Saturday, February 18, 2012

Porto Torre Talao?

Torre Talao on the beach with Scalea and mountains in the background
We found a publication in our favorite bar "Porto a Torre Talao?" We knew this as a controversy over whether or not a port should be built in Scalea at the historic Torre Talao. Time passes and apparently it's now a funded done deal to begin construction this spring. So the question mark in this post's title refers to our surprise! There is no doubt that plenty of people, probably most around these parts think it will be a good thing--especially for tourism in Scalea. There is, however, vocal opposition based on historic, environmental, and aesthetic concerns. I will do my best to lead you (concisely) through the proposal as I know it and will leave it up to you to decide what you think about it.  I have a question at the top of this blog to record your opinion. Give it a vote.
Close-up of the Torre and Port site
Cultural: Pictured above is the ancient tower as it appears today on a peninsula that historically was an island as shown below. The group Italia Nostra is against the port development saying that a park would best preserve the site as well as the building. They believe the landscape is an important feature of the historic site. The project proponents assert that the landscape around the tower will not be changed--except of course, it will be an island again. I can't help but also wonder whether the project will actually finish--there is a hospital in Scalea that was built and never opened, there are unfinished projects everywhere. How would that affect the landscape around Torre Talao?
Historic photo showing an island, rather than a peninsula--from a pub by
Scalea 2020
Natural: The objections concerning natural resources are complex but can be summarized as the environmental effects of more development along an already over-developed coast. The opponents also say there would likely be changes caused by introducing an area of quiet water interrupting the littoral environment and causing unwanted silting and deposition. The proponents mostly say that it will all be carefully studied and just the right design picked for construction. I assume that this must have been done if it's to start this spring--however, I haven't found anything on the web other than conceptual drawings.
This photo shows the linear nature of the beach near the Torre Talao
Aesthetic: This introduces my aesthetic objection--it's a beach area, not a natural cove or harbor. This means you have to create a quiet place with constructed sea walls and breakwaters with the poor tower trapped in the middle. This could be mitigated by an exceptional design with natural stone and careful placements of features--probably not considered in the cost estimates.
Italia Nostra included this depiction of the Port proposal on their website about it

The leap from conceptual drawings to finished product is very risky both for the health of the environment and the fine line between a beautiful addition to the built environment and an unfortunate eyesore.  Naturally, the landscape architect part of me finds the latter happens more often and is most likely in this particular political climate (insufficient budgets and general desperation about the economy). Architectual masterpieces are difficult, rarely designed by committee, and usually a surprise. I’m hoping but not expecting to be surprised. We also hope that it will be a success for the community and that it all turns out the way the proponents describe and the opponents doubt. 
Check out the following photos of existing ports--the captions explain why I chose to include them:

Port in the nearby town of Maratea--even with a natural cove to take advantage of, it has a very closed-in feel
due to the seawalls. Note the artificial rocks (concrete rip-rap) and bare concrete sea walls--an industrial look.

The port in Tropea takes good advantage of a natural cove, uses wooden docks. It has an appealing aspect.
Port at Trani. Good materials, textured wall, wooden docks--some things Maratea didn't use


  1. I love to follow your blog. In you all post You made some great points. This post was fantastic! Keep these coming up. :)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thanks for the nice comments. Is it Thanksgiving somewhere?

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Good job of being, or trying to be objective. I agree, the transition from being a concept to being implemented is a very risky. The more vague your details, the more support you will have. Everyone thinking in their own heads what the finished project will be. Conceptual drawings without the estimates of what it will cost, will make the project quickly go over budget as they try to build to everyones expectation. Or not!

  5. I think the creation of a port in scalea will be very good for the town but if the design and build quality is the same as other developments in scalea, this will be a disaster. You have said Maratea port is industrial and i agree but the building quality and finish is very good. In Scalea building quality and finish is very poor and design is very poor. They must make sure that the design works well with the old town and looks natural and the building quality and finush is the best. 2 of the best ports in europe are in croatia, marina zlatna luka and marina frapa. If scalea can copy these ports then it will be fantastic.

  6. G-for the most part, I couldn't agree more. Just don't think finishes at Maratea are that good.



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