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Moresco, Heptagonal Tower

On a ridge strategically dominating the Aso Valley, sits, like a solemn bronze crown, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It was once called Castrum Morisci, owing to a probable temporary settlement of Moors in the area. Of this first settlement stage not much evidence has come down to us. However, thanks to archived documents and to the current layout of the village, we can get an idea of how the Moresco castle looked during the Late Middle Ages. Besides a favourable geographical position, the triangular castrum had an efficient defensive structure, made up of massive walls and a series of towers along the southern and northern curtain walls. There was a gatehouse which guarded the south side which was always in visual contact with the turris magna, a palisade with a ditch that blocked attacks before they managed to penetrate into the inhabited part and finally a tower about twenty-five metres tall of a characteristic heptagonal shape which dominated the valley to the west and from which attackers could be bombarded from above. Built around the end of the 16th century, the keep, which according to tradition originally had a cusp, a typical feature of Arab architecture, in reality simply had a wooden roof which enabled the area around to be guarded in all seasons and in particular gave the men on guard duty some shelter from arrows, darts or small projectiles. Replaced later by Ghibelline battlements, the top of the heptagonal tower also had brackets and machicolations which helped to protect the castle by means of weapons such as fixed crossbows or arquebuses and firing arrows and throwing stones or incendiary material such as pitch. Despite the keep having loopholes for muskets and arquebuses, the lack of a scarp and the excessive height were a serious problem when artillery was introduced into warfare. Indeed, as the heptagonal tower was particularly tall and lacked any reinforcement, for enemies it was an easy target to destroy. Currently visitors can climb the keep and admire from twenty-five metres up the small village, the gentle landscape around and on days with no mist the turquoise Adriatic Sea.