Trekking on the Amalfi Coast: Punta Campanella 1
Place of departure: Nerano Place of arrival: Nerano Walking time: about 4 hours Distance: about 3.5 miles Degree of difficulty: easy
The Bay of Ieranto (or Jeranto) is a Natural Reserve of about 100 acres on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula, righ at the beginning of the Amalfi Coast.
It was part of an old quarry that ceased activities in 1952 (you will see remains of structures devoted to mining activities, such as cranes, storage areas, workshops and tanks).
In 1986 the quarry was donated to the Italian Environment Fund (FAI) and since then the area has become the Marine Protected Area of Punta Campanella. The name comes from an ancient watch tower with a bell that was rung to warn the local population of the approach of suspicious ships.
The path (indicated as CAI 373 on the map) starts from Nerano, a small town between Sorrento and Positano.
Take the road leading to Marina del Cantone (via A. Vespucci) and on the right, a few meters past the square, you will see via Jeranto, a road on a slight slope.
You will see the expansive view of the coast, with the islets of Li Galli, formerly called Sirenuse, because legend says that they were inhabited by sirens.
The road skirts the entrance to Villa Rosa, or Casa Silentium, where at the beginning of the ninenteenth century writer Norman Douglas began to write his book, Siren Land.
Looking down you can see the Bay of Cantone, with a wide sandy beach behind which lies a small fishing village.
The path then starts to go down, entering into increasingly dense vegetation, with terraced olive groves on the slopes of the mountains.
The descent, along the slopes of Mount Costanzo, gets a little steeper when, between dry stone walls and wild fig trees, it opens to a view of the beach of the Mortella (accessible only by sea). You also see the promontory of Mont'Alto, the entire stretch of sea between Punta Campanella to Punta Penna, with Capri and its Faraglioni in the background.
When you reach a fork in the road, you have a choice.
The dirt road on the left, after a short downhill part, takes you to the Tower of Mont'Alto. Built in the sixteenth century, it was part of the coastal defense system dating from the period of the viceroy of Naples.
On the right, the path descends toward the sea and the Bay of Ieranto along old steps that lead to the old quarry.
The Bay of Ieranto is the most pristine stretch of coastline between Sorrento and Amalfi. It develops through about three miles of shore, in many cases inaccessible from the ground.
Inhabited since the dawn of time, mentioned by classical writers as a place of worship, the Bay has a succession of caves.
One is the Salara Cave, named for the salt deposits that would form from puddles by the sea.
The largest cave is the Zenzinada Cave, also known as the Cave of the Nativity, which penetrates more than 20 meters into the rock.
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