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Dammuso del Gallo or Torre Amari 

Torre Amari or Dammuso di Gallo is a military watchtower that operated for about three centuries starting from the fifteenth century, for the control of pirate ships from the Trapani area. The Mediterranean sea, since the second half of the fifteenth century, due to the ruinous fall of Constantinople in the hands of the Ottoman Turks, is dominated by the Turkish, Algerian and Tunisian naval powers that make frequent raids along all the Sicilian coasts, raiding men, women and children and anything that could be of value. The privateer ships departed from the equipped bases of the North African coast of Algiers, Tunis, Mahadia and Djerba and moved quickly in the Mediterranean, creating terror for their raids. It was therefore necessary to fortify the port cities and perfect a system of towers aligned on the highest points of the coastal hills, to be able to warn the cities and countryside in time, allow the evacuation of the population and prepare the necessary defenses to face any enemy landings. All the mountains adjacent to the city of Palermo and in a strategic position, including the seaside villages of the wide gulf between Capo Gallo and Capo Zafferano and also the small villages and the extra-moenia countryside of the Conca d'Oro, were equipped with positions and towers of lookout. At first they were provisional posts, that is, without any shelter for the guardians and not constantly manned. In the sixteenth century, persisting the pirate raids that compromised all the economic and commercial activities of the island, in the space of a few years hundreds of sturdy and well-equipped towers with a square or circular plan were built along the Sicilian coasts, which had to resist as well as any boarding, including the shelling of new firearms. It is in this historical context that the Dammuso di Gallo was built, thus protecting the western side of the city and the fertile and attractive countryside of the Hills from pirate raids. Located a short distance from the hamlet of Partanna, the Dammuso di Gallo is a lookout tower set up since the fifteenth century, subsequently called Amari since in 1721 the whole promontory and part of the rich neighboring territory, with annexed the hamlets of Tommaso Natale and Sferracavallo, it belonged to Count Amari. The tower was manned by two guardians who had the task of watching over ship traffic and promptly sending messages of smoke and fire (day and night). The Dammuso di Gallo is located a few meters from the overhang of Malopasso, has an almost square plan of 4,86 x 4,58 m with a single entrance facing SW, with a thickness of walls ranging from m. 0,60 to m. 0,80 overlooking the Piana dei Collie the city of Palermo, a vaulted roof and a cistern dug into the rock for the collection of rainwater. The tower was built using local stones, fixed with mortar. It is positioned on a plateau with a gentle slope close to a curtain of rocks that protected it from the annoying north winds, but which probably also had the purpose of hiding it from the sight of any enemy ships approaching. The structure is harmonious in its essential lines, with attention to the construction technique, following the typical pattern of the contemporary square-plan factories scattered along the Palermo coast. A short distance from the air line towards the NE is the solitary Mazzone tower, built at the furthest point of the mountain, more rugged and difficult to reach, but which was at the same time one of the most favorable and strategic observation points of the whole Palermo area.  

In-depth document: Pippo Lo Cascio - The Dammuso di Gallo or Torre Amari in Archaeological Sicily XXV n. 80 Year 1992   

download document: LO_CASCIO_Pippo_A_tower_of_sighting

Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero, Web 

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