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Sunday, 18 September 2016

CAPO DI SORRENTO - I BAGNI DI REGINA GIOVANNA (Queen Joanna's Baths)


I Bagni di Regina Giovanna (Queen Joanna's Baths) are  a short walk down a narrow lane  from Capo di Sorrento, just outside town. During the 14th century this is apparently the place where the queen  came to bathe with her young lovers in the tiny natural cove with its picturesque natural arch.  It is also one of the most important historical sites in the area, housing the remains of a  Roman patrician's villa. This was divided into two zones: the villa right on the seafront , and the domus a little further up the hill, at the time connected  by steps, stairs and cultivated terraces, and extending over an area of around thirty thousand square metres. Unfortunately at present it is in a state of total abandon.
In the summer, thanks to the limestone rocks stretching out to sea and to the construction of a wooden ramp leading to popular bathing platforms to one side of the promontory, the place is taken by assault. Despite the ban on motorized vehicles, the lane is a fast track for mopeds and motorbikes who impatiently hoot and swerve round unsuspecting pedestrians and fill the air with fumes. When they can go no further, they park with gay abandon and very few seem to take their rubbish home with them. Although there have been many complaints to the local authorities, nothing has ever been done about it.
Once the summer ends, peace returns and, if you care to go, you will discover a place which, although neglected and in dire need of some tender love and care, is unique and rather special.
Its grassy plateau offers spectacular views of the town of Sorrento perched on its cliffs with the hills behind. If you explore below, you can still see the original Roman constructions, even though at present the walls are covered in graffiti and you need to watch where you put your feet.
Now, at long last,  it seems that  the situation may change. The local council of Sorrento (who owns most of this land) intends transforming the area into a "Parco Agricolo Archeologico" extending over roughly 56,600 square metres. The total cost of the work involved is quoted as exceeding 3.000.000 euro. The authorities have applied for funding from the regional government.
Being fully aware of the snail-like pace of Italian bureaucracy and the probability of procedures being further slowed down by the intervention and possible protests of environmentalists and others who often find something to object to, I am sceptical that the necessary work will be imminent. It will probably take years and years, should it ever happen at all, but at least there is talk about it.
Meantime,  surely it wouldn't cost too much to clean the place up on a regular basis and maybe install some information boards (as they have along the path to Punta Campanella)? And what about finally doing something about the summer invasion of people who have no respect for regulations and can't be bothered to use their legs? Wishful thinking? I hope not.







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