Piazza Ercole is located in the center of Tropea old town (1). It joins in axis N-S with the main street and with the other streets that once led to the two ancient gates of the city: Via Roma, oriented to the east towards Largo Duomo, where there was the Porta di Mare (“See Gate”) and Via Indipendenza, facing west towards the Belvedere del Largo Villetta del Cannone, where there was the Porta Vaticana. The square was named in honor of Hercules (in Greek Heracles), the mythical hero who was said to have founded Tropea (2).
The old tradition, which refers to the sources of Strabo, Pliny the Elder and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, linked the mythical foundation of Tropea to the most famous hero of classicism. According to this tradition, the demigod passed through the Calabrian shores and decided to stop and have a rest after his twelve labours and the defeat of the giants. From this connection with the mythical hero historians and geographers gave to this stretch of coast its old name that: Forum Herculis, Hercules’ harbour (3).
THE OLD COUNCIL SEAT
The Old Council Seat (Antico Sedile dei Nobili or di Portercole) stands in front of Piazza Ercole (4). Built in 1703 on the site of the ancient Regia Bagliva (Norman-Swabian administrative palace), this Seat was the centre of the administrative life in Tropea and in the neighboring territory. Today it belongs to the Tropea municipality and the ground floor hosts the headquarters of the Pro Loco, while in the upper floor, that opens onto the beautiful porch, there is a photo exhibition dedicated to the famous local actor Raf Vallone. On the ground floor, the granite cladding with niches once housed fountains in the shape of puttos (5).
The ancient marble coat of arms of the Seat of Portercole (6) is clearly visible under the clock (added in 1892). On the left we can see the Nemean lion (Hercules’ first labour), on the right the Hydra of Lerna, another creature defeated during the twelve labours, in the centre an additional lion crowned in heraldic position while holding a club (Hercules’ weapon). Finally, the Aragonese crown is around the coat of arms of the city, with an Arab phoenix rising from the flames – a sign that stands for Tropea’s vocation to rise up from earthquakes, fires, sieges and plagues. It also carries a ribbon with the inscription: Renovant Incendia Nidos – fires renew the nests (7).
Pasquale Galluppi (Tropea, 2 April 1770 - Naples, 13 December 1846), Baron of Cirella (Sicily) and patrician of Tropea, gave prestige to his family and to Tropea through his philosophical merits (8). From the age of thirteen he attended the elementary philosophy class at the bishop’s seminary of Santa Lucia del Mela; at the age of eighteen he was sent to Naples to study law, but he preferred to study theology. In 1794 he married Barbara d'Aquino and they had fourteen children: eight boys and six girls. In 1807 he published Sull'analisi e la sintesi (On analysis and synthesis); during the uprisings of 1820 he joined the liberal cause, supporting the constitutional reform of the State and protesting against the repressive intervention of the Austrians; then he moved back to the Bourbons. From 1831 he was professor of logic and metaphysics at the University of Naples; he was a member of the Academies Sebezia and Pontaniana of Naples, of the Affaticati of Tropea, of the Crotalo of Catanzaro, of the Florimontana of Monteleone (today Vibo Valentia) and of the Accademia Cosentina; his greatest merit was that of having introduced in Italy the study of European philosophy, in particular the Kantian; the Philosophical Letters were the first Italian essay on the history of modern philosophy.
His merits gave him great honours, including the decoration of the Legion of Honour conferred on him by King Louis-Philippe of France and that of Francis I of Austria. In 1883 a marble monument (9) was erected in Tropea in honour of Pasquale Galluppi with the epigraph:
who awakened the philosophical activity and the study of human consciousness
in Italy, that resurrected through life of thought
to the life of a nation
The grateful homeland
(Augusto Conte 1885)
Other buildings dedicated to Pasquale Galluppi are the National Boarding School and the High School of Catanzaro and the High School of Tropea.