La Baia di Ieranto
Massa Lubrense, near Naples
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Tel. (0039)335 8410253 - (0039) 330 607282
Donation by Italsider, 1986
Free-of-charge, unrestrained access to the paths.
Guided tours are not available from 7 to 31 January.
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The breath of the sirens
Legend has it that the Sirens built their home right there, in the grotto carved out of the rock along the southern coast of the Sorrento peninsula. Confirmation of the legend's veracity comes not only from the beauty of the crystal-clear water lapping the grotto but also from the fact that to this day, if you're lucky, you can hear the echo of the Sirens' song resonating to the rhythm of the backwash. But, in truth, legend seems to envelop every corner of the Bay of Ieranto (in Massa Lubrense, in the province of Naples), a place of untainted beauty situated opposite the sea stacks of Capri. Stretching out across 47 hectares, with a coastline measuring around 3 kilometres in length, the area affords unforgettable views that encompass reefs, beaches and massive rocky undulations covered in Mediterranean scrub and olive trees.
A sacred place where hawks dare
There are two possible origins of the name “Ieranto”. There are those who are convinced that it derives from the Greek “ierax”, denoting the hawks that still nest in the area; whereas others maintain that the name comes from another Greek word, “ieros” meaning sacred – a reference, they claim, to the bay itself as the site of the temple of the Sirens, which then became the temple of Athena in Roman times.
That little path between two opposing giants
The Bay of Ieranto, which is part of the Punta Campanella Marine Protected Area, is split into two parts: the large bay (“Baia Grande”) and the small bay (“Baia Piccola”), separated by Punta Capitello. In its entirety, the bay extends from the promontory of Punta Campanella – which divides the Gulf of Naples from the Gulf of Salerno, its sheer cliffs plunging into the sea opposite Capri – and the promontory of Montalto, the summit of which plays host to the 16th-century Torre di Montalto. The tower, which FAI was given permission to use by Renato and Isabella De Angelis and has since restored, formed part of the system designed to defend the coast from Saracen attacks. As you walk along the path that leads from the small village of Nerano, you have the option to proceed towards the tower, head down to the wonderful beach or visit the ancient rural buildings and quarry buildings restored by FAI, which face out to sea.