry corps along the Ionic coast, in which is mentioned a system of fortifications: «Havendo li illustrissimi et Eccellentissimi Viceré del presente Regno ordinato la custodia et securtà de tutte le marine di detto Regno per lo quale ha fatto costruire ed edificare molte torri [...]» (“Having the most illustrious and mostexcellent Viceroy of this Kingdom the guardianship and safety of every coast in the Kingdom for which ordered to build many towers […]”). Nevetheless, it is necessary to relate what we have just observed with the “core” of the royal ordinance, in the part regarding Montalbano and Pisticci, to understand better the topic.
Cavallari tre li quali habbiano da guardare e discorrere da detto luoco et
Pantano di S.Basile infino alla bocca del fiume Acri, s’habbiano da pagare a
detta ragione di ducati tre per ciascuno il mese et hanno da servire per detto
predetto cavallari dui li quali s’habbiano da guardare, servire ed discorrere
dalla bocca di detto fiume, cioè infino alla torre della Scanzana,
et carricaturo di S. Stefano; s’hanno da pagare alla ragione suddetta et
servire per detto tempo.
PISTICCI: Cavallari dui li quali habbiano da guardare et discorrere da detto luoco et Torre della Scanzana insino alla bocca del fiume Basento; s’hanno da pagare alla ragione predetta di ducati tre per uno il mese et hanno da servire per il tempo predetto».
Three horsemen who must control and run from that place and Pantano di San
Basile up to the mouth of the Agri river, and they must be paid for this office
three ducats each per month and they have to serve for the aforesaid time.
aforesaid two horsemen who have to control, serve and run from the mouth of the
said river, and up to Torre della Scanzana and Carricaturo [alike a road] di
Santo Stefano; they have to be paid for their office as we said and to serve for
the aforesaid time.
two horsemen who have to control and run from the aforesaid place and Torre
della Scanzana up to the mouth of Basento river; they have to be paid three
ducats per month and they have to serve for the aforesaid time.”)
della Scanzana was, following these informations, a “crossroad”, a
fundamental junction in the net of fortifications intended to defend the coast,
as we can evict from the function that the ordinance seems to give it.
Effectively, in “Criminale” resort, not far away, we can see the ruins of
another tower, Torre Mozza ,
in very bad state, manifest evidence of the existence, in
loco, of a well constructed defensive system.
there are some topics on which it’s useful to make some clarity. First of all
the date of
surely occurred. Rondinelli ,
actually, writes about a Turkish raid in Calabria and Lucania before 1580, better in 1555: evidently the Ionic coast of Lucania must have been the starting point for the piratical raids. We can understand better, in this way, the text of the inscription included in the walls of Montalbano: the town had to yield a rich spoil to the criminal crew. Besides, according to Rondinelli, the bandits didn’t spare fires, after
that was surely needed a system of fortifications along the coast, in order to
control the horizon, whose operation was strictly correlated to the cavalry
corps: “[…] discorrere dette marine,
ciò la notte per il tempo et loco, che stanno qui notati con la vigilanza che
se reca ordinandolo in nostro nome, si come noi li ordiniamo che debbano
attendere di detta guardia con la diligentia, che si deve, discorrendo
continuamente, che per il territorio, che a ciascheduno d’essi sta commesso...
rispondendo l’uno cavallaro all’altro da posto in posto, et così anche con
li guardiani delle torri, quali se trovano situate tra detti luochi che essi
cavallari discresendo, et detti cavallari s’habbiano da eligere idonei [...]”
“cavallari” had to “ ride along
the coastline, during the night for
the time and in the place here notated, ordered in our name. And we order that
they must carry out their duty diligently, running continuously the territory,
answering one horseman to each other, from place to place, and so must do the
tower guardians, placed between the aforesaid places in which the horsemen have
to run. And these horsemen have to be chosen suitable…”)
in addition to the clear description of a defensive and telecommunication “in
nuce” system, how the ordinance is careful and insists about the
competence and seriousness of the horsemen: the hypothetic Turkish raid had to
cause serious damages to the very fertile soil and fields of the Ionic coast
(the same ones that the current government, with an equally piratical raid, was
about to poison with the nuclear rests) and to the local economy, if we don’t
want to mention the considerable impact that the event surely had on the
communities of Montalbano and Scanzano.
surely the two towns weren’t the only target of the raids. According to the
same royal ordinance we can observe how the interested area was the whole Ionic
almost the east and west borders of the entire mentioned coast portion. Notice
that are involved centres situated in the hinterland as well, like Tursi, from
where the horsemen had to ride up to Torre
della Bullita, in the territory where today lays Nova Siri Scalo. This
suggests the use of the earlier
fortifications, then supported by
the new series of buildings along the coast, if we don’t want to mention the castrum [military castle] of Policoro, already exsisting in the
Swabian era, where, as hands Richard of St. Germano ,
in 1232 Frederick II of Swabia gathered the troops for the expedition against
the Saracen in Sicily.
the “Libro Negro della città di
[Pisticci City’s Black book] says that: “Alli
24 di ottobre 1567 partio da Napoli davante me Stefano di Maria commissario de
informations combine perfectly with the text of another royal ordinance of 1567
related by D’Angella 
“contro i fuoriusciti e i delinquenti”
[against outlaws and criminals], which reports: “[…] Magnifici
Capitanei, luogo tenenti, Sindaci, Eletti, università et homini delle
sottoscritte Città, terre, luoghi di queste Provincie nostre carissime.
