In the sixteenth century the Ligurian coast was struck by a danger that terrified its people for about 300 years: the “turcheschi” pirates. Centuries later, after the last terrible Saracen invasions, Turkish and Berber marauders (coming from the East, from Tunis to Algiers) or sometimes Christian converted to Islam, came on their fast ships and sighted the coastal villages.
Khair-ed-Din called “Barbarossa”, chief of the fleets of the Ottoman Empire, Draghut, Ucciali, a renegade born on the Calabrian coast and Giaffer, were the commanders of the best known expeditions that, in summer, went back the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas, plundering the villages and pillaging men and women, subject to redemption or sale as slaves.The Ottoman expansion in the West, who had great boost with the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, was added to the war between two Christian powers, Spain and France, where King Francis I, most Christian prince, had allied with the “infidels “to beat the enemy Charles V.
In this situation the piratical fleets could go with relative tranquility in the Western Mediterranean and hit Spain and its allies. The tools available for the defense of coastal communities were not many. Only by the strengthening of the old fortified structures of medieval origin, by the construction of some towers with cannons, muskets and harquebus, the measure of resistance of these small villages increased.
At the end of the fifteenth century, in order to monitor the coast, the Republic of Genoa armed two galleys, which in the summer of 1490 became four.
Warning signs were thrown from very specific points scattered along the coast; this function was held by the promontory of Mesco in Monterosso and Montenero in Riomaggiore, which are situated to the western and eastern extremities of this area. At night the fire was the only mean used for reporting. If it was burning at regular and pre-defined intervals and burned continuously, you could sleep quietly; but if the fire was lit and then immediately turned off or dimmed, and if simultaneous fires appeared, it was a signal that the “infidels” were close, with many boats as there were fires. During the day the signals were made with smoke.
The Cinque Terre suffered badly on 8th July 1545 when a pirate flotilla led by the infamous Draghut invaded Monterosso. From the galleys, the pirates came down to the beach and looted and burned houses and carried off men and women. From there they went back on board, did not attack Vernazza but hit on Corniglia, which suffered the same fate as Monterosso.
Then it was the turn of Manarola, where, however, the pirates could not dock, as the men of the village were aided and rescued by the men of Riomaggiore, thus preventing the looting.
From Cinque Terre Draghut moved into the Gulf of La Spezia, where he docked waiting to get a ransom for the prisoners whom he had brought with him.
The last Islamic attack took place on the night between 24th and 25th of June 1815, off the coast of Mesco, when a Turkish “bombard” plundered two boats out fishing for anchovies. The men were taken away while the boats were abandoned.
18 March 2023
The ring San Terenzo – Trebiano – Pugliola – Venere Azzurra on the ancient flax road.
19 January 2022
The Park of the Walls: balcony on the Gulf of Poets
13 October 2021
Creuza de Ma: seaside mule track
1 April 2021
Loop San Terenzo – La Serra – Rocchetta – Zanego – Lerici
13 December 2020
The Parish church of Marinasco: breathtaking terrace over the Gulf of Poets
6 November 2020
L’Antro del Corchia: the jewel of the Apuan Alps
23 October 2020
The Monterosso’s lemons’ festival
11 October 2020
The origins of the Via dell’Amore
21 April 2020
Lerici and San Terenzo: the bay of the english
27 March 2020
Vernazza: on the waterfront
7 December 2019
Corniglia: a terrace on the sea
8 September 2019
The path 436: from Montemarcello to Punta Corvo beach
22 April 2019
The anchovies of Monterosso
3 December 2018
The Via Francigena: walking in the history
18 September 2018
The path n. 508: from Vernazza to Reggio
2 May 2018
Portovenere: splendid pearl on the sea!
11 January 2018
Montereggio: a village of booksellers and publishers
15 November 2017
From Lerici to Bocca di Magra with the Liguria Trail (SL)
13 August 2017
The island of Palmaria
14 March 2017
Sciacchetrail 2017 – Third Edition
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