Monday, 10 July 2017

FAITO - a never ending saga

A few weeks ago, we went to Faito for our Sunday hike. It was exactly a year since our previous visit, but this time we had to drive up the long, twisting and ultimately  pot-holed road, rather than take the cable car from Castellammare di Stabia. 
Faito has not had the best fortune over the years and the sporadic closures of the Funivia  certainly haven't helped. Inaugurated in 1952, the cable car became the quickest (8 minutes) and most convenient way to reach the cool and shady woods of Faito. The area blossomed, becoming a popular summer resort for families wanting to escape the intense heat of the cities. 
In 1988 the cable car ground to a halt for two years, and then 
in August 1996, a three year old girl disappeared in the woods, never to be found again. There have been many theories as to what may have happened, but Faito quickly fell out of fashion,  the summer houses were left empty and the whole place took on an air of decay and neglect. It was no longer considered safe and there was also talk of it being a hide-out for people on the run.
However time is a healer, and over the past few years the place was gradually returning to life, becoming a popular destination for hikers, cyclists and picnic makers, especially during the hotter summer months. The cable car was an added attraction, not only saving a tedious car or bus journey, but an experience in itself as it shuddered and bumped its way to the top,  offering amazing views of Castellamare, Vesuvius and the plain of Naples far below . Then in 2012, it closed again for major maintenance work and we were back to square one.
Four years later, on 4th May 2016,  accompanied by the fanfares of local politicians proclaiming the rebirth of Faito, it re-opened. The few local businesses that had survived the interim years thought that their problems were over. False hopes unfortunately, since the 2016 opening was just putting off the inevitable. Further urgent intervention was essential to bring it up to the requirements of present-day legislation. Why this wasn't done the first time round, who knows?It is not for us to wonder why.
So work began once again in January of this year, but as is often the case, there were further complications which led to the original projects having to be modified, new authorizations needed and everything being delayed.
I had occasion to go to Castellammare on the train at the beginning of June, and the lower cable car station looked like a war zone. When we were up in Faito the other week, the top station was enclosed in scaffolding and looking little better.
It was meant to be ready for May, then they said July. The latest news suggests that it may be ready for mid August, but who knows and in any case yet another year has been compromised . This is a real shame. Faito is not only a hiker's paradise with its network of trails, its spectacular views and  its magnificently cool woods, but an ideal place to take the family for a picnic or out for lunch, leaving the heaving, seething beaches behind. And so much more enjoyable by Funivia!

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