THE ZIRO TOWER: A MAGICAL PLACE WHERE NATURE AND LEGEND BLEND TOGETHER
In Scala, an ancient town on the Amalfi Coast, is the Ziro Tower, which to this day is all that remains of a medieval castle overlooking the sea. A mysterious place surrounded by vegetation and reachable only by a path, it is a popular destination for trekking enthusiasts and lovers of stories and legends. Let us find out together why!
by Roberta Cascone
The Ziro Tower is the keep of the ancient Scalella Castle in Pontone, a hamlet of Scala, overlooking the towns of Amalfi and Atrani. It was built in medieval times by the Duchy of Amalfi in a strategic position on the gulf, which made it an excellent lookout point for Saracens arriving from the sea. There are still doubts about its origin, but scholars believe that the tower dates back to 1151, when it was still called Rocca S. Felice, and only in 1292 did it take the name "turris ctiri." This name probably comes from the Arabic word ctiri, since the cylindrical shape of the tower recalled the typical jars in which olives or grains were stored. Unfortunately, little remains of the castle: only the tower and a few sections of the crenellated walls are visible, overlooking the town of Amalfi, of whose landscape they are now an integral part.
The tower is famous not only for its historical and scenic value but especially for the aura of mystery that surrounds it: it was in fact the scene of one of the bloodiest events in the Duchy of Amalfi in the 16th century, namely the tragic story of Joan of Aragon.
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The Ziro Tower in Scala
Between history and legend
Joan of Aragon, known as "The Crazy," married the Duke of Amalfi Alfonso Piccolomini at a very young age. She was soon widowed and, in order to manage the duchy she inherited from her husband, she received the help of the court butler, Antonio Beccadelli of Bologna: then, they started a clandestine relationship and had three children. On the other hand, Giovanna's brother, Cardinal Louis of Aragon, did not approve of this scandalous liaison at all: so the pair of lovers were forced to flee, but the escape was short-lived. Antonio was captured in Milan and killed, while Giovanna was taken back to Amalfi. At this point, according to tradition, Joan and her three children were imprisoned inside the Ziro tower, where they died, walled up alive. Popular legend says that concrete evidence of the tragedy is precisely the lack of windows and doors in the tower, which to this day is considered an unfortunate and haunted place.
Despite its sad reputation, the tower is also a popular destination for those who love the trails of the Amalfi Coast: let's see together how you can reach it!
A path with a view
The Ziro Tower can be reached on foot via a path of about three hours of low difficulty and therefore within everyone's reach. The starting point is right at the small square of Pontone: from here you take the stairs to Via Fritto, and after about ten minutes you are at the steps leading to Atrani. Once here, just continue straight ahead and follow the signs that lead to the tower. Along the way there are many places to stop and take in the view, but the most extraordinary belvedere is the one right above the tower, from where you can see Amalfi, Atrani and the clear sea of the Gulf of Salerno. So, what are you waiting for? Bring comfortable shoes and a bottle of water and enjoy the mysterious and fascinating atmosphere of the Ziro Tower!
- The tragic story of Joan of Aragon has inspired many literary works including:
- the tragedy “The Duchess of Malfi” by John Webster, one of the masterpieces of Elizabethan Theater first performed in 1614;
- the tragedy "The Butler of the Duchess of Amalfi" (original title El mayordomo de la Duquesa de Amalfi) by Lope de Vega, first performed in 1618.
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