You are in the presence of one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on the Amalfi Coast between Atrani and Amalfi. We are talking about the Torre dello Ziro which, bordered by high battlements, overlooks the maritime area. A typical emblem of the Angevin era, a cylindrical structure aimed at defense from above rises above a scarp base. It dates back to the 13th century when the first floor was divided into two parts. One of them was once intended for the detention of prisoners and the second dedicated to collecting rainwater. Previously, by means of a retractable wooden staircase, it was possible to climb to the top of the tower. How can you admire it in all its splendor?
A landscape that tells of itself
To reach Scala, exit the town of Ravello and proceed towards the streets of the oldest village on the coast surrounded by olive, lemon and chestnut trees. Let yourself be carried away by the scent of nature in a timeless landscape. You will understand how the coexistence between man and the environment has created a unique harmony, still crossed by Contrade and narrow paths. But what gave birth to all this?
Scala was born in the 4th century AD, according to historical reports, at the hands of castaways from Rome to Constantinople. During the period of the early Middle Ages, on the other hand, he held the role of defense against attacks from the slopes behind Amalfi. Until the 11th century Scala was the center of very important commercial exchanges thanks to families of historical importance such as the D’Afflitto, the Trara and the Sasso . Do you know that one of the most illustrious individuals of the time was born from the latter?
It is Fra Gerardo Sasso . You will certainly know the Order of the Knights of Malta , founded by him, originally called Order of the Jerusalem Hospitallers . His mission during the years of the crusades, he devoted himself entirely to giving shelter to all pilgrims in the Holy Land and their protection. Going up to the top of the tower, you feel and perceive its strategic importance.
The 360 ° view facilitates the sighting of any threat from Atrani and Amalfi, from the Gulf of Salerno and from the Lattari Mountains. So you can imagine for yourself the military importance of the elevated position. A curiosity concerns the name itself. Originally called Rocca di San Felice, it has changed since the thirteenth century, calling itself Turris Cziri. This name is linked to the ancient function of internal conservation of terracotta containers intended for oil (ziri) .
A clandestine love
How many times have you read about princesses that I cannot unjustly fulfill the dream of being able to love whoever they want? Even the Torre degli Ziri brings with it the story of a deep bond that unfortunately resulted in tragedy. Giovanna d’Aragona (1477-1510) , nephew of Ferrante I of Aragon king of Naples, marries the Duke of Amalfi but remains a widow shortly after.
Consoled by the butler Antonio Beccadelli he falls in love with them and, later, they get married. The laws of mourning did not consider other marriages after the death of one of the spouses, therefore their union and the two children they had remained secret. However her brother, Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona , discovers the clandestine family. He therefore locks up his sister and grandchildren in jail while sending assassins to join Antonio, who has fled to Milan.
There are no reliable sources on the end of Giovanna and her children, however there are two legends. One tells of the same end that Antonio hit by the assassins, while the other speaks of a long captivity until his death. It is not known what the real story is but, surely, the end of a strong love that resulted in tragedy.
Torre dello Ziro, timeless emotions
In addition to the love story it tells and its military importance, it transports you to an experience beyond all limits and imagination. From the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Atrani stands the bell tower of the sixteenth century right next to the sea. The red roofs create a dream optical effect. Continuing the route and, passing the tower, you can see Amalfi, the Basilicata of Sant’Andrea and the medieval village.
Walking within the walls of this splendid building, you cannot fail to be pervaded by a sense of majesty by imagining all the events experienced within it. A story that tells of numerous battles, of rich and flourishing commercial relationships, of the birth and fall of the Republic of Amalfi , of a tragic love and of the relics of Sant’Andrea.
If you love to travel and learn about the events that make our country great and wonderful, you cannot miss the Torre degli Ziri and the Amalfi Coast. These areas, rich in history and rare beauty, are tourist destinations that will draw an indelible line in your memory.