Sorrento is a gorgeous coastal town in the south-west of Italy, synonymous with citrus groves, dramatic cliffs and deep valleys. Overlooking the Bay of Naples, Sorrento also serves as a gateway to the historical ruins of Pompeii in one direction and the stunning Amalfi Coast towards the west. It is also where you’ll find another historical, albeit lesser known site, known as Il Vallone dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills).
Just a short walk away from the busy town of Sorrento, the valley is home to abandoned buildings which were once flour mills until they were abandoned in the 1940s. Today Mother Nature has reclaimed the Il Vallone dei Mulini and the stone buildings, which are said to date back from the 13th century, and there grows an abundance of grass, ferns and rare plants in all its grace, glory and grandiose.
Il Vallone dei Mulini can be marvelled at from a viewing point located behind the Piazza Tasso and accessible through a small gate that connects the nearby Piazza Sant’Antonio with the city port. Here visitors can view the heavily vegetated valley from above, peering down at this natural work of art.
The valley itself, which takes its name from the historic mills located in the centre, is a deep mountain cleft that dates from a volcanic eruption around 35,000 years ago. Sorrento was initially composed of three large valleys connected to each other, and today Il Vallone dei Mulini is the only one that remains.
In the early 1800s, Sorrento was connected to the remaining part of the coast by a narrow bridge, which allowed the crossing of the valley. Institutions decided to break down the bridge and replace it with a large square in 1866, and Il Vallone dei Mulini was inevitably divided into two parts: on one side it led to the sea, and on the other there was a small industrial district which stopped operating in 1900. Within the Valley itself there is no ventilation and the humidity levels continuously exceeds 80%, hence why the area is no longer fit for living. This has enabled the lush green plants, many of which are rare, to reclaim the area and cloak it in natural beauty.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com