Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sorrento's Secret

Some of our favorite sites while traveling are those that we've stumbled onto accidentally. The quirky locales known only to the locals that can't be found in any guidebooks. While wandering through Sorrento looking for pizza one evening (we'd been told to try Pizzeria Da Franco by our B&B owner) we were surprised to find such a site, a block off the main square and a few hundred feet below street level.

Reclaimed by nature, it's still possible to make out the rough shape of a building forgotten in the deep valley bottom while life continues only a hundred feet away. We were intrigued so, after snapping a few photos and filling our bellies with delicious pizza, we turned to the internet to answer some of our questions.




Unfortunately, as is often the case with the lesser known or forgotten sites, there wasn't a lot of information online and what we were able to find has become a bit muddled in the translation from Italian to English. It seems that at one time this moss covered building was a mill. Initially built in the 900's to grind wheat, a sawmill was eventually added for use by Sorrento cabinet makers, and finally a public wash house.

From what we can understand, the 'Old Mill' was eventually cut off from the sea by the creation of Tasso Square in 1866 and as a result humidity in the deep valley increased to an unbearable level. As a result, the site was abandoned. However this story has a happy ending as the valley bottom flora, including a rare breed of fern, now thrive in the new micro-climate.

Hoping for a better look, and some adventure, we tried to locate a way down into the valley but came up empty. From reports online, it seems the area is completely cut off from the streets above and therefore impossible to visit. Although we were a bit disappointed, perhaps it's best to leave the 'Old Mill' to nature and simply admire the site from above.

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Hey there!

Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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