TORRE FANO: FOR 2500 YEARS THE SHOULDERS HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT US FROM THE PIRATES
TORRE FANO: FOR 2500 YEARS THE SHOULDERS HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT US FROM THE PIRATES
Photo Source: Antonino Rampulla
When and why it was built

We know that in 1526 Torre Fano was partially destroyed by the barbarian corsair Dragut (actually admiral of the Ottoman fleet, viceroy of Algiers, lord of Tripoli and Mahdia), habitual of looting and raiding on the Sicilian coasts. The phenomenon of barbaresca piracy (from Barberia, that is the name with which the Europeans from the Middle Ages defined the African Maghreb, inhabited precisely by the Berbers), politically connected to the Ottoman Empire, between the 14th and 19th centuries it was a real scourge for the development of the Sicilian coasts. The barbarian corsairs did not limit themselves exclusively to boarding and raiding ships but were also protagonists of the deportation and enslavement of thousands of Sicilians (for example, in Lipari, in 1544, 9000 people were deported), for them a significant source of income (a young European slave could cost even more than one house).
In 1583 the military engineer Camillo Camilliani was commissioned by Viceroy Marcantonio Colonna, on behalf of Philip II of Habsburg, to survey the defensive and sighting structures of the south-eastern Sicilian coast in order to oppose a more effective resistance to the increasingly frequent pirate raids. Camilliani, however, described Torre Fano as a poorly functioning structure, to be overlooked in favor of the more urgent fortification of the island of Capo Passero. It would therefore seem that the construction of Torre Fano took place no earlier than the fifteenth century precisely as a response to the growing pirate phenomenon.
However the first construction of Torre Fano is likely to have its roots in the Greek era, certainly not before the foundation of Syracuse (733 BC) and its important sub-colony Kamerina (598 BC), part of a complex of coastal towers that put the two polis in communication through the lighting of fani for defensive purposes.
In Sicily, given the continuous succession of different dominations, architectural over-structuring is frequent: for example, the cathedral of Syracuse is built on a Greek temple, which it has incorporated. Considering in parallel the genesis of the nearby Torre Stampace, built in 1353 by order of Pietro d'Aragona, on the remains of a Roman fortress inside the polis Eloro, therefore probably in turn on a pre-existing Greek structure , it is plausible that Torre Fano, although remodeled several times throughout history, has kept original base and nucleus. Never exceeding ten meters in height and six in diameter, thus not being able to accommodate a military garrison or a cannon due to its small size, it has maintained its unique function of signaling tower and lighthouse for mariners until the beginning from the 18th century.
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What were the fani

The term fano is more likely of Greek origin than Latin. The Latin fanum meant for the Romans sacred, votive place, so it has little to do with a military watchtower. The Greek (transliterated) phanos had the meaning of umination (from which, for example, the Italian fanale ), by extension of tower with lighthouse functions. The reports were made by lighting particularly fuming fires, on their top.
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The fossils of Torre Fano

Probably those who felt that no form of protection and protection was necessary for Torre Fano, would have thought that after all it was only a pile of few stones. However, in addition to the intrinsic historical importance as military architecture of plausible Greek origin, a paleologically and anthropologically interesting fact is added: the stone with which it was built has evident fossilizations for demineralization , or fossil casts.
It can take millions of years for a fossil to form. And this is not an easily verifiable and frequent phenomenon ) . A living organism, in order to become a fossil, at the moment of death must find itself in a very short time wrapped in a very fine englobing sediment, so as to be completely and quickly isolated from the external environment, sheltered from aggressors biological, chemical and mechanical (e.g. bacteria, scavengers, water). In fact, Torre Fano is located in a very ancient area and the nearby Calafarina and Corruggi caves testify to an anthropization well before the Greek colonization. It is in fact between Marzamemi and Portopalo di Capo Passero close to an area that should be studied much more in depth than what was done at the beginning of the last century by the archaeologist Paolo Orsi, that is district Cugni, in which there are also evident traces of Greek and Roman settlements, but the existing laws in Italy encourage put any finds quickly back into the ground ).
It is unlikely that the builders of Torre Fano had chosen the material with which to fill the core of the structure with capillary attention, selecting almost exclusively stones with fossil traces (among other things, for what purpose?) Even less likely is that they had transported it from a place far from the one chosen for its construction. In short, those stones were there and those used.
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What remains of Torre Fano

Today the ruins of Torre Fano lie in a square with an incredible panorama of the Gulf of Noto, at the mercy of improvised writers and who would like to make it an ecological island for the collection of undifferentiated, without a shred of fence or a sign with that minimum of historical information that could perhaps make those who intend to carry out their love intentions on these desist.

To learn more, I recommend reading the text Torre Fano by Antonello Capodicasa and Pachino over timeby Giuseppe Drago.
Text Source: Antonino Rampulla
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