Punta Campanella: geology, myths and beauty
Punta Campanella, at the far end of the Sorrento Peninsula, is a protected natural area straddling the provinces of Salerno and Naples.
Architecture historian Cesare De Seta has noted it is the shape of a “sharp wedge”, “rocky, bare and scorched by the sun on its outermost tip, eroded by the salty air. The tallest part of the promontory is almost golden when the sun reaches the zenith, and pink at sunset: the same hues donned by the Sciliar in the Dolomites. And this is not just my own odd impression: the rocks here – so full of fissures, scaly and sharp – are geologically identical to those far-away tops.” The Dolomites and the Sorrento Peninsula both belong to a beautiful family, through relations that make places so physically distant seem close…
Going on in De Seta’s description:
“Down below, the promontory is beaten by the waves and has the gray color of ashes. Lower still – right on the water – it is as black as cuttlefish ink. There is a succession of small rocky cavities, and the sea – under the coast – is deep, and as dark as the night” (translated from C. De Seta, “L’arte del viaggio”, Rizzoli, Milan 2016).
Over 2,000 years ago, the Greeks built a temple dedicated to Athena at the top of the peninsula (hence the Roman toponym “Promontorium Minervae” for this area). Today, a Medieval tower – the Tower of Minerva, first constructed in the 14th century, and later rebuilt in the 16th – stands in its place.