Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Deep Valley of the Mills

We had a holiday in Italy in 2005 from the 17th March to the 18th of April where we had:

Week 1 = Sorrento: A train down to Sorrento on the southern part of Italy ... four hours from Rome. We saw by bus the Amalfi Coast and Ravello, saw the Isle of Capri for a day, Pompeii for a day and Naples for a day and then had several days looking around Sorrento. We were staying in a unit in the building up on a hill in the town of Sorrento. See the photos above of the unit in the cobbled driveway and the terracotta rooves we would look out on through the window of our unit.

Every day we would walk down and back to our unit and we would pass through a narrow section of the access road. The access road had a stone wall on the outer edge which you could look over. The outer edge fell as cliffs 150 metres ++ to a Y shaped valley below. In the bottom of the valley was small Y shaped stream and old stone building as a ruin with green foliage growing over the roof and up the cliff face in some areas. The building had a big stone chimney and had a real mystique and a sense of ancient history about it. Because we couldn't speak Italian, we couldn't ask anyone about it.

It was only when I home in May and I was looking up Sorrento websites on the Internet that I found one website with photos of this old ruined building. The valley was called 'The Valley of the Mills'.

In the historical centre of Sorrento, behind Tasso Square, it is possible to admire from above - in a suggestive perspective - a natural extraordinary spectacle: The Deep Valley of the Mills. The Deep Valley encircles on the south- east side, the tuffaceous rock of the present historical centre of Sorrento; observing it from above a characteristic rift of the rock is visible, that carves profoundly and transversely the tuffaceous platform.

This incisive rift originated from the vastest eruption which shook the Mediterranean many years ago. The potent eruption filled the entire calcareous valley with debris between Scutolo Point and the Cape of Sorrento; the waters which passed through the valleys - finding them clogged up with volcanic materials - searched for a new path towards the sea cutting progressively through the tuffaceous bank. The valleys became privileged places of the human's settlement.

The pre-historic cave of the Conca (Nicolucci Cave), on the uphill of the Valley of Large Seashore (Marina Grande) and the settlement of Gaudo in Piano of Sorrento, remain two tangible traces of this phenomenon. The Valley of the Mills is incised by two streams of water: Casarlano-Cesarano and Saint Antonino. The lack of water has contributed to form very narrow gorges, only in the point where the two streams of water meet the gorge widens and forms a vast area at the feet of the Villa "La Rupe".

The name Valley of the Mills, derives from the existence of a mill - functioning since the beginning of the '900's - used for grinding wheat. Attached to the mill, rose a sawmill which furnished chaff to the Sorrentine cabinet makers. Everything is completed by a public wash-house used by the women of the people. The creation of Tasso Square, since 1866, determined the isolation of the mill area from the sea, provoking a sharp rise of the percentage of humidity, which made the area unbearable and determined its progressive abandon. The new microclimate favoured the development of a thriving and spontaneous vegetation in which the dominant element is the Phillitis Vulgaris, a splendid and rare model belonging to the fern family. Today it is possible to have access to the remaining part of the Deep Valley crossing antique ramps engraved into the tuff with entrance from a trapdoor near the Stragazzi parking.

My suggestion: Equip yourself with binoculars and camera and observe from above the remains of the mill and the splendid savage vegetation. The best position is Fuorimura Street, behind Tasso Square.



Ketty said...

I have been to Sorrento, but I didn't see The valley of the mills. Next time I would really do visit.
Sorrento sightseeing

Felcy said...

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

Cabinet Makers

jish56 said...

I was taken by complete surprise by the valley of the mills and found it a haunting and intriguing vista - one which will remain in my memory among lots of other experiences while holidaying in Sorrento. Am trying to understand the geology aspect of it