In search of Cava Bubù

Among the many pen stories that Ischia this can tell, one that is closest to my heart is certainly exploring the Bubù Cava or Cava del Tamburo.
It may seem a place invented by the pen of an author (in this case I am referring to Danish Vilhelm Bergsøe) and instead really exsists. In th esumme of 2013 we decided to try to find it.
It all started one morning in August; we were at the table inside the Ischian residence of Simone Merola (President of the Naples section of the Italian AlpineClub), along with Lucilla Monti (geologist of the Campania Region to which the island of Ischia has a great deal) to plan (as a good practice) path monitoring and mapping that shortly thereafter we would have done.

With the help of the latest version of the geological map of the island of Ischia we decided to venture to the north of the island, the high part of Casamicciola, certainly one of the most inaccessible as confirmed by the contour lines on the paper, very close together them), where indeed the nature delighted to draw improbable shapes and spectacular and where, while walking in the woods, there suddenly appears in front of a precipice or ravine. The idea was to start from the high part of Casamicciola area and in particular the “Caulare”, the processing tanks of alunite (mineral collected in the neighboring areas and especially in Monte Cito) that became alum and then was traded (but this is another story!). From there we crossed Cava Senigallia and climbed in search of Ervaniello source, and then continue to explore those places, with the real aim of finding a fumarole on the map, placed on what is in the aforementioned Bergsøe, distinguished author (who like so many illustrious names before and after him have stayed and told of the wonders of this island) in his book “La Pietra Cantante” describes as Cava del Tamburo del Tamburo. Lucilla explains that the name is due to the presence of thermal water that evaporates strongly provoked, especially in the past, micro-explosions that evoked the sound of a drum. It’s amazing; I had just a few days before reading the brief but intense story of “Pietra Cantante”. It is apparent by reading the book that is not only the singer Stone. Later in the story, the author and his companion come close to the “valley of the Drum” (according to some Cava Fasaniello behind Piazza Bagni). Others Moors from Forio to the rescue of Emin Tabor, took refuge to escape the Christian troops in turn added to you from Sorrento to give strong hand to the local population in revolt. The story by the author is full of poetry and so captivated details that invite exploration, and so you can imagine the excitement and enthusiasm that I have tried to share the planning of this route... I was no longer in the skin and not I was looking forward to it! on the morning of August 11th, early, we meet to prepare the equipment: GPS, backpacks also well equipped with ropes and some harness (you never know!), scissors and machetes to get us off possibly in the thick vegetation and away with the jeep of Chicco (Cecchi) and Lucilla.

The group consisted of five people: me, Simone, Chicco, Lucilla and Pietro (a friend of Naples in holiday in Ischia). The first stop we make in the Pera woods to try and track Caulare. After some research in the forest (that is how to Ischia call a chestnut forest) we find it. It really is amazing how beautiful the human intervention on the territory when it is perfectly integrated with the environment and nature. Becomes part of the landscape itself! From there, as planned, falling back towards Cava Senigallia and then begin to climb towards the Ervaniello source. The most dense and continuous vegetation but, above all, the presence of Equisetum(Equisetum L.) heralds the presence of a source that we find shortly thereafter; and then we continue the ascent caressing the “curves” sinuous slope, until you reach a flat wood.
 We stop to take stock-map and to orient us, and we move in a northeasterly direction by placing in an increasingly wild landscape and “forgotten”. Crossing the chestnut we are at the entrance to a quarry; we coast it along for a while and then we decide to go in ... The descent continues and becomes hollow ravine ... The tuff walls decorated with many shades accompany us to a dead end. We are facing a felled and a thick tree, tangled vegetation cover ... We take off with blows of machetes and perfecting the path with scissors, proceed very slowly, sometimes even crawling headlong (I felt just like I was reading the adventurers as a child in the stories of Salgari) and finally we review the light; we get out of this “dark forest” and appears to our eyes a wild world, charming, varied. our attention is immediately kidnapped by the presence of a small mouth fumarole on a wall of the gorge where it thrives one of the rare plants of Ischia, a fern: the Pteris vittata, a living fossil it could be called, the memory of an ecological past other than of today. But the strong explosion of biodiversity is expressed not only on the walls; in fact, even the ground we see fungi and molds of all types (probably someone not known).

We feel that we are going in the right direction ... we are missing very little to meet the point on the map where it was set the fumarole location we were looking for and then, after a moment’s pause, we continue and arrive after some handle to a cliff. The gorge ends abruptly, first with a terrace located approximately 3 meters below us and then with a jump of at least 50 meters. We stop and we find no signs that may suggest the presence of fumaroles ... ... and then, on the edge of the escarpment our eyes are enraptured by the presence of another endemicity of Ischia, the subtropical plant Cyperus polystachyus (papyrus fumaroles) with next again Pteris vittata (a very rare situation to find)... and then the insight: «Well! If there are these species, must necessarily be near a fumarole».
We climb down with ropes in the balcony (first Pietro, then me and then Chicco) and we note that the mud is warm and on the edge of the escarpement, it is in fact present the fumarole. We, here is the place, where once Bersoe had seen the Cava del Tamburo. Of course actually it looks different since then, as a result of subsequent tectonic movements and earthquakes, and what remained of the drum was this fumarole valley. We collect samples that Lucilla then made to analyze and back, full of wonder and with hearts full of joy, conscious of having lived an adventure to metaphysical limits.
The results of the analysis of that land has been so formidable we then got back in that area for the thesis of a biology student, Giuliana Balestriere, who made a monitoring station on the island where is the papyrus of the fumaroles and that, on this occasion, has undergone a taxonomic change, not Cyperus polystachyus but Pycerus polystachyus. The area of Cava Bubù, until then not one of the know stations of the plant. But above all we came back togheter with Ciro Cenatiempo (who needs no introduction) and a universtiy professor in Vienna with a group of his students, who had come to Ischia for a research work on the primordial microorganism (the archaea) that, imagine a little, they were found in that area. What a thrill and excitement that come back every time in that environment, which fortunately is preserved as if... and once again thank my green island for the emotions and ideas that gives me and that I'm sure will continue to give me. If only everyone knew better, we could maybe get te empower the real benefits that would bring us its preservation over time. See you next trip.
Have a good path!


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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
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