Just a block from Piazza Tasso, the core of Sorrento, there is a hidden treasure, a deep valley full of history and mysteries. It's the Deep Valley of the Mills, a natural, breathtaking ravine right in the middle of Sorrento. If you don't know you are approaching it, it can shock you with its depth. Once you regain the courage to stand next to the railing, you look down into a deep, misty gorge with lots of moss and lush green, surrounding a beautiful scenario of ancient ruins, with a dilapidated and unused mill right in the bottom. Even if the abandoned buildings date back to the Middle Age, some ancient Greek and Roman walls and arches are visible at various points along the rim and down the cliffs of the ravine, and the overview looks almost prehistoric, with the proliferation of numerous plants, some considered rare or almost completely disappeared, as well as various forms of carnivorous plants.
The Deep Valley of the Mills was actually originated about 35 thousand years ago, when a violent eruption of Campi Flegrei covered the area between Punta Scutolo and Capo di Sorrento of debris.
Sorrento was originally crossed by three of these valleys, that were connected together at the time of Roman empire; in addition to the so-called Deep Valley of the Mills, which represented the core of this system, there were also two valleys, one ending at Marina Grande and another one on the hills of the city: the latter two valleys do not exist anymore, as they have been filled up to make way for roads and buildings. In the sixteenth century the area was owned by the Tasso family, (for whom the main square of Sorrento is named), and it later came under the control of the Correale family: It was one of the members of this family who in the seventeenth century built at the mouth of the valley a port, which is the current Marina Piccola, but that was once called Capo Cervo (Deer Head). In subsequent years, in the bottom of the valley, the Correale family built a mill, which, by exploiting the waters of the river, was used for grinding grain, a sawmill and a public laundry.
The ridges of the valley were also probably used as clay pits to find blocks for the construction of buildings in Sorrento and the caves that were formed were converted in wells to collect water. The Deep Valley of the Mills, despite being at the time a very poor area of Sorrento, however was subject, at that time, of reproductions of paintings by both Italian and foreign artists.
Sorrento was then linked to the rest of the coast by a narrow bridge that exceeded the valley. In 1866 it was decided to remove the bridge and replace it with Piazza Tasso, getting the space required for its implementation and filling the forge too. Therefore the Deep Valley of the Mills found itself divided in two: on one side, the outlet to the sea, occupied then by the road to the port, on the other side the small industrial complex, that ceased to operate in the early twentieth century, both for the lack of water, and for climatical reasons, as the total absence of wind and high humidity, due to the artificial barrier, made it impossible for any form of human life to survive.
You cannot go down in the valley, but the place is definitely worth seeing especially at night, when various colored lights shine on it, giving it a unique atmosphere. Even if it is lit up from below, the darkness makes it impossible to judge the depth of the valley, and the buildings below seem very mysterious when hardly visible.