Baia di Ieranto is located on the tip of the peninsula of Sorrento at the end of the Amalfi coast, right in front of the isle of Capri. The Bay offers the onlooker a landscape unique for its beauty, one of the most luxuriant stretches of the Italian coast with its strong and at times surprisingly intact nature. Sheer cliffs alternate with gently degrading mountain faces. But nature is not the only fascinating aspect of this place. Next to the undoubted aesthetic qualities of the nature and geomorphology of the site are the "signs" of the passage of man on these lands.
Rural activity is the earliest purpose of organic transformation of the natural environment of the bay. The layout of the land is deeply changed, it appears almost redesigned. The signs of ancient human impact are numerous today and are recognised in the presence of dry wall structures that support the terracing, the pathways made less impassable by coarse steps, the small rural buildings, shelters and temporary dwellings, the large rural dwelling that houses the old machinery for olive pressing, and the non-autochthonous plantations that have made up unique territorial contexts.
The entire Bay is also dominated by the sixteenth-century Torre di Montalto (Montalto Tower). The tower is important evidence of the coastal defensive system. It is part of the complex extended defensive and sentry works of the Kingdom of Naples.
A deep evident mark of the presence of man in the Bay is the industrial archaeological complex. It includes the complex agglomeration of buildings functional for man's mining activity, and the infrastructures necessary for the production and transportation of quarried material. All this is dominated by the massive open pit quarry which is so striking in its magnificence along the coast of the bay.
These elements make up an organic group of buildings that characterises the territory today, where the original natural features are integrated, are added up, and mix with the elements gradually introduced by man.
Since 1986, when Baia di Ieranto was donated to FAI by Italsider, one of the largest Italian public company belonging to IRI, the Italian Environmental Trust has started a policy of architectural and environmental recovery of the area, which today sees its final results. The recent protective restoration of the complex had the priority purpose of conserving the buildings and structures in their material and documental consistency. Centred on a logic of total conservation of the original characters of the complex, and rich in natural and anthropic resources, this policy has carried out actions aimed first at the environmental recovery of traditional anthropic cultures, of stretches of autochthonous flora and of the slope and the general quarry plan. It then started works to recover the ancient buildings, the large coastal tower, the rural rustic structures, and the industrial archaeology buildings. In this way the objective of a global recovery of the area was reached, corresponding to a general recovery of the historical memory of the activities that were carried out there. The naturalistic and production pathways that have been recovered and can be used today restore an important picture of the compenetration of naturalistic and anthropic aspects in the construction of such a characteristic cultural landscape.
The global project implemented by FAI in the Bay area, which derives from a regular cataloguing of all pre-existing elements on the site, proposes an enhancement aimed at recovery in terms of "integrated conservation", a conservation, that is, aimed at associating to the technologies of material conservation, the research and planning of new cultural functions that should guarantee the possibility of conserving all the evidence that makes up the historical memory of the local communities. The adopted choices are marked with the total respect of the important value of historical, archaeological, industrial archaeological and rural testimony of the compendium not detached from the respect and protection of naturalistic and landscape resources.
This intention is expressed in the first place through the implementation of a conservative process of the complex and of the architectural pre-existing elements in their material and historical authenticity. In the second place through the possibility of preparing it for fruition and making it visitable, by manifesting its value as a document and a museum, and providing the processes of the tools adapted to a more general fruition of the place. In particular, following the old pathways, the following itineraries have been proposed:
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