Torre del Greco

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Torre del Greco
Comune
Città di Torre del Greco
Panorama of Torre del Greco
Panorama of Torre del Greco
Coat of arms of Torre del Greco
Coat of arms
Torre del Greco is located in Italy
Torre del Greco
Torre del Greco
Location of Torre del Greco in Italy
Coordinates: 40°47′N 14°22′E / 40.783°N 14.367°E / 40.783; 14.367Coordinates: 40°47′N 14°22′E / 40.783°N 14.367°E / 40.783; 14.367
Country Italy
Region Campania
Province Naples (NA)
Government
 • Mayor Ciro Borriello
Area
 • Total 30.7 km2 (11.9 sq mi)
Population (30 April 2009)
 • Total 87,575
 • Density 2,900/km2 (7,400/sq mi)
Demonym Torresi or Corallini
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 80059, 80040
Dialing code 081
Patron saint St. Januarius
Saint day September 19
Website Official website

Torre del Greco (English: "Tower of the Greek") is a city and comune in the Province of Naples just south of Naples in the Italian region of Campania, with a population of some 88,000 as of 2007. People are sometimes called Corallini because of the once plentiful coral in the nearby sea, and because the city has been a major producer of coral jewellery and cameo brooches since the seventeenth century.

History[edit]

Ancient and Medieval Period[edit]

Historically part of Magna Graecia, the area was first colonised by ancient Greek settlers. In Roman times, Torre del Greco was probably a suburb of Herculaneum, characterized by patricians villas. After the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius which destroyed the area, two villages are known to have existed in the area, Sora and Calastro. The Byzantine general Belisarius moved their inhabitants to Naples in 535. Around 700, it is also known as Turris Octava, the Latin for The Tower of Eight [sides] or The Eighth Tower, probably referring to a coastal watch tower. Torre del Greco's Five-a-Side football team is called Turris Octava {www.turrisoctava.it}.

In 880 the territory was settled by the Saracens, with the permission of Bishop Athanasius of Naples. The current name appears for the first time in 1015; according to tradition, it stems from a Greek hermit who took up residence in the tower, or from the cultivation of a particular vine from Greece.

The Middle Ages[edit]

Torre del Greco was part of the royal estates of the Kingdom of Naples, until King Alfonso V of Aragon ceded it to the Carafa family.

In 1631 Torre del Greco was again damaged by an eruption of Vesuvius. Its citizens bought back their rights in 1699, after paying 106,000 ducats to their landord, the Marquis of Monforte, and thenceforth the city flourished as a maritime trading and fishing port. The tradition of coral crafting dates from this time.

The historical center of Torre del Greco was buried under a 10 m-deep layer of lava in 1794.

19th and Early 20th Century[edit]

At the time of the French rule of Joachim Murat, Torre del Greco, with 18,000 inhabitants, was the third largest mainland city in the Kingdom of Naples after Naples and Foggia.

Starting in the 16th century, wealthy families and even Italian nobility built elaborate summer palaces on the outskirts of the town. Among the most notable of these is the Palazzo Materazzo, renovated in the 1970s as a dance school, but later taken over by squatters after a 1980 earthquake destroyed the homes of many of the poorer residents. In the 19th century, and continuing into the early 20th century, Torre Del Greco was a popular summer resort for wealthy Italians.

In its heyday Torre Del Greco was renowned for its cafes and eateries, particularly the "Gran Cafe Palumbo", a large Art Nouveau cafe with an extensive outdoor pavilion known for its gelato (ice cream), pastries, food and coffee. The famous Italian comedian Toto, was among those who made Torre Del Greco their annual summer retreat. The reason for Torre Del Greco's popularity as a resort town was its fine beaches and the rural setting of lush farmlands and vineyards, as well as its close proximity to Mount Vesuvius. As the town nearest to the volcano, Torre Del Greco was the main starting point for tourists wishing to scale the mountain. This was facilitated by a funicular railway (Vesuvius Funicular) which took tourists to the crater from the town.

During World War II, the city was used as an ammunition depot by the German Army, and consequently suffered heavy bombing by Allied forces.

After World War II[edit]

After the war tourism swiftly declined, and with the increase in automobile use the funicular railway fell into disuse, thus effectively removing one of the main reasons for visiting the town. In addition, from the 1950s onwards, massive development, urbanization and population increase stripped the city of its "rural" atmosphere, contributing to the move of tourists on to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Few now recall the Golden Age of Torre Del Greco as a tourist destination. Nonetheless, coral art and jewellery remains a mainstay of the city's economy.

Geography[edit]

Climate[edit]

Torre del Greco experiences a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa).

Climate data for Torre del Greco
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 12.5
(54.5)
13.2
(55.8)
15.2
(59.4)
18.2
(64.8)
22.6
(72.7)
26.2
(79.2)
29.3
(84.7)
29.5
(85.1)
26.3
(79.3)
21.8
(71.2)
17
(62.6)
13.6
(56.5)
20.4
(68.8)
Average low °C (°F) 3.8
(38.8)
4.3
(39.7)
5.9
(42.6)
8.3
(46.9)
12.1
(53.8)
15.6
(60.1)
18
(64.4)
17.9
(64.2)
15.3
(59.5)
11.6
(52.9)
7.7
(45.9)
5.1
(41.2)
10.4
(50.8)
Precipitation mm (inches) 104
(4.1)
99
(3.9)
86
(3.4)
76
(3.0)
51
(2.0)
33
(1.3)
25
(1.0)
41
(1.6)
81
(3.2)
130
(5.1)
163
(6.4)
122
(4.8)
1,011
(39.8)
Source: [1]

Main sights[edit]

  • Roman archaeological remains, including the so-called "Villa Sora" (1st century AD), probably a property of the Flavians.
  • Monastery of the Zoccolanti, with a cloister housing 28 frescoed panels depicting the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
  • Parish church of Santa Croce, whose Baroque bell tower was buried by lava in 1794.
  • 17th-century church of San Michele.
  • Villa delle Ginestre, where the poet Giacomo Leopardi sojourned.
  • Museum of Coral.
Torre del Greco near Pompeii, Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1846.

Cameos and Coral Jewellery[edit]

Diving for coral has taken place in the Mediterranean Sea ever since Roman times, and in the 15th century Torre del Greco became known for its coral diving and harvesting of red coral. However, It was not until the 17th century that the first cameos were produced, and not until 1815 that a unique manufacturing contract was granted to the town by the King of Naples for a period of 10 years.

At present there are several hundred companies and several thousands of people employed in the manufacture of coral and shell cameos. Coral is now mainly imported from Asia, since increasingly, areas in the Mediterranean are becoming protected. The total industry is estimated to have a turnover of around US $225 million.

Notable people[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

Torre del Greco is twinned with:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Torre del Greco historic weather averages in Italy". Intellicast. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 

External links[edit]

In English
In Italian