Torre Scola: almost destroyed because of Napoleon, saved by a miracle
The fortification in front of Palmaria Island has a long story: built by the Genoese, almost destroyed by the British and saved from being demolished.
Some italianize its name in “Torre Scuola" and some swear it was a prison, but the story of the Torre Scola is different and goes from the Republic of Genoa time, the Napoleonic time, the British domination: ask Mr. Ubaldo Mazzini.
Torre Scola: Genoese defensive bastion
The Torre Scola looks at the Palmaria island and is by a key architectural element of the Gulf of Poets, offering itself to the objectives of photographers and arousing the curiosity of children and tourists in particular.
Torre Scola was built in the early seventeenth century (ed. chronicles of the time report its cost was of 60,000 pounds and housed a boss, a bomber and six soldiers) with the provisions of the Republic of Genoa and as part of an upgrade program of defensive fortifications in the La Spezia Gulf. To resist the threats that opponents could have led towards the possessions of the Superba, was also built the Portovenere Fortress, the San Giorgio castle in La Spezia was enlarged and the castle of Lerici was consolidated.
The original name of the fort is Torre di San Giovanni Battista Tower of St. John the Baptist. The purpose of its construction was to control over the cove Olivo on the Palmaria island, which would have remained otherwise defenseless. It was later named Torre Scola, from the name of the Palmaria island’s tip in front of it.
Destroyed in the battle between Napoleon and the British
Until 1800, the fort withstood time and enemies. June 23, 1800, however, forever changed the tower’s story.
At the time, the Gulf of Poets was under the control of Napoleonic France. In La Spezia waters a violent battle between the French the English fleet was staged.
The British gunfire damaged it severely, partly breaking it down and forcing its abandonment.
“Tear down the Torre Scola!", or maybe not
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Scola Tower seemed useless for defensive purposes, as it was designed in the earlier centuries and ruined in its structures.
So, in 1915 its demolition was planned. Apparently, it was for the interest of the Local intellectual and Ministry of Public Education Ubaldo Mazzini that the fortification was saved.
The Tower’s standing out profile carries the signs of the shellings ( In the course of the last century it was also used as a test target by the Marina Militare ), but in the eighties of the twentieth century it has been subjected to consolidation measures that now allow it to soar in the midst of the Gulf, witness of centuries of local history.