The Ferriere Valley
When we talk about Amalfi we immediately think of the Duomo, the sea and the beaches. Yet there is another attraction that is less known but no less interesting. We are talking about the Valle delle Ferriere, a natural area of great interest from a botanical and phytogeographical point of view. Today it is a tourist attraction but in the past it was a very productive place. Its name in fact derives from the presence of the ancient ironworks of the Amalfi Republic, now reduced to ruins and totally surrounded by vegetation.
It is a deep valley that starts in the mountains of Scala and ends, six kilometers further downstream, in the territory of Amalfi. It became a nature reserve in 1972 and is crossed by the Canneto river, which forms spectacular waterfalls and true corners of paradise. Thanks to its position, it has preserved its subtropical microclimate unchanged over time, typical of countries with heavy rainfall such as in South-East Asia. Plant species from distant eras have thus been able to survive in this extraordinary environment. Among the plants present are: Woodwardia radicans, an arboreal fern dating back to the Cenozoic Era; and Pinguicula hirtiflora, an extremely rare carnivorous plant that feeds on small insects. It is also possible to admire various animal species such as the spectacled salamander, the Italian newt, the slow worm, the vole, the fox, the badger, the wild boar, the hare and the Italian frog (one of the major attractions for children visiting to the valley).
There are two official paths to visit the Ferriere Valley: one starts from the village of Pontone, a small hamlet of Scala; and the other from Amalfi. Whatever itinerary you choose, don’t miss the Amalfi Paper Museum, a small jewel of industrial architecture housed in an ancient paper mill dating back to the 13th century. Inside you can admire centuries-old machinery such as the ancient wooden hammers and the Dutch machine installed in the 18th century.
The route starting from Pontone (path 323a CAI) begins in Piazza San Giovanni, easily reachable by car or by SITA bus. Behind the fountain in the square, take a small road that crosses the village towards the west. After just 200 meters continue along the same path downhill, until you cross the driveway. You then continue to the right until you reach the dirt road which in just over 45 minutes allows you to reach the Rudere della Ferriera, where the route ends at the intersection with path 325.
The route starting from Amalfi (CAI path 325) begins in Piazza Flavio Gioia, reachable by car or by SITA bus. This itinerary allows you to visit both the city of Amalfi and the most significant area of the valley. From the square after a few meters you reach the Porta della Marina, after which you enter Piazza Duomo, where the famous Cathedral of Sant’Andrea stands. Go north along the main street of Amalfi as well as the first stretch of the Valle dei Mulini until you reach the Paper Museum. From the museum, proceed to the right and, after a few metres, take the staircase on the left which leads to the area of the old paper mills. You then continue along the path that runs alongside the Canneto and, after crossing the stream, you climb up to an altitude of 288 metres, where you come across the Aqueduct.