There are about 20 defensive ramparts, built in several stages, along the coastal strip going from Massa Lubrense to Vico Equense and still tell us the story of eight hundred years (from the IX to the XVII century) of struggles incurred by local people against Saracen bloody raids. From the Byzantine period, in fact, through the domination of the Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese and Spanish viceroys, the inhabitants of the Sorrento Peninsula had to defense themselves from the pirate attacks who plundered the villages with incredibly ferocity, leaving behind them a red trail of blood, rubble and imprisonment. Some of these events have remained in history, such as the massacre of Conca dei Marini in 1543, the attack of Cetara in 1534, the Turkish invasion in 1587 or the story of the Berardina Donnorso, Sorrento noblewoman who was kidnapped during the brutal invasion in 1558 and freed after seven years of slavery, upon payment of a huge ransom by her family. There are two types of coastal towers: the first and oldest ones are cylindrical shaped and go back to the Angevin period. They are tall, thin, with few and small windows upward and had mainly an alarm function: they, in fact, signaled the imminent danger to the population, through the lightning of fires, allowing people to find shelter into woods, grottoes or fortifications.
Due to the intensification of raids, in the first half of the XVI century , the viceroy of Naples don Pedro of Toledo ordered the construction of a complex coastal defensive system along the coastline of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Naples - a tower every 4000/5000 steps, as we can read in the edicts -, consisting in more massive and square-shaped towers (type II), with thicker walls on the external side. The transition from the circular-shaped towers to the square-shaped ones was marked by the advent of artillery that necessitate a change in the construction of the fortifications. They had function of sighting, signaling, shelter and active defense, through the use of weapons whose range allowed to hit a ship near the coast.
The history of the coastal towers goes hand in hand the political and military evolution of the Kingdom of Naples: many of them needed urgent maintenance works already 30 years after their construction. With the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, most of the towers was unarmed and used for other purposes (residential, traffic light signaling or telegraph).
List of existing towers on the Sorrento coast:
- Tower of Crapolla (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Recommone (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Cantone at Marina di Cantone (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Montalto, Ieranto Bay (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Punta Campanella (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Fossa di Papa a Termini (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Capo San Lorenzo (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Capo Corbo or Corva (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Marina di Massa (Massa Lubrense);
- Tower of Sant'Elia di Ceremegna (Sorrento);
- Tower of Gallo (Sorrento);
- Tower of Guardiola di Punta Scutolo in Seiano (Vico Equense);
- Tower Marina di Equa (Vico Equense);
- Giusso Castle (Vico Equense).