7/08/2010

Baia di Ieranto

Nobody seemed to know about this place in Naples. Or Sorrento for that matter. It wasn't until I'd reached Nerano, a tiny seaside village on the top of Capo di Sorrento, a long, mountainous peninsula jutting off the bay south of Naples, that I founds someone to point out the way. The Baia di Ieranto was the only reason I'd even come this far south. I'd happened into a photo a few weeks before: an empty stretch of white sand surrounded by sheer cliffs of limestone and turquoise water. Just off the coast from here, on the island of Capri, was where Odysseus came across his mythical Sirens. Seeing as Capri is now an overpriced tourist trap and a playground for people much richer than me, I imagined I'd see more of the Iliad in Ieranto.

True to the chance-found google image, the bay was spectacular. An hour along the abandoned trail from Nerano, its jagged, white, cave-ridden cliffs rose into view, wrapping for miles up the peninsula. After a side trip to a desolate old Neopolitan fort perched on a cliff edge, I wandered down the mountain side, not a person in sight. A few minutes below the fort I stumbled into a grove of some kind. An old, red and wrinkly man was pacing the porch of a tiny cottage buried in trees, leaning back on the leash of his barking guard dog. Noticing me, he shouted unfriendly things in my direction and I took the hint, backtracking up the hill. Further along, I dove back into the bush, taking a wide detour down to the coast.

When I arrived at the beach I wasn't quite alone. Around fifty young monks had chosen this day to get some much-needed vitamin D and sing hymns, all rejoicing on an old abandoned concrete jetty. Row row row your boat was sung in rounds, compounding the joy. They were having a blast in their matching shirts, bags and silly wide brimmed hats. Occasionally one would hurl himself off the high ledge and the others would clap. I didn't know monks were allowed beach days (I certainly wasn't as privileged in my own monastic years). A handful of windsurfers were also scattered across the enormous bay. Aside from the old fort, some overgrown Roman and Greek ruins, the angry red man's vineyard and an old wrecked dynamite station, the peninsula was all wilderness, something hard to come by along Campania's glitzy coast. And after a month between the still more overdeveloped Ligurian coast, it was a refreshing change. With nothing else to do, I gave a nod to my new clerical friends, found a suitable cliff and launched into the water.

My drinking water ran out later that afternoon. With nothing on offer on the bay side of the mountain, I decided it was time to start back to Nerano. I was exhausted when I reached town, but satisfied with having made it to Ieranto. Although I'd have preferred sirens over monks.


1 comment:

Shery said...

It depends on what kind of beaches and what they do there;-). After the English camp, this is my second fav. post. Well done, Joe