Nell’anno passato essendo aumentati li forosciti li quali perturbavano il
quieto vivere delli regi subditi, commettendone varii furti et eccessi, anzi con
miglior agilità s’havessero potuto discacciare et estirpare, fu ordinato a
molti delle sottoscritte terre, et luochi che avessero creati et eletti un certo
numero di patricuriati et homini atti all’arme et scoppettieri con ordinarli
il loro capo, con li quali ogni volta, che s’intessono forosciti nelli
territori si dovesse uscire de un capo con una squadra, et perseguitarli, et
pigliarli, et li capitanei, Sindaci, et eletti, si havessero donato aviso alle
altre terre convicine… Noi con la presente ordiniamo esserci forosciti et
delinquenti nel loro territorio debbiono uscire in loro persequutioni, et usare
diligentia a cercarli, e cercarli e carcerati li conducono in questa Regia
Hudienza et a fin che se li possa dare il condegno castigo, promettendo che
quelli, che li ragione spetteranno alla corte di dette terre remittendoli quando
bisognerà uscire con loro gente ultra l’allestito debbiano detti capitanei ,
luochitenenti, Sindaci et Eletti uscire con l’altri et discacciarli et fare di
modo, che a detti delinquenti non s’offerisca comodità di repatriare, et
delinquere nelle loro terre, della quale eletione delli soldati fra sei giorni
si debbiano mandare lista autentica in questa Regia audienza…
in Salerno il dì 7 aprile 1567… Pisticci soldati venti in una squadra. Segue
lista dei soldati fatta dall’univ. di Pisticci
Captains, Lieutenants, Mayors, Elected, Universities [here meaning “Cities”]
and men of the aforesaid cities, lands and every places of these our beloved
Provinces. Due to the increase, during last year, of the outlaws who disturbed
the peaceful life of the king’s subjects, doing many wrongs and thefts, in
order to root out and get rid of them, we directed many people
of these lands to elect a certain number of men qualified for arms and riflemen,
with a commander, who have, everytime outlaws gather in the aforesaid
territories, to go out with a
squad, to pursue and catch them. The Captains, the Mayors and Elects advise
everybody in the neighbourhood… With this ordinance we direct to pursue
outlaws and criminals diligently, and to send them to the Royal court in order
to give them the due punishment. And promise that those outlaws and criminals
who rightly have to be judged by the court of their lands, will be sent back.
The Captains, Mayors, Elects, Lieutenants must, when they will have to go out of
the boundary walls, go out with the others, chase them away, so that the
criminals have no way to get back in and commit crimes in their lands. Within
six days the certified lists concerning the election of the soldiers must be
sent to this Royal court…”
the same year, the 1567, were issued the “Capitoli” [Capitulars, a kind of laws] of Pisticci, reported by
the “Libro Negro” ,
oriented to set the civil life of the town in a singularly strict way. All these
elements give the idea of a situation of tension, if it wasn’t properly an
endemic plague of banditry in that period had to grow worse, maybe sharpened by
the crowds of outlaws who remained in loco after the raids. But, at this point, the dating of 1555
of the Turkish raid given by Rondinelli seems too old. But
considering the two Royal ordinances in their chronological order (besides the
fact that the “Universities”
surely needed some time to organize their defence) we can draw other conclusions:
we can evict from the ordinance of 1567 that the squadrons organized in Pisticci
(and likely in the cities of the neighbourhood) had to be on watch and “ogni
volta, che s’intessono forosciti nelli territori” […] “uscire de un capo con una squadra, et perseguitarli, et pigliarli, et li capitanei, Sindaci, et eletti, si havessero donato aviso alle altre terre
outlaws gather in the aforesaid territories,
to go out with a squad, to pursue and catch them. The Captains, the
Mayors and Elects advise everybody in the neighbourhood…). They had to advise
the garrisons of the near cities. This suggests the use of the elder
fortifications, situated in the hinterland, even though one year before the
ordinance concerning the cavalry corps, the net of fortifications along the
coast to which belonged Torre della Scanzana had to be already working. Let’s
put forward a theory: until 1567 the fortifications on the coast had another
function, which changed from 1568 on with the institution of the cavalry corps.
