The Coastal Towers of the Gargano

Due to the constant threat of raids by Saracen pirates, in 1563 the construction of ten towers was established in correspondence with strategic places on the Gargano coast, almost all in visual connection with each other, within a large coastal fortification project commissioned by the viceroy don Pedro Afan de Ribera, which played a fundamental role in the reconstruction of the castle of Vieste.
The guards, sighted one or more enemy ships approaching, gave the alarm by lighting a fire on the roof. The smoke during the day and the light of the fire at night allowed the other towers to receive the danger signal and in turn send a further signal up to the fortified village where the population could find refuge.

The transmission system was very simple, a tower had to send a greater number of signals (puffs of smoke or flashes of fire) as the number of enemy ships sighted increased. It only took a few minutes from the first sighting to alert all the Apulian towers.
The towers, with a quadrangular base, measure about 11 meters per side and have a height of about 12 meters. They are on two floors, with a room on each floor and with an opening onto the terrace for supplying weapons and for signalling. The ground floor was used as a warehouse and the upper one as a home. The walls have a thickness of about two meters at the base and are in local stone.

In the surroundings of Vieste we find:

    • The Garlic tower, from which you can observe an enchanting panorama
    • The tower of San Felice, from which it is possible to admire thenatural arch.
    • The Gattarella tower, inside the homonymous resort
    • The tower of Portonuovo
    • La Porticello tower
    • The tower of Finalize it (halfway between Vieste and Peschici)
    • The Usmai tower (in the Peschici area)
    • The Calalunga tower (in the Peschici area)
    • The tower of Monte Pucci, between Peschici and Saint Menaius, Vico del Gargano marina

Instead, the tower of Molinella, the tower of the Testa del Gargano were destroyed, while the tower of Pugnochiuso o della Pergola became the base of the lighthouse.

Much of the information on the Capitanata towers and the towers of the Kingdom of Naples they come to us from a document kept at the National Library of France in Paris, which consists of a detailed and illustrated analysis of the coastal towers of the Capitanata, the work of the Marquis of Celenza Valfortore, Carlo Gambacorta. He was designated to conduct this inspection, which took place in December 1594, on behalf of the authorities of the Spanish Viceroyalty present in Italy. The document, of great value, bears the title: “Visit of the towers of Capitanata in the month of December 1594 and of those of Abruzzo in the month of October 1598; report of the Marquis of Celenza to the Marquis Olivarez, viceroy".

Detail of Willem Blaeu's 1630 map

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