The Savoy Tower

Calasetta represents the second settlement nucleus – in chronological order – established in Sardinia by the will of the Savoy government. In 1754, the State Secretariat of the Kingdom of Sardinia designed the first colonization of the island of Sant’Antioco, near the Calasera inlet and the mouth of the Rio Topei, but due to controversies with the archbishop of Cagliari, who claimed exploitation rights of the island, the project did not take place. Only a few years later, in September 1770, a community of Tabarchini (people of Ligurian origin who had moved to the locality of Tabarka, near Tunis, since the 16th century to practice coral fishing in the surrounding waters) arrived on the Sulcitana island after having requested two years before to the Sardinian government to be able to move to the island.

The Order of the Sacred Religion of Saints Maurice and Lazarus was entrusted with the transfer and settlement of the colonists, to which King Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy granted the island as a fief in 1758 with the task of repopulating it. The project of the new foundation, elaborated by the artillery lieutenant Belly, foresaw a settlement that would develop according to the grid layout that still characterizes it today. Once the center of the settlement had been identified (corresponding to the current Municipio square), Belly traced the main axis (current Via Roma), oriented N/E-S/O, on which the other roads would intersect at right angles. Each housing unit, to be built with stone and mixed earth, would have had a courtyard, stable, barn, and vegetable garden. The common water reserve would have been located in the center of the square, while the parish church would have been built on the north side of the same square. The protection of the territory was ensured by the mighty tower that still dominates the historic center of the settlement.

Built in 1756 according to the project of the military engineer Vallin, it was garrisoned by a four-soldier garrison and allowed the surveillance of the sea and coasts between the islands of Sant’Antioco and San Pietro and the mainland, with a visibility of 20 km. Made of volcanic stone blocks on a rocky base at the top of the promontory towards Carloforte, it has the classic truncated cone shape with a base diameter of over 16 m and a height of 11 m at the terrace. It consists of two superimposed rooms, the lower one being the ancient cistern, the only water resource for the tower keepers, recently widened and equipped with a large external entrance. The entrance at 4 m above sea level leads into a circular room with a diameter of 10 m, covered with a dome supported by a pillar. The room is divided into several areas by some terraces. From the staircase open on the right of the entrance, and obtained in the wall thickness, one reaches the courtyard, now unrecognizable after various interventions that have transformed merlons, cannoniers, and guardhouses. Currently, the tower hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural activities. The parish church, dedicated to San Maurizio, was only built in 1838 and in a different location from the one envisaged in Belly’s project, to avoid that its bulk would disturb the view from the tower.

With a central plan, a pedimented fa├žade, and two small cupola bell towers, it is attributed to a first design by Belgrano di Famolasco, then to a classicistic transformation curated by Carlo Pilo Boyl in the early 19th century. History of studies The tower is included in the works on coastal fortifications in Sardinia.

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