Walking Tour: Sentiero degli Dei
- Start Bomerano
- Finish Nocelle
- Distance/Duration 6km; three hours
The Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) is by far the best-known walk on the Amalfi Coast for two reasons: first, it’s spectacular from start to finish; and second, unlike most Amalfi treks, it doesn’t involve inordinate amounts of stair-climbing. The walk starts in the village of Bomerano (a subdivision of Agerola), easily accessible from Amalfi town by SITA bus.
Beginning in the main square, where several cafes, including Top-VIP Cetarell, supply portable snacks, follow the red-and-white signs along Via Pennino. The start of the walk proper is marked by a monument inscribed with quotes by Italo Calvino and DH Lawrence. Views of terraced fields quickly open out as the path contours around a cliff-face and passes beneath the overhanging Grotta del Biscotto (Biscuit Cave). From here, the trail continues its traverse of the mountainside with some minor undulations. Periodically it dips into thickets of trees and sometimes you’ll be required to negotiate rockier sections, but, in the main, the going is relatively easy.
The first main landmark after the Grotta is a path junction at Colle Serra. Here you get a choice between a low route or a high route. The low route is more exposed and threads its way through vineyards and rockier sections with magnificent views of Praiano below. Roughly 800m along its course, it is possible to make a short diversion south to the San Domenico Monastery. The more popular high route (#327a) sticks to the rocky heights with broad, sweeping vistas. Both paths converge at a point called Cisternulo, 1.5km further on. Just below Colle Serra, a path from the Sentiero degli Dei’s alternative start in Praiano joins the main trail. Bear in mind that starting in Praiano involves a thigh-challenging climb up 1000 steps before you reach the trail proper.
After Cisternulo, the path kinks around some half-obscured grotte (caves) and descends into the Valle Grarelle before climbing back up to the finish point in the tiny village of Nocelle. A small kiosk selling cold drinks and coffee, served on a charming terrace with fresh flowers, greets you as you enter the village. Alternatively, head a little further through the village to Piazza Santa Croce, where a stall dispenses fantastic freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice.
From here you have three options: 1) take stairs (around 1500 of them!) down through the village to be deposited, via a succession of olive groves, on the coast road 2km east of Positano; 2) catch a bus from the end of Nocelle’s one interconnecting road to Positano – small minibuses run by Mobility Amalfi Coast depart 10 times a day; 3) a much nicer if longer option – especially if you’re weary of steps at this point – is to continue along the path that leads west out of Nocelle towards Montepertuso. Don’t miss the huge hole in the centre of the cliff at Montepertuso where it looks as though an irate giant has punched through the slab of limestone. In Montepertuso cut down past the church via a series of staircases to hit the northern fringes of Positano.
The CAI (Club Alpino Italiano; Italian Alpine Club) has a website dedicated to the Monti Lattari area (www.caimontilattari.it), with useful information on various trails. Alternatively, the best printed map is from the cart&guide series (map #3) and available in most local bookshops/newsagents (€5). If you prefer a guided hike, there are a number of reliable local guides, including American Frank Carpegna (www.positanofrankcarpegna.com), a longtime resident here, and Zia Lucy (www.zialucy.it).
The Sentiero degli Dei is not advised for acute vertigo sufferers – if in doubt, take the less exposed upper path (#327a). The trail itself (Bomerano to Nocelle) measures just under 6km one-way, but you’ll add on another 3km to 4km if you continue by foot to Positano at the end. Although sunny days are the norm in spring and summer, it can be cloudy in the dizzy heights but somehow that adds to the drama, with cypresses rising through the mist like dark, shimmering sword blades and shepherds herding their goats through fog-wreathed foliage. Bring a rucksack and plenty of water, and wear proper walking shoes as the going can be rough. You may want to pack swimming gear too and end the walk with a refreshing plunge into the sea.
Walking Tour: Valle delle Ferriere - Sentiero Alto
- Start/Finish Amalfi town
- Distance/Duration 11km; five hours
The Valle delle Ferriere is a subtropical wooded valley behind Amalfi town crossed by the Canneto river and punctuated by several waterfalls. In times of old, it hosted an ironworks (ferriera) and various paper factories (cartiere). Today the factories are mossy ruins and the whole area has been turned into a nature reserve known for its orchids and other endemic flora.
The valley is serviced by two major trails. The longest, the so-called sentiero alto (high path), proceeds in an 11km loop through chestnut forests and craggy hills north of Amalfi town. A shorter route, the sentiero basso (low path) heads directly up-valley from Amalfi’s Museo della Carta.
Whichever route you choose, it’s well worth visiting the Museo della Carta first. The Valle delle Ferriere was a hub of paper-making between the 12th and 19th centuries and the museum still harbours a working paper machine.
The sentiero alta starts in Amalfi Town just south of the Museo della Carta. Take the Via Casamare uphill continuing as it turns into a gravely path studded with multiple steps – thus begins the long climb to the village of Pogerola perched on a crag 252m above. The stairs lead directly into Pogerola’s main square overlooked by the church of Madonna dellle Grazie. From here take the road on the right (standing with your back to the church). After 150m divert right again onto a path (Via Riulo) passing houses and terraced fields before entering a more forested domain. This is the Valle delle Ferriere proper, a nature reserve replete with emerald-green ferns and a refreshing array of waterfalls (some up to 20m high). The trail sets out on the wooded west side of the valley, crosses over the Canneto River at the largest falls and returns on the more open, craggy east side of the valley. After passing through a tunnel high above Amalfi town, the last few kilometres of the walk traverse more domesticated terrain. Lemon groves and terraced garden plots lead down through the villages of Minuta and Pontone from where you can drop back into the crowded medieval streets of Amalfi.