Let’s take in consideration Montalbano and Pisticci, the only two centres
whose horsemen had as a common destination Torre della Scanzana. How could they
transmit to each other incidental sightings of armed bands from the coast up to
the boundary walls? The system of communication had to be “double”: the two
centres had to communicate between them through the “Petrolla”,
that in XVI Century is also mentioned as “Difesa
della Petrolla” ,
from whose fortifications was possible, as we said, to control the coast, from
where the guardians stationed in the towers had to confirm the sightings with
signals and the horsemen had to ride, in order to advise the near towers. Notice
that as the horsemen from Montalbano and Pisticci had as meeting-point Torre
della Scanzana, so had the ones from Montalbano and Tursi at “Pantano
di San Basile” and the ones from Bernalda and Pisticci at the mouth of the
river “Salandrella”. This way, the two corps of horsemen from Tursi and
Rocca Imperiale had their meeting-point at the mouth of the Sinni.
Let’s think. Montalbano and Tursi are, according to the ordinance of 1568, the only two centers who have to supply the larger number of horsemen, and precisely two squads, composed of 2+2 horsemen for Tursi and 3+2 for Montalbano. It’s not a case: the two cities lay exactly both in the center of the list related by the ordinance and of the urban system we are examining. Considering then the three “points of tangency” of the cavalry squads from Tursi, Montalbano and Pisticci, we can realize that they mark a smaller area, included between Pisticci’s beach of today and Policoro-Nova Siri. And, what is curious, this is the line in which there is more distance between the fortifications on the coast and the ones in the hinterland: in Policoro the aforesaid castrum had to serve as “intermediate stop” between the fortification along the coastline and the inland centres such as Rotondella and Nova Siri (the ancient town, onto the hill, not the new city on the seashore); in Pisticci there was the castle-farm of San Basilio for the communications with the towers of the boundary wall and with the fortifications in Torre di Mare, the modern Metaponto, in its turn communicating with Bernalda. Well, there was a lack of a “combined action”. The remaining part is the one of Montalbano and Scanzano, where we can’t find fortifications between the coastline and the hinterland: how could the two defensive systems to communicate with each other? In my opinion an essential role was plaid by the large number of castle-farms laying in the zone, such as Andriace (Casale Andriachium, a fortified castle-farm), Masseria Castello di Recoleta (for my theory about the dating of this farm before the XVII Century, see the related articolo in the “Pre-Testi” section of this website), as well as the aforesaid castle-farm of San Basilio and Santa Maria del Casale, not far away, near Pisticci.
Anyway, apart from the dating of a probable Turkish raid in 1555, the territory in question had to need, in the sixties of the XVI Century, a radical reformation, not only from the military point of view, but also for what concerned its territorial organization and its means of communications.
Saggio storico sulla città di Pisticci, Pisticci 1978.
J. Andreae Martii Liber Niger Civitatis Pisticii, Opera
A. D. 1567, edited by C. Spani, Roma 1988.
de S.Germano Chroncon, in G. Del Re,
Cronisti e Scrittori
sincroni napoletani, II: Svevi, Napoli 1845-1868.
Montalbano Jonico ed i suoi dintorni. Memorie storiche e topografiche,
1 Dino D’Angella, Saggio storico sulla città di Pisticci, Pisticci 1978, pp.121-123.
2 I postpone the description of this tower to another article, because the practicability of the path leading to it has been compromised for many days, because of the continuous rains and so it wasn’t possible for me to reach it in the past days.
3 Prospero Rondinelli, Montalbano Jonico ed i suoi dintorni. Memorie storiche e topografiche, Taranto 1913, pp. 34-35: : Rondinelli follows a “fascicolo manoscritto del tempo  contente grazie e privilegi, chiesti dalla cittadinanza montalbanese al nuovo principe Don Garzia de Toledo dopo il 1573, cioè dopo che costui ebbe comprato Montalbano e preso possesso del feudo” (a comtemporary  hand-written fascicle concerning privileges demanded by the people of Montalbano to the new prince Don Garzia de Toledo after 1573, after he bought Montalbano and came into possession of that fief).
4 Riccardi de S.Germano Chronicon, in G. Del Re, Cronisti e Scrittori sincroni napoletani, II: Svevi, Napoli 1845-1868, p. 76.
5 U. J. Andreae Martii Liber Niger Civitatis Pisticii, Opera A. D. 1567, a cura di C. Spani, Roma 1988, p. 132: “Militi di Pisticcio” (Pisticci’s soldiers).
6 Dino D’Angella, Saggio storico sulla città di Pisticci cit., pp. 119-120.
7 U. J. Andreae Martii Liber Niger Civitatis Pisticii cit., pp. 49-84 (original latin version; pp. 85-125 italian translation).
8 Ivi, p. 145.
©2004 Pierfrancesco Nestola