At the Circeo staircase of the Rinascente destroyed and bathing on the rocks at risk. The mayor: “We will rebuild it”

The damage makes access to the cliff in the Quarto Caldo area even more difficult, while private individuals have appealed to the Tar to claim ownership of the road of the Batteries, which serves to reach a third of the promontory

The Easter and Easter Monday trips have arrived, but FrFor lovers of the sea, Circeo is in for a nasty surprise in view of the summer. Bathing on the rocks is likely to be very difficult after one of the last possible gates, that of the Rinascente, in the Quarto Caldo area on the Circeo promontory, has become inaccessible due to the destruction of the entrance staircase.

Interviewed by Adnkronos, the Mayor of Circeo, Monia Di Cosimo, has promised to rebuild the staircase. “The use and enhancement of the natural heritage, as well as the historical and archaeological heritage, are obviously a priority of the municipal administration”, he says.

The destruction of the staircase is quite a problem because there are four municipal descents. And the others fare no better: access to the cliff in front of the Grotta delle Capre was closed with a gate in 2020, the ‘Ballesio’ descent has been impracticable for years. The fourth, that of the lighthouse, is a beautiful panoramic point, but has very sharp rocks and is not very easy to swim in. We could go further, beyond Punta Rossa, in the Batterie area. But there is a dispute over the ownership of the access road before the Tar.

Sandwiched between the properties of two villas by the sea, the Rinascente is a descent much loved by many tourists, but also by Sanfelicians, who have renamed it this way due to the straight staircase and the various rock pitches, which can suggest an escalator and to the compartments of a department store. It is the only one with a relatively comfortable access stairway, but now the last section no longer exists. The Il Fortino association, which has been fighting for the protection of the natural and cultural heritage of the Circeo for years, hypothesizes that it was deliberately destroyed with “a pneumatic hammer”.

To get to the Rinascente you go along the road of the Grotte, where the Ballesio descent overlooks further on, also between two private properties, whose access road is now reduced to a landslide of stones, often with dangerous shards of glass, impassable by bathers with sandals. At the bottom you arrive at the Grotta delle Capre. There is a parking area here and years ago the path overlooking the rocks was also rebuilt. However, to protect an archaeological find, the municipality has put up a gate that blocks access to the cave. But that’s not how you can get to the cliff below, loved by many for its flat rocks, the pools with crabs that enchant the little ones and the possibility of swimming to the nearby, magical, Blue Grotto.

Without these three descents, only the beach at the Batterie in the Punta Rossa area remains for lovers of rocks. Full of creeks, it is the wildest descent and is therefore beautiful. But to get there there is no other alternative than via delle Batterie. The privatization of this municipal carriageway claimed by the owners of some villas in the Moresca basin area would be extremely serious. Because, as the Fortino association points out, “it would prevent access to a third of the promontory and the national park, where there are the most beautiful things, the Battery, the alabaster quarry, the Moorish basin, the paths that they go to the peak of Circe”.

Swimming on the rocks, especially in the crystal clear waters of the Circeo, is a marvel and a joy for those who truly love the sea. It is a good for everyone, but also an important tourist attraction. The fort, which successfully fought to have the Moravia path on the nearby beach of Sabaudia reopened to the public, was born in the eighties to counter an initial attempt to privatize the road of the batteries and takes its name from the Napoleonic era fort that is located in this area. Today its president Giulio Schisani asks the mayor of Circeo, Monia Di Cosimo, to commit herself more to the protection and enhancement of the promontory, “an essential asset for the tourist and therefore economic development of the Circeo”.

“The question I pose to the mayor – he tells Adnkronos – you who are the owner of this municipality that thrives on tourism, these are the most beautiful places, why didn’t you manage them as they should be managed, guaranteeing their usability, in a safe way? In Sabaudia, the mayor Alberto Mosca is fighting to make paths accessible which are in all respects private property, here in San Felice we have public properties, we leave them in the hands of private individuals who want to close them, it is absurd”.

In the interview with Adnkronos, mayor Di Cosimo explains that the municipality has already had an inspection carried out to reconstruct the Rinascente access ladder to the sea.

“At the moment there is no evidence to accuse anyone of hypothetical damage to the Rinascente lineup. Otherwise, otherwise, we would have clearly proceeded to report the incident to the competent authorities for the usual investigations. What we did, being aware of a deterioration of part of the staircase such as to make it difficult to use, was to carry out an inspection aimed at entrusting the restoration work, the procedures for which are underway”, said the mayor, replying to questions about possible responsibilities and the measures that the municipality intends to adopt.

But the interview is also an opportunity to talk about the other accesses to the sea and the problems of safety and protection of the territory. At the moment, in fact, an ordinance prohibiting the use of a large part of the cliff is in force due to the risk of falling rocks, which however the municipality could review. While at the Grotta delle Capre, access is blocked due to an archaeological find.

“It is good to remember, for the purposes of correct use and therefore also for the protection of public safety, that an ordinance is in force (No. 20 of 05-06-2016, which corrected a similar provision No. 101 of 11-26- 2010) of interdiction of the fruition of part of the cliff in the section between Grotta delle Capre and Grotta della Maga Circe, as also explained by billboards present, for example, in via del Faro-piazzale S. Francesco – explains the mayor – These measures were issued following inspections carried out by a qualified technician, a geologist, who had found risks related to the possible detachment of boulders from the rock face. Today, with regard to this problem, the municipal administration, thanks to the work of the offices, intends to verify, through an expert report drawn up by a geologist, any change in the conditions that had led to the issuance of the measures already mentioned, thus to evaluate a possible revision of the ordinances”.

As regards the gate installed at the entrance to the Grotta delle Capre, it was repositioned (there was already a grating) after the fortuitous discovery of a burial from the Roman age (year 2016), which adds to other previous archaeological discoveries of similar importance. Therefore, the installation of the gate was necessary to protect the site and avoid possible tampering. That said, the use and enhancement of the natural heritage, as well as the historical and archaeological heritage, are obviously a priority of the municipal administration”, underlines the mayor.

“During the previous administrative mandate – explains Di Cosimo – we managed to intercept funding which is however linked to the maintenance of path 750, the one towards the Circe peak for which an initial tender procedure was carried out which went deserted, and to the maintenance of the dry stone walls of via dell’Acropoli; therefore, these funds cannot be used for anything else. Clearly these interventions represent a first step, since it is our intention to provide for the improvement of the conditions of use of our splendid territory and, therefore, for its enhancement, also through the opportunities deriving from possible financing”.

The last question is that of the Strada delle Batterie, the only carriageway on the last stretch of the promontory, the property of which is claimed by private individuals. But where there is also a ban on parking which makes it difficult for the public to reach the cliff below to swim. On the issue “of the road of the Batteries, we are convinced of the legitimacy of the acts issued by the Municipality – says the mayor – We have in fact appeared in court in the appeal you mentioned which is pending before the Administrative Judges of the TAR. The prohibition of parking for vehicles was established for clear safety reasons, given that it is a priority, to protect everyone, to guarantee an easier transit of emergency vehicles which must not find an obstacle in case of need for intervention. At the same time, our offices are carrying out investigations on the ownership titles of the road in question”.