Punta Campanella is one of the most fascinating and evocative places of the Sorrento Peninsula. This strip of land, that gently stretches towards the sea, is an emblem of the Mediterranean vegetation adorning the Amalfi Coast.
Punta Campanella is a chest with precious treasures that reveal the glorious past of this land, it is one of the favorite destinations of the most passionate and curious travellers. Here history and myth intertwine, giving birth to an exciting story.
The Punta Campanella Bell legend
This place has a story to tell right from the origin of the name. It is said that during an invasion, the Saracens sacked Sant’Antonino Abate church, the protector of Sorrento, stealing among the many sacred and precious objects also the bronze bell. The Saracen fleet left Sorrento, but near Punta Campanella, the ship carrying the bell was blocked by a mysterious force that prevented it from continuing its journey. Attempting to reach the other ships, the pirates began to throw parts of their booty into the sea, but only when they got rid of the bell of Sant’Antonino they managed to continue their journey. Since then, some fishermen say that every February 14th, the celebrating day of the patron saint of Sorrento, near Punta Campanella it is possible to hear the bell ringing underwater and this extraordinary event would have given the name to this place.
The other less imaginative story traces the origin of the name back to the presence in the past of a bell on Minerva Tower, the watchtower at the end of Punta Campanella built in 1300s and still perfectly preserved. This tower is part of the defense system extended from Sorrento peninsula to Amalfi with around thirty towers.
Punta Campanella, Mermaids myth and Athena Temple
The link between Sorrento Peninsula and the myth of the Mermaids is ancient and indissoluble thanks to a long poetic tradition begun by Homer who set the meeting between Ulysses and the mermaids Leucosia, Partenope and Ligea in the crystal clear waters of Amalfi and Sorrento Coasts.
These three mermaids were sisters and daughters of Acheloo (god of rivers) and Persephone (goddess of mother earth). Following the legend, the three mermaids used to charm sailors from the coast promontories to make them lose control of the ships, which irreparably crashed against the rocks and were destroyed.
Ulysses, a shrewd man with a keen intelligence, made wax plugs for his crew to put into their ears so to avoid to be distracted by the mermaids’ voices, while he had himself tied to the mainmast. When the trap failed, the three mermaids threw themselves into the sea for the sorrow, turning into rocks and giving rise to the small archipelago of Li Galli (Gallo Lungo, Castelluccio and La Rotonda).
Ulysses, on the other hand, grateful for the life that he and his men had been spared, docked at Punta Campanella where he built a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena who led him to emerge unscathed from that situation.
The Athena Temple represents the meeting point for excellence between history and mythology of this territory. The ruins of this votive Greek origins structure are still visible nowadays along the path that from Punta Campanella leads to the sea. Along this route, with a little attention, it is still clearly legible an inscription in Osco engraved on the stone indicating the landing point at the Sanctuary of Athena.
How to reach Punta Campanella
For trekking lovers the stop in Punta Campanella is inevitable and exciting. It starts from a small village in Massa Lubrense, Termini, where a road leading to a crossroad begins, at the crossroad by going up, it is possible to reach Monte San Costanzo, where there is a breathtaking view on the two gulfs: the Gulf of Naples and that of Salerno separated by a strip of land; on the other hand, by going down, it is possible to go towards the end of the Sorrento Peninsula, where the coast seems to rejoin the island of Capri.
For those who want to spare this effort, it is possible admire the majesty of this place from the sea. If you rent a boat from Sorrento to Capri, Positano or Amalfi the passage in the protected marine park of Punta Campanella is inevitable and suggestive. The perspective from the sea, indeed, is very evocative: it seems to enter the myth and wear the clothes of Ulysses on his way to his dear Ithaca.