Sorrento is a beautiful town perched on a cliff high above the sea with views of Vesuvius and the islands in the Bay of Naples . Use this website to help you plan a visit to this elegant southern Italian resort and find your way to the best beaches and some lovely villages and towns along the Sorrentine peninsula that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Valley of the Mills

 Rare ferns now cover area that used to be full of life


Sorrento has many surprises and amazing sights, but the unusual Vallone dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills), only a short walk away from the main square, Piazza Tasso, has been captivating artists and photographers for more than 100 years. 

If you leave Piazza Tasso and walk up Via Fuorimura, past the bars and restaurants on either side, you will come to a deep gorge, close to the Hotel Plaza, that you can view from the road above. 
Ruins of the old mill

The Valley of the Mills is an astonishing, natural phenomenon caused by a volcanic eruption about 35,000 years ago.

The valley gets its name from an ancient wheat mill that once provided the entire area with its wheat requirements and was still working in the early 1900s. You can see the ruins of the mill, now partially covered with vegetation.

Because many artists have painted pictures of the abandoned valley and photographers have captured it from every angle it is known what it would have looked like in the last century.

The springs and stream that fed into the valley also worked a saw mill that provided artisans and carpenters with cherry, walnut and olive wood to work on.

Local woman would bring their laundry to wash in the public wash tubs there and the valley was once full of life, as can be seen in some of the old paintings.

Valley seen from the road above
When Piazza Tasso was built in 1866 the valley was cut off from Marina Piccola, which it used to join up with, and was gradually abandoned by people. The only access to the valley now is through an old gate.

Blocking the valley’s access to the sea has created a humid microclimate in which plants have thrived, in particular a rare type of fern.


The atmospheric ruins and the lush vegetation seen from above now provide unusual holiday photographs for visitors to take back with them.

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