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canyon exploring with Michele Angileri

Vallone Porto

The dolomite wall of Monte S. Angelo ai Tre Pizzi dominates the rocks where rise Positano and its satellite villages Montepertuso and Nocelle. The rocky mountain and the sea blend together generating an extraordinary and hard landscape made of white rock, green mediterranean bush an blue water. Still in such a hostile environment Man made villages and terrace fields. Paths joining them pass on ledges between huge walls, and climb the steep mountainsides with the longest stairsteps I've ever seen.

The steep canyon of Vallone Porto opens here. It begins below the tops of Monte S. Angelo, and immediately it becomes a tight dark narrows between walls rising up to 200-250 meters from canyon's bottom, where you find a continuos sequence of cascades the highest of which is 75 meters. Canyon of Porto drops 730 m vertical in a 1400 m length. Then comes the place known as Il Porto: a wide canyon not so steep covered by a lush forest.

Vallone Porto is among the most interesting canyoning trails in Europe. Now that all cascades are bolted it can be covered in one day. A comfortable exit path exists at its half, so you may do only one half of it if you like.
Moreover, upper Porto is dry. Water springs at its half, but it's taken by an aqueduct, so very few water flows in lower Porto. Lack of waterflow makes it easier going through the canyon.

Name Vallone Porto
Area Campania, Costiera Amalfitana
Nearest village Positano
Entrance altitude (above sea level) 900 m
Exit altitude (above sea level) 80 m
Length 1800 m
Longest rappel 75 m
Rock Limestone
Shuttle Possible; not indispensable
Explored by M. Amoroso, E. Zezza, E. Barella, S. De Cicco, A. Romano, A. Esposito: 1991-1992
Re-explored and re-bolted by Michele Angileri and Andrea Pucci in september 27th and december 7th 2009


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I remember ...

Canyon of Vallone Porto was explored by a team of cavers from Napoli, in the early nineties. We found their bolts into the canyon: all were rusted and we couldn't use any of them.
Discovered, explored then forgotten ... A strange destiny for one of the greatest and most interesting canyons in Italy.

Moreover, we realized that other people had been through lower canyon, even before those cavers. In 1975, or so, a pipeline was placed through lower canyon, for bringing water from Porto springs down to Positano. Pipeline was anchored on bars of steel hammered into walls' holes.
To place the pipe it was necessary to make paths to arrive as near as possible to canyon's bottom. Then it was needed to install long ladders of steel, down to canyon's bed. Steel ladders were used also to go down canyon's cascades.
I don't know if pipeline was ever completed or if it stopped at the top of highest cascade (I cannot imagine people placing a steel ladder on such a pit!!). However, it didn't survive next flood. Today we can see pieces of pipe and of ladders spread through the canyon, and the bars of steel that supported the pipeline. You can see them in photographs 20 and 27.

Narrows end in the place local people call il Porto. It is a wide and steep valley covered by a forest, enclosed by big rock walls 200 meters tall. Il Porto is still free from urbanization thanks to the work of two painters that 40 years ago chose to live here, in a little house with no electric light and sewerage: Vali Myers and Gianni Menichetti. In the wild environment of Porto, surrounded by impassable and huge walls, they found inspiration for their paintings, and they found also the serenity. That place has a natural defense against modern life and society.
So they oppose to everything that could have perturbed and even destroyed Porto's environment: roads, buildings, dams, ... At the same time they make people know about the beauty of the Porto.

At present the Porto is protected by WWF. In year 2000 European Union proclaimed it a "site of Community importance".

Photos by Michele Angileri e Andrea Pucci

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.