La Torre di San Francesco a Palmi nelle vedute di Edward Cheney del 1823: immagini di un baluardo scomparso del sistema difensivo vicereale della Calabria Ultra

To oppose the phenomenon of waves of Turks threatening the most exposed areas of the Kingdom of Naples, the viceregal government ordered from 1535 the construction of a continuous and articulated chain of defensive coastal towers.

In Calabria, on behalf of the Viceroy Pedro di Toledo, the Marquis Francesco Pignatelli developed a project to identify the most suitable and strategic sites where to build the towers along the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts. This network included 69 towers in Calabria Ultra and 33 in Calabria Citra, clearly visible from each other at a maximum distance of six thousand steps. Most of these towers have lost their original function over time, and after the taking of Algiers in 1830, some were used as customs posts or torri semaforiche, and then be permanently abandoned. Today almost all of them are ruins. The cartographic sources and above all the iconographic ones, testify the importance of this defensive system of towers suspended between the land and the sea and arranged one after the other, real sentinels of the Mediterranean.

On this occasion, the focus is on the Tower of San Francesco, was probably built in 1565, in Capo Barbi in Palmi,  along the Tyrrhenian side between Reggio Calabria and Capo Vaticano. The bulwark was destroyed in 1956. The Tower of San Francesco, as evidenced by historical cartography and the views of Antonio Minasi in 1779 and Richard Keppel Craven in 1821, was portrayed in three drawings made by Edward Cheney during his travel to Calabria in May 1823. These views identify the characteristics of the architectural typology of the tower and the relationships with the town of Palmi; to relate it to the coastal towers of Pietre Nere (Taureana) and Capo Rocchi (Bagnara); and finally to the landscape of the Costa Viola up to the Strait of Messina.