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The Valley of Mills

Itineraries of the historical centre in Sorrento

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 Valley of the Mills.The Valley encircles on the southeast side, the tuffaceous block of the present historical centre of Sorrento; observing it from above a characteristic rift of the rock is visible, that carves profound and transversely the platform. This incisive rift has originated from the vastest eruption which shook the Mediterranean about 35,000 years ago.

The potent eruption filled the entire calcareous valley with debris between Punta Scutolo and the Capo 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 volcanic 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 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 at the point where the two streams of water meet the gorge widens and forms a vast area at the foot of “La Rupe” Villa.

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

Concetta Caccaviello is not responsible for any changes to the visited venues.

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