Magic Schiacchetiello

La magia dello Schiacchetiello

A thin arm stretched out over the Tyrrhenian Sea. A tapered strip of land that leads us to a tuff hill overlooking the sea. Miseno is like an island, even if it is connected to the mainland by a small road dotted with small harbors and shores.

We are in the heart of the Phlegraean Fields, a volcanic area rich in history and legends, a place of mythologies and breathtaking landscapes. Just where Miseno crosses the center of Bacoli, a steep climb brings you up to the Piscina Mirabilis, a grandiose Roman water cistern, today a symbol of the place. Leaving the entrance behind you, you walk along a small path, then you turn towards a narrow alley that seems to end up in a place where there is nothing. Instead, a few steps further, the eyes discover the sea.

The inlet appears almost sudden, stuck as it is between the tuff walls of the coast. We are on the so-called "Schiacchetiello", a cliff that gives us one of the most hidden and little-known glimpses of a land rooted in the myths of Ancient Greece. In front of us emerges the islet of Punta Pennata, born after the bradyseism of 1966.

From the steep road you go directly to the rocks. At Schiacchetiello there is no sand. The islet of Punta Pennata is the closest point for the gaze. It is surrounded by the profile of Miseno, Monte di Procida, Miliscola and the waters that separate us from the islands of Procida and Ischia. The scents are the intense ones of the Mediterranean scrub; on the tuff walls you can see wormwood bushes. Even in the middle of winter, it seems to breathe the smells of spring.

«You stay just five minutes here. And then it will seem strange to go home». To speak, with a typical local accent, is a lady with a shopping bag. «For grocery shopping – she continues – we don’t go to the supermarket. There is a butcher, in the alley on the right; a shop where I take the things I need for home, further down; and stop. Here we are on an island, and we like it like that».

It is not difficult to believe the lady’s words. The impression is that of a place out of time a stone's throw from the daily routine. The Phlegrean Fields combine the daily dimension with the legendary one. This is the feeling you bring with you, because here nothing is common: behind what might seem a small street like many others, surrounded by courtyards and two-storey houses, a landscape that embraces a thousand routes, from Vesuvius to Lattari mountains, from the islands to Posillipo, suddenly opens to your eyes.

Among rocks, inlets and tufts of spontaneous plants, we are far from chaos. From the rocks on which it is possible to walk quite easily, one bends down to touch the sea water: as cold as only clear waters can be. The Schiacchetiello is a small nature reserve hidden in the ravines of the Gulf of Naples. One of its pearls.