In my opinion, a trip isn’t complete without a hike, or some type of adventure that gets me outdoors into the natural element of the place I’m visiting. Getting outside is also completely free (and freeing)! So put your wallets back in your pocket, and your pack on your back! This is exactly what I did on my most recent trip to Italy. Just because this trip wasn’t a “hiking” trip, didn’t mean I wasn’t going to sneak one in there somewhere.
The Amalfi coast is a stretch of coastline just south of Naples. It serves up some pretty incredible vistas. The steep cliffs, turquoise blue sea, hillside lemon groves, and villages nestled (literally) into the towering mountains will take your breath away. It is here that you can find the famous Path of the Gods, or as it is known locally, “Il Sentiero Degli Dei.” It will become strikingly clear as you set foot on this path why it is named as such…it’s heavenly. No surprise why this blog post will be 99% photos.
From the mountains to the sea and the towns in-between, this hike gives you a real up close and personal experience of the drastic and incredible landscapes of this region. Though you may be temped to stay in town or at the beach while you visit the Amalfi coast, I recommend taking a morning to get out on this trail and work off the wine and pasta you’ve been indulging in all week. I promise you that it’s worth it.
Where: Amalfi Coast, Italy.
Starting point: in Bomerano (Agerola) or Praiano and ending in Nocelle or Positano.
Time: 2-4 hours
Highlights: Amazing views that will blow your mind. Beach and wine await you at the end.
Getting to the trailhead in Bomerano was the first adventure. I was staying close to the town of Amalfi, so getting a bus from this central hub was an obvious choice. A SITA bus leaves Amalfi and winds its way up the mountains to the Agerola region. You will gain ultimate respect for these bus drivers as you watch them maneuver the giant buses around the hairpin turns on the narrow roads. Even I had to close my eyes around a turn or two.
A handful of people asked the bus driver to let them off at the Bomerano stop in Agerola. Unfortunately the driver either forgot or didn’t know where Bomerano was. Thankfully some locals on the bus helped direct the hikers to the right spot after we missed the bus stop. Keep your eyes open once you enter Agerola so you don’t miss getting off. You may be able to spot the sign that says Sentiero Degli Dei before the fork in the road in Bomerano.
You can buy map in any of the towns before you set out. I had a couple of print outs I got from a web search. The most helpful item was this link (below) which essentially took the guess-work out of finding the starting point…complete with pics.
- Another useful map: Path of Gods Map
I was advised that starting in Agerola and walking towards Positano (and not away from it) was the easier route, since the bus does all of the work to put you at the top of the mountains in Agerola. The trail is gradually downhill from here.
You can start the trail from the town of Praiano, however, you have to walk up the 1000 or so stairs to reach the trail junction with the Path of the Gods. Starting in Positano also requires you to climb up many stairs and is generally more uphill for the entire route. Where you decide the start will likely depend on where you stay and what times the buses run.
H@H Tip: To avoid the hot summer sun, start early in the morning. Although the trail wasn’t overly strenuous, the temperatures and humidity will have you breaking a good sweat.
The trail skirts the edge of the cliffs for most of the hike. Be prepared for some dizzying drop offs along the side of the trail. I’m talking sheer drop offs into the cloudy abyss. The trail markers were few and far between but I could occasionally find a white and red mark along the way. The trail was well worn so I had no problem navigating along the path.
The clouds were pretty thick the day of our hike, despite the good weather and hot temps. It made it difficult to see the sea in the distance but it added to the eerie stillness of the mountains. It was pretty fun to be sitting above the clouds and watching them roll up the cliffs around you.
Soon after the trail junction for the higher or lower trail (coming from Bomerano), you will be able to peer down upon the town of Praiano (now aren’t you glad you didn’t take the stairs up from Praiano to the trail).
The trail passed through a section of tropical-like environment where the trickle of waterfalls and thick canopy make you wonder were you are. There are a couple of picnic tables in these spots (far back from the cliffs) to stop for a bite if you packed a lunch.
The path leads right into the town of Nocelle from which you can take stairs down to the main “square” where there are bathrooms and a lovely gentlemen selling drinks (beer! or fresh squeezed orange juice or lemonade), which are amazingly refreshing. The view to Positano from here is breathtaking. At this point you can take a trail to Montepertuso (a bit more of a hike with stairs leading into Positano) or make the journey of 2000+ steps to the main road which then leads to Positano. We opted for the stairs with a promise of an amazing beach at the end if we continued down more (yes more) stairs to the sea once we passed the road.
The promise did not disappoint. Get a grueling leg workout (my knees and calves ached for days!) by going down about 2500 steps to reach Arienzo beach (the signs say Spiaggia with an arrow). This little gem was by far my most favorite beach I visited all week. It was secluded, quiet and had the most clear water I’ve ever seen. Afterwards, my wonderful hiking partner and I enjoyed a fresh lunch and bottle of wine at the beach restaurant here. There is a private section of beach and a section to rent beach loungers. A refreshing dip in the cool sea after a sweaty hike is the conclusion to an absolutely amazing morning on the path.
H@H Tip. It may be worth it to you to pay the 5 euros at Arienzo beach to take the water taxi to Positano instead of walking back up the stairs to the main road to catch the bus into town. The water taxi takes about 10 mins max to reach Positano.
When you think of jetting off to Italy, perhaps a hike may not be the first thing that pops into your mind as you dream of hot days on the beach, sipping limoncello on the terrace and eating amazing pasta by the sea. Treat yourself to a few hours on your trip to really experience this magical place from another perspective. When you have finished, you can lie on the beach and stare up in amazement at the mountains you were just skirting across. What appears virtually impossible when looking from below, is absolutely unreal (and totally doable) when you are up there!
Adventure really is everywhere, you just need to know where to look for it.
What other trails on the Amalfi Coast took your breath away? Please share !