The Abandoned 17th Century Tower of St. John the Baptist

The Abandoned 17th Century Tower of St. John the Baptist

The Torre Scola (or Scuola) – the Tower of San Giovanni Battista, is part of the former Republic of Genoa (Repúbrica de Zêna). It lays within the Gulf of Poets, part of the province of La Spezia, on Palmaria Island, in Porto Venere, Italy.

This coastal lookout was set to protect the Republic of Genoa. Set guarding the nearby towns and villages from the rising concern and threat of ballistic technologies. The thickness of the structure (4 feet on average) aided in the resilience of artillery in that era. It was built at a cost of 56,000 Genoese Lira in the 17th Century. (If it was 20 Lira equals 1 USD the cost today would have been around $2,800).

The Abandoned 17th Century Tower of St. John the Baptist

The Republic of Genoa was a self governing commune from 1005 to 1797. It only ceased when the French First Republic conquered Genoa under Napoleon’s orders. It then became the Ligurian Republic.

In 1800, Torre Scola was at the center of engagement between British and French fleets. An impact of the Napoleonic Wars, the British damaged the bulwark so greatly when trying to send the French fleet out of the Gulf of La Spezia.

The Marina Militare (Italian Navy) used the tower as target practice through the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was set to be demolished in 1915. The Inspector of Monuments at the time, Ubaldo Mazzini, reported this to the Ministry of Education preventing its demolition. During the late 1970’s it under went restoration of the perimeter walls.

This structure is just one example out of at least 14 others that displayed the strength and formidable military concentration in Porto Venere. It was in fact the same place used by the Byzantine fleet after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The Abandoned 17th Century Tower of St. John the Baptist

The 4 sided design allowed for more efficient defense against attacks over other coastal lookout designs. A tower such as this would have been equipped with 10 cannons, 6 soldiers, captain and a bombardero (or master).

Scola is set to translate to “rural chapel or Parish” instead of the direct modern translation of school. This is because the tip of Palmaria was known as Scola and there was an ancient religious foundation there, later arising the Benedictine monastery of St. John the Baptist.

The Gulf of Poets is so named due to the several writers that lived and visited there including : Lord Byron (a poet and diplomat), Simonetta Vespucci (the Renaissance muse of Botticelli) and Gino Montfinale (an admiral, writer and artist).

Where is Scola Tower located? You can find it with these coordinates. 44.051720, 9.858277.

The Abandoned 17th Century Tower of St. John the Baptist

Image 1 posted from VKMAG. Image 2 by Alessandro. Image 3 by Graeme Maclean.

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