Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tower of the Winds

Torre del Marzocco, LivornoOne of the peculiarities of the “Torre del Marzocco” is that it is a tower of the winds. On each corner of the octagonal balcony there is clearly written the pertinent wind, in this case “Tramontana” from north and “Maestro”, Mistral from north-west.Torre del Marzocco, LivornoOn the other side we have “Gherbino” from south-west, now better known as “Libeccio”, and “Mezodì” (Ostro from south). The four winds with the hidden names are: “Ponente” (Poniente from west), “Iscilocho” (Sirocco from south-east), “Levante” (Levanter from east) and “Grecho” (Gregale from north-east). Some metal stitches from a previous restoration to keep the stone covering in place, are clearly visible on the middle corner.Tower of the Winds, Athens, GreeceThe shape of the Marzocco tower and the wind naming scheme were probably inspired by the Athenian Tower of the Winds, where the winds are represented by friezes on the sides. In the Greek version we can see “Zephyros” (Poniente from west), “Lips” (Libeccio from south-west) and “Notos” (Ostro from south) as bas-reliefs.Torre del Marzocco, LivornoThe Marzocco tower is also adorned with Florence's communal symbols: the Lily, the Cross of the People, the Shield crossed with “Libertas” and the Guelph eagle.Torre del Marzocco, LivornoIn another old postcard the Marzocco tower is seen in background from the mainland, with another tower in foreground.Vintage postcard, Torre del Marzocco e Torre del Magnale, Livorno, This other tower is not the “Torraccia” (Bad Tower), as stated on the card, but the “Torre del Magnale” (from the Latin for great, “magna”). It was built between 1154 and 1163 by the Pisans to defend what was then their port. The tower was damaged in the last war and demolished.

See also: Torre del Marzocco - Cranes

21 comments:

Jacob said...

A super post, VP! You got all the angles! I love all those intricate details. Hard to imagine something like that being constructed today - well, maybe in Italy it would be done but unlikely here.

Are people allowed to go up inside the tower?

Paula said...

What a great history lesson, I'm always fascinated by the history of warfare! And I love the idea of building these towers with their connecting wall, it's very impressive.

tapirgal said...

What a fantastic post! The towers are beautiful with their details, and the history is very interesting. Even more than that, what a poetic language and culture to name the various winds. I've heard some of the names (Mistral and Sirocco), but didn't know there was a whole scheme, and did not realize what they meant. This is great!

Small City Scenes said...

Another historical and interesting post.

And I thought 'they called the wind Mariah'. MB

Small City Scenes said...

By the way: You commented about the 'names' of river and towns out this way. A huge majority of rivers and towns are names after a Native American word. But caucasions always mangled the pronounciation. We have as rivers close by me.
Indian names:
Skagit
Stillaguamish
Nooksack
Sauk
Snohomish
Skykomish
I could go on---also the Indian spelling is way different then the final words seen. MB

J Bar said...

Magnificent.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Lily Hydrangea said...

Your photographs depict quite wonderfully what I love about Italy.
Nice post VP.

Wolynski said...

It's been built up quite a bit since 1900. Wonderful bit of history.

Rob and Mandy said...

Amazing tower!

Dina said...

A name for every wind direction! Does that stem from your being a sea-faring nation?
I love the different colors of the stones and their stitches.
I hate to hear of such works damaged in war and demolished. Hope never to see such a thing happen in Jerusalem.

joo said...

Haven't realised that are so many different winds - we have here strong and very strong:)
And seriously, another terrific post, the tower is great!

VP said...

Jacob - We aren't able to built something of beauty anymore and nothing that will last like this.
You can't go even near the tower, much less inside, because it is in a very restricted area of the port.

brattcat said...

A Tower of the Winds, VP! This makes me sigh.

Kaori said...

Wow, great shots of the tower! The details are very beautiful :)

Hilda said...

Very interesting information about the winds — I didn't know that there were eight! The symbols are fascinating too. It's a lovely tower and though access is restricted, I'm glad your city was able to preserve it.

B SQUARED said...

A tower like that wouldn't survive 200 years here.

Halcyon said...

Very nice towers. And so much detail!

JM said...

Great details and super interesting description!

Cezar and Léia said...

That's neat! I remember seeing a similar one in Athens!
God bless you!
Cezar

Stine in Ontario said...

So interesting. The detail on the tower is amazing. What a shame the tower featured on the postcard was damaged and had to be destroyed!

ruma2008 said...

Grazie di aver mostrato lo splendido paesaggio.


Dall'Estremo Oriente.
Con i migliori saluti.
ruma