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canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Valle delle Ferriere

The Amalfi Coast is among the most famous places in Italy, but at the same time is among the less known ones. This paradox is due to the strangeness of this unique place. It was a truly hard place to live but it was always densely populated. Villages, homes and terrace fields rise in unbelievable corners. There are very few roads, so most places can be reached only on foot, after a hard ascent on long stairway paths, or rocky trails. And many many tourists come here, all to see the cathedral of Amalfi, the alleys of Positano, the coast and nothing else. So one kilometer away from the coast all becomes silent and solitary and unknown to tourism.
And here woods are impenetrable jungles amidst huge rock walls, and lush streams fall down hidden cascades and canyons.

In Amalfi Coast the only good places to build a village are the small flats made by streams where they reach the sea. But these flats are so small that they cannot contain the whole village as it grows, and so the village is forced to occupy also the steep rocky sides of the valley. When sides have no more space for houses people start to make buildings above the stream, enclosing it in a tunnel. And when more space is needed, buildings are made above the alleys, thus making arches and galleries.

So was born the amazing village of Amalfi. When visiting it you might not realize to be in the valley of a hill-stream, because you can't see any stream. But if you cross the whole village in the only possible direction (i.e. to the mountain), at the end stream will appear from under the village, and you see now the gorge where it flows, the majestic Valle delle Feriere. For many centuries the stream gave its energy to the famous paper-mills of Amalfi and to the foundries from which the valley took its name (ferriere = iron foundries).

Above, going on to the mountain, the Ferriere Valley becomes a canyon where water falls down heavy and dangerous.

Name Valle delle Ferriere
Area Campania, Costiera Amalfitana
Nearest village Scala (Salerno)
Entrance altitude (above sea level) 450 m
Exit altitude (above sea level) 300 m
Length 700 m
Longest rappel 45 m
Rock Limestone
Shuttle No
Explored by Michele Angileri, Andrea Pucci; june 25 2006


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I remember ...

At spring 2006 Andrea Pucci and I began exploring the mountains and canyons of Amalfi Coast. As hiking and explorations were going on we were realizing how unique was that place. Every trip, every descent showed us unexpected things. We were amazed by the things we were discovering time after time.
In those days Andrea wrote this note, showing the emotions crossing our minds.

A few reflections on Monti Lattari

by Andrea Pucci

It rarely happens to discover new canyons in an area unknown to canyoneers. The surprise grows when you see it not happening in a far and wild corner of planet Earth, but in the mountains of Amalfi Coast, face to the sea.

The biggest difficulties are in the accesses: there are few paths, with important differences in height. More than a hundred meters of ropes are needed (once it prooved not to be enough), hammer-drill, anchors, ascenders, ... Backpacks are often too heavy for two wise guys, but clearly exploring is for idiots! that's why our "smart" friends tell us: an unknown canyon to explore? great! go and tell us if it's worth, how many rappels, how much rope, water, ...
They know sometimes the canyon is not as beauty as you imagined (though sometimes it is much more beautiful than they can imagine). A few times the canyon is not worth. Sometimes you can't even get into the canyon, because the bushes spit you back (it happened in Amalfi Coast).

To explore a canyon you need more than idiocy: need to be a team, to trust in your partner, because you will put your life in his hands, and he will do the same with you. There's unknown danger in an unknown canyon: a mistake might be fatal. The waterfall which disappears rumbling down might kill you. Once you are safe at the bottom you will say: no, it wasn't so dangerous, but at the time you were on top it was, really.
So each manoeuvre has to be well pondered, this is not the place for those who scorn danger. This is the moment to weigh each detail. Maximum prudence, not any superficiality.

What pushes you into exploration doesn't come from outside. You do it not for glory or pride, not to tell your son "I did it! it was me!". It comes from inside. You challenge yourself. You are a young rebel escaping from the marsh that hosts the people who waits sunday for football matches on TV.

Photographs in this website show ultralight ropes (6 mm ropes made of high tenacity fibers). Read multimedia book Ultralight ropes canyoning technique to learn how to use them.

Copyright © 2002- Michele Angileri. All rights reserved.