Take a spring early summer or autumn walk in the Mezzogiorno –“The land of the midday sun” - along Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast. A land where the mountains, marquis pastures, lemon groves, vineyards and villages meet the sea. A place where you could be strolling on a rugged trail for one moment and then in the next be winding down through a citrus grove then through a pleasant village towards the blue waters of the Mediterranean, gelati in hand. The region is a deeply romantic place and for good reason; here you will find that golden light making the cliffs glow creamy gold, while the waters below graduate into an aquamarine haze. Then there are the greens of the cliff tops being speckled with the spring flowers and herbs of the Mediterranean “Macchia” shrubland. The towns, villages and towers that cling to the cliffs, can be a riotous mix of vibrant colours and tempered pastel shades. There is so much history, the Greeks settled here in the eighth century B.C. and looking down you can almost imagine the Argonauts rowing by enroute to tackle some Titan. The Romans came next, building villas around Positano and on Capri. There was much destruction caused by Vesuvius in the geological record and not just at Pompei and Ercolanium some villas were rebuilt even on the Amalfi Coast. In the early mediaeval period Amalfi became a major maritime city state claiming to have invented the compass and some aspects of parchment manufacture. Today the town remains much as it was with narrow lanes and St. Andrew’s Cathedral dominating the scene. We walk through this spectacular region using the extensive web of footpaths and mule tracks that thread along the cliffs and a wealth of natural and cultural treasures can be reached relatively easily. We pass close to beautiful monasteries, caves and ancient farmhouses, visit nature reserves and ruins of paper mills, whilst enjoying spectacular views during all the walks. We also walk through the historic towns of Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Scala Praiano and Positano, all little pearls set in a fantastic landscape. You could extend your stay with a number of walks on the “Finis Terrae” (Land’s End) of the Sorrentine Peninsula, the marine nature reserve of Punta Campanella, and on the famous island of Capri.
Moderate. One day (Day 4) is more challenging than the average, and one of the Sorrento options is rockier than any of the other walks. This tour is suitable for those who have had some experience of walking and are in good general physical condition. There are lots of ascents and descents on stepped trails, and so this is not a good walk if you have issues with your knees. Most days are not too long, but some people will find this tiring in warm weather. Please note you can expect to walk in high temperatures in late June, July, August and September.
Make your own way to Amalfi. This afternoon stroll around the town centre or take a dip in the ocean. Visit St. Andrew’s Cathedral, which claims to also be the eponymous saint’s resting place, and the interesting Arabesque cloister. You could also visit the Paper museum where there are still 14th century water driven presses and hammers that produce parchment paper from cloth fragments.
Accommodation: Three nights are spent in a welcoming and comfortable 3 star hotel.
The first part of the walk takes you into the “Valle dei Mulini”, the valley of the watermills, with its ruins of Europe’s oldest paper factories, dating back to the 11th century. The path then takes you up to the little village of Pontone and there is an optional walk to the Torre dello Zirro, which is a marvelous picnic area, with spectacular views of Amalfi to one side and Atrani to the other. From here it’s about an hour’s walk to Ravello, another highlight of the Amalfi Coast, with its beautiful Romanesque church and two sets of gardens you could visit. These are the Villa Rufolo, whose gardens were developed by a Scot and just down the way Villa Cimbrone, developed by an English Lord. Both have views from their terraces that have been described as the most beautiful in the World. From Cimbrone walk steeply back down to Amalfi, passing through the beautiful town of Atrani, with the chance to look around the narrow white little streets of the town centre. The last short stretch to Amalfi is very scenic and has beautiful viewpoints of the city centre. Ascent / Descent: 640 metres approx.
