Monday, 28 September 2015

The Devastation of Monte Vico Alvano

As I was on my way to Naples airport very early in the  morning some 10 days ago, I could see the flames lighting up the slopes of Monte Vico Alvano and my heart sank.
One of my favourite hikes is along the trail that loops up the mount and over to the Sella di Arola, and now it was burning , the  flames bright in the dark sky.
As you will have seen from my previous blogs, fires have been a scourge this summer. From all accounts, this one was caused not by the actions of some sick arsonist, but by a car catching fire on the Amalfi Coast road and the flames, fanned by the wind, rapidly spreading up the hill behind Tordigliano and over the top to the saddle and Monte Vico Alvano. Whilst there is no doubt as to how it started, there remains some doubt as to how it could have spread the way it did.
Giovanni Visetti went to inspect the damage on Saturday and whilst the path (part of the CAI300 Alta Via dei Monti Lattari), is clear and intact, the devastation  is vast, stretching along both sides of the path for over 3 kilometres with ash covering everything.  The only "happy" note is that  the fire was seemingly so rapid that the shrubs were badly scorched but not destroyed, so hopefully these will recover in a fairly short period of time.
Whilst Monte Vico Alvano was burning, other fires at various points along the Amalfi Coast  caused the road to be closed for hours and hours over one of the busiest weekends of the season. At one stage there was literally no way in or out.
Fortunately the situation has now improved, but genuine fear is that once it starts to rain,  rocks will start falling no longer having enough vegetation to hold them back.
Photos of the damage courtesy of Giovanni, photos pre- fire, mine.
More photos can be seen in  Giovanni Visetti's album.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Following the fire on 13th August which caused extensive damage to the slopes of Monte San Costanzo , Giovanni Visetti has had what he defines as a "mad idea, but not that mad", regarding the future of its pinewood which he expounds in his latest blog.

The pinewood was planted in the middle of last century and covers about 13 hectares of the upper, southern slopes of the mount, stretching down from the ridge for about 200 metres. At the same time, a series of dry-stone walls was also built, creating numerous narrow terraces linked to one another by long horizontal (and therefore flat) paths in zig-zags, making going up or downhill as painless as possible. These trails are still evident but very few people have actually walked them and even fewer continue to frequent them.
Giovanni is one of the exceptions, especially when coming up from Nerano along the CAI300, since it is a good way of getting to the path leading to Campo Vetavole without having to take the steep and sunny route to the eastern edge of the wood.

Following his recent forages into the woods to monitor the damage done by the fire, Giovanni had one of his light-bulb moments: why not try to reap some good from this unfortunate event? This is his proposal:

  • clean and mark the trails of the pinewood in order to allow easy walks,
  • trace and map them with the idea of proposing a circular route,
  • facilitate access to the area in case of emergencies,
  • create a shortcut for the CAI300 trail,
  • make panoramic viewpoints and/or places for meditation easily accessible and put benches there (for example in stone). 
  • it goes without saying that barbecue areas are out of the question!
He concludes his blog with another idea, this one regarding the perpetrators of the fire which on all accounts was not in the slightest deliberate but a very unfortunate accident caused by imprudence and irresponsibility. Since it seems that the individuals involved are  more than contrite, why not suggest that they help voluntarily with the restoration of these footpaths and other necessary non-skilled jobs,  all under the direction and supervision of the municipal staff and the Forest Services?

These don't seem such mad ideas to me!