Naples:life,death & Miraclecontact: Jeff Matthews


main index   © Jeff Matthews  entry June 2003

Everything is related to Naples
Number 99 in this series.  Link to all items here.

The Fjord of Furore


Yes, even fjords!—but it's not really a fjord, though that's what they call it. In any event, as a tree-hugging ecophile, I am happy to see that they are attempting to restore this remarkable bit of terrain on the Amalfi coast. Near the town of Amalfi on the coast is the town of Furore, the wrathful name supposedly coming from the angry sound of the waves during nighttime storms. The town itself was founded by Romans fleeing the Barbarian invasions and presides over a geological oddity—a long, deep split in the coastal mountain range. The split was caused by tectonic movement; thus, it isn't really a fjord (which, by definition, is a geological feature gouged in the landscape by the weight of retreating glaciers). There is a river, the Schiato, flowing (at least when winter feeds the riverbed) into the sea, and the sea, itself, washes up into the mouth of the river (bottom of photo), so the effect is somewhat of a hybrid fjord and ravine.

For centuries, inhabitants used the fjord as a fishing harbor and, indeed, the small "fishing village" (really a series of sheds for storing nets and such, on left in photo) is one of the items that have been restored since the 1980s. The other item is an early 19th-century mill. It is a four-level building where they milled flour and made paper. It is a good example of pre-industrial technology in the area; the mill was fed by the river, of course, but the water was channeled through an ingenious series of ducts and "whirl wells" to increase the speed—and, hence, the kinetic energy—of the falling water that drove the mill.

In the last 20 years, this quaint little combination of geology and history has been cleaned up remarkably, and the town of Furore is now the principal shareholder in the Futura corporation, a company aimed at bringing in some of the tourist money that usually drives right past it to get to Amalfi. There is, of course, no place to park along the Amalfi coast. The area is already overbuilt; the houses and hotels look precarious, indeed, stuck as they are onto the cliff-faces like very wealthy insects all scrambling for their own little hive of paradise. I'm not sure how much more tourism the area can take. They could pave over the fjord and turn it into a parking lot. I'm sorry I said that.


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