Short transfer by bus to Scala (tickets not included or optional steep walk). From Scala walk into the Valle delle Ferriere, one of southern Italy’s most beautiful nature reserves. See some spectacular scenery, walking over comfortable footpaths underneath the towering cliffs, and passing close to some little waterfalls. The path then gradually descends through the forest towards the little village of Pogerola. There is a nice bar here with a balcony overlooking Pontone and Ravello, a veritable rest stop for an afternoon coffee, wine or beer. From here a beautiful, reasonably graded medieval stepped mule track curves down to Amalfi, amidst lemon groves and marquis. Ascent: 300m / Descent: 550m approx.
This is a strenuous day and is quite exposed if it is hot. You can shorten the walk by taking the bus at the lunch spot, around half way into the day. From Amalfi start walking along one of the oldest streets of the area the “Maestra dei villaggi,” or highway of the villages, an old paved mule track dating back to the 9th century. Pass the little villages of Lone and Vettica, before arriving at the imposing monastery of Santa Rosa, now converted into a hotel. The route descends to the coast again passing some charming churches beautifully located above the rocky shore. You then can either descend steeply to the spectacular fjord of Furore, and take the bus to your hotel or walk up via roads past the church of Sant’Elia into the Valley of Praia. The path threads its way into the wild terraces, uncultivated for decades, and there is some walking close to cliffs. After passing a house once occupied by a locally known wizard, it is time to drop into the coastal town Praiano, with an optional descent to the very picturesque inlet of Marina di Praia, the tiny old harbour of Praiano. Praiano is spread out over about 3 km with upper and lower parts. Ascent / Descent: Approx: 820 metres. Praiano has a couple of tiny beaches in natural inlets.
Accommodation: For two nights, we use several accommodations, but our usual one has great sea views above the old coastal watchtower and marina. 3 star hotel.
Walk from the hotel through the streets of Praiano uphill towards the little church of San Luca, the old heart of Praiano. From here on an easy path above the village, you walk into the Valley of Praia, a beautiful green valley with many vineyards clinging to the cliffs. Then climb steeply up to the caves of Santa Barbara; another short section uphill allowing you a visit to the village of Bomerano, a very untouristy place, for a coffee. Returning a little way brings you to the beginning of the famous “Sentiero degli Dei” (Footpath of the Gods), a walk with unrivalled views.
After a very panoramic stretch with views as far as the island of Capri, start the descent to Praiano, passing over centuries old steps. Some of these sections are steep, and one can just marvel about those who constructed these perhaps hundreds of years ago. Ascent / Descent: 660m approx.
Along an old pilgrims’ path, twist uphill to the monastery of San Domenico, set in stupendous scenery, dominating the coast from its hillside terrace. Stop to admire the view before continuing uphill for another stretch, through spectacular scenery with bizarre rock formations and luxurious vegetation. Then follow the last stretch of the “Footpath of Gods”, which really lives up to its name, through unique scenery to the hamlet of Nocelle. On the way there are some high cliff side trails overlooking the sea, and views down to Praiano and onto Positano and Capri. Passing another attractive valley arrive in the little village of Montepertuso from where a choice of stair ways takes you down to Positano itself, one of the most charming villages of the coast. Ascent /descent: 645m
Accommodation: Two nights are spent in either a 3 or 4 star property depending on availability.
Catch the local bus up to Montepertuso, where you start the walk above the valley of Positano. Following ancient footpaths through the forest and along marvelous viewpoints (some cliff top walking) climb towards Santa Maria al Castello, the old fortress defending the narrow valley between the Amalfi and Sorrentine side of the peninsula. On the way up there is a beautifully engineered section of steps known as the ‘Tse-Tse.’ From here oversee both the Gulf of Salerno and the Gulf of Naples. Through a nice wooded area in a park like landscape take an easy trail to the ‘Caserna Forestale’, a foresters’ house, from where the walk continues through the forest and with a number of zigzags descends down to Montepertuso. Along another medieval mule track we then descend back down to Positano. Ascent / descent: 450m.
