Category: Storia della Rocca Sorrentina
By Aldo Stern, 2016-10-08
Don Aldo Stern, senior Magistrate for the Island of Rocca Sorrentina in the Sorrento district of the Kingdom of Napoli stood at the end of the new structure. Oddly enough, after just a few months of weathering during the construction, it had already acquired an apparent patina of age. But then of course, it was built mostly with salvaged materials scrounged from the far side of the island, and other old stone, iron banding and bollards brought down by His Majesty's engineers from the royal yards at Castellammare. That was the main reason it went up so quickly: the stone was already cut and dressed, and there was the remains of the foundation of the mole that had been built by the Elswitts when they held title to the island. Once the support and interest of King Ferdinando was squarely behind the project, the actual construction was relatively straightforward. "Everything in life should be so simple," thought the magistrate.
That original mole had been demolished not long before Don Aldo had come to the island, some six years ago. Il Principe had devised a plan to expand the size of the harbor, which had been carried out in his absence, while he went on that fateful trip to the new World. Boulders had been placed to create a breakwater, the harbor had been dredged, a fine stone dock added right by the grand arch, and the old mole was level to permit larger ships into the older part of the labor by the roman steps.
The only problem was larger ships hadn't used that space as intended. Instead, the biggest ships anchored out in the new harbor, sheltered from the winds by the little island with the former harbormaster's house where Donna Sere now resided, and under the protection of the heavy guns of the "nuova fortezza." They also had more room to maneuver out there: the old inner harbor was fairly confined. Smaller ships did alright, but as the economy of the island kept improving and more vessels stopped to exchange cargoes and discharge or take on passengers, more dock space was needed. So the council of magistrates of Rocca Sorentina had devised the plan to rebuild the old mole...now the "new mole"...or was it perhaps best called the "new old mole?"
Well, either way, it hopefully would serve trade well, and it certainly looked fine...it was not the biggest such structure, even among the smaller coastal communities around the bay, and certainly looked tiny when compared to the great mole in Napoli, but it had been finished off nicely and seemed like it would serve its purpose well.
And standing out at its end and looking back to the island, it certainly provided an excellent and appealing new view of the village...
Don Aldo looked up at the ancient campanile of the church, and the charming, asymmetrical jumble of houses, including his own odd little villa with the off-centered porch, grape vines, and arbor made from salvaged ship's timbers. The west side of the village looked as if some irresponsible giant child had casually dumped toy houses and blocks at random on a sand pile at the beach, and then wandered off, leaving the mess to eventually be collected by some long-suffering but infinitely patient giant governess or nanny.
As the setting sun made the little houses and ancient stones glow with warmth, the magistrate was once again struck that it was perhaps one of the most beautiful locales he had seen during the course of his travels, and certainly stood out as his own personal favorite place on the planet.