Santa Maria al Bagno is a beautiful seaside resort in the middle of the fabulous bay that extends from Gallipoli to Santa Caterina (to separate the two places there is only a small promontory “Punta dell’Aspide”). In the Middle Ages it was defended by the superb Torre del Fiume. Today the only remains of the tower are four massive pillars only, called “The Four Columns.” The town was founded as a small fishing village and as a shelter for ships from the stormy sea. In the Middle Ages it was abandoned to the most complete degradation, it was repeatedly plundered by pirates and Saracens. Particular damage was procured by the Venetians after the fall of Gallipoli (1484).
It rises in a setting characterised by alternating recesses and protrusions, sharp points and gentle hills, woods and pine forests. The coast is low and it is comfortable accessing the sea; For beach lovers, just move to the center of the town where there is a beach of fine sand. Near the tower is a source of fresh water, also known by pirates often attacking the area to refuel their water supply. Charles V decided therefore to protect the source erecting the famous tower.
The tower had a truncated pyramidal structure with a square base with pentagonal corner bastions and a height of 16 meters. At the top there was a string course with brackets. The central part collapsed, probably not long after its construction, either after enemy attacks or telluric phenomena. Today there are four corner bastions: that’s why the tower is also called the “four columns”.