Today travel to Sorrento, from where you can take the local train to Pompeii, for a full day’s visit. This is the world’s most intriguing Roman excavation. A full visit will take at least half a day. In the afternoon take some time to visit the historical town centre of the ‘new’ village with its famous cathedral, which is one of southern Italy’s most important pilgrims’ destinations before returning to Sorrento, to stroll through its charming little streets with fabulous views of the Bay of Naples or first travel to Sorrento, from where you can go on short walk and do some relaxing on the seashore. This walk today takes you to the Roman villa of Pollio, beautifully located above a small natural inlet, with wonderful views over the Bay of Naples. The Villa has a natural spring, known as the baths of Queen Margherita, an ideal place for a swim. Walk or return by bus to Sorrento. Distance: 3.2 km/2 miles (one way), 6.4 km/4 miles return, 100m ascent and 150m of descent from Sorrento, and reverse on the way back.
Accommodation: The last three nights are spent in a 3 star hotel in Sorrento. Please note that there is a baggage transfer included between Positano and Sorrento, you however will need to make use of local (public bus or ferry) transport or take a taxi as the vehicle moving your luggage is not licensed for passengers.
Catch the local bus from Sorrento to Termini, the last village of the peninsula. From here you walk up to the small chapel of San Costanzo. From there you can enjoy great views over both Gulfs (Salerno and Naples) and Monti Lattari above Positano. Next take a beautiful but rough and rocky path running along the impressive cliffs of the ‘Finis Terrae’ - the end of the Amalfi peninsula. The walk descends through disused terraces and scree with views over to Capri 5 km/3 miles away and also down to the neighbouring Ieranto peninsula. You will eventually arrive at a headland called Punta Campanella with an old ‘Martello’ type stone watch tower built 1334, restored 1567, called the Minerva Tower, as there was a temple and villa originally on the site dedicated to Athena and then Minerva. The path returning to Termini is more comfortable and an extension can be planned from the charming village of Nerano to the Bay of Ieranto, (‘Baia di Ieranto’) one of the most beautiful and unspoilt bays of the area: It represents the central area of the Natural Marine Reserve which includes some very interesting terrestial flora. The area is owned by a private trust (F.A.I.) but the access is free. Here there is another stone tower and open air agricultural and quarrying museum. You could also have a swim before returning to Sorrento by bus.
Distance: Termini Circular Walk: 7km/4.3 miles, 2 5h
Total ascent / descent 500m approx. Distance: Ieranto Peninsula Circular Walk 4km /2.5 miles, total ascent and descent approx 150m, allow 2 to 3h.
An island famous since Roman times for its beautiful location and healthy climate. There is a lovely circular walk around part of the island, there are a few steps involved but not as many as on other days. The walk takes you to some famous spots such as the ‘Piazzetta’, where you can rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Views nearby of the three sea stacks known as the’Faragliani’ and the narrow streets of the village centre. But the walk takes you also along to the Villa of the Emperor Tiberius, called ‘Villa Clovis’ and for a small entry fee one can wander through fairly well preserved Roman remains of brick work arches. From here loop to a great natural arch overlooking the sea and then down to some grottos, and coming back to Capri town, you can visit the Monastery of San Giacomo and the Augustus Gardens, with some time left to relax or do some shopping, or you could drop down to the seaside on the other side of the island for a lunch at Marina Piccola before returning to Capri town and then back to the harbour at Marina Grande for a mid or late afternoon return to Sorrento. This is a day which really lets you feel the charm of the island, without generally getting trapped in the mass tourism which affects Capri town.
After breakfast, return to Naples by seasonal ferry, bus or train. There is a direct airport bus from the train station. Depart Naples.
A memorable trip. Beautiful coastal scenery. We walked through olive and lemon groves and ancient villages nestled in green valleys, among high terraces, with church bells tolling in the distance. Some challenging but rewarding ascents ( for a couple of septuagenarians), such as the trail up to the grottos above Praiano and the 946 steps to the San Domenico Monastery. The best part is that the walk was self-guided which allowed us to set our own pace, stopping wherever, whenever we wanted.
C. Wong., Burnaby, BC, Canada
Per Person, Twin Share