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On the outskirts of Scala, beyond the last few houses of the hamlet of Santa Caterina, are centuries old chestnut groves. The area is rich in vegetation with many varieties of wild fruit trees especially a sweet, intensely perfumed pear. Walking along the Dragone River, the natural boundary between Scala and Ravello, you’ll come across one of the lesser known aspects of the Coast’s landscape, far from maistream tourism.
These centuries saw the arrival of both the Greek Orthodox and then the Benedictine monasteries, who were responsible for the consolidation of the Amalfi State. The growing population meant moving away from the crowded centres and into the sorrounding uncultivated mountain territory. After a lot of laborious terracing on the steep slopes, vineyards, lemon and olive groves were coltivated. Woodland were transformed into chestnut groves and today the pergolas and scaffolding used for horticulture purposes are still made of precious chestnut wood.
The paths in this area where D. H. Lawrence would love to walk during his stay on the Amalfi Coast. It is where he imagined the secret meetings would take place between Lady Chatterley and her lover.
The unique chestnut variety only growing in this area, is the Scala marrone. The October harvest is an important local tradition and it involves everyone celebrating at the annual Chestnut Festival, one of the most popular events on the Amalfi Coast.
Borders of entwined wooden poles that create the terraced slopes is an ancient technique that is still mantained today. A technique that is testimony to remaining in harmony with nature.