Saturday, 5 July 2014

Final Days in Amalfi

Yesterday Charles and I hiked Il Sentiere Degli Dei, which was spectacular! The name of the path  translates as "The Path of the Gods".  Our guide, Nino Aversa, is a local history buff so right up Charles' alley.  Some people just go on their own, but we were very grateful we had a guide.  The path was quite rugged in parts and some of those parts were precariously close to the edge with no safety barrier.  Just having Nino say "the road is flat for a while just around the bend" or "in a few more minutes we will be in the woods where it is cool," provided much needed relief and reassurance at many points along the way. He also advised us that it would be best if he drove us to the point most people finish and actually start there and go back to Praiano so we would encounter better shade and it just made better sense to end close to the hotel. Our hike started in Nocelle where we met a lovely B&B Hostess by the name of Amalia.  She has an incredible recently renovated home whose foundations are eight hundred years old, with a vista from her terrace to absolutely die for! She was very kind and generous, inviting us for a tour of her garden and of course offering us coffee and a dolce, but we had to decline the sugar, given the physical ordeal we had ahead of us.  It would be a three-and-a-half-hours stint before we arrived back in Praiano.  But, we did, however, partake of some delicious plums plucked fresh from her great grandfather's tree that is still providing fruit today.

View from Amalia's terrace

Worthy of note is the story behind Nocelle's inception.  When pirates invaded parts of the Amalfi way back in the early centuries, the inhabitants of Positano moved literally north, as in up the mountain to Nocelle, where they had uninhibited views of traffic from the sea in order to defend themselves against invasion, and also built a town with narrow winding roads where the villagers could run, barricade themselves and hide.  It would have been very difficult if not impossible to carry large guns and equipment up to the heights where Nocelle is located. Smart thinking for would be survivors!

On our hike we saw remains of farms and stone ovens where limestone was baked down into powder for making cement, and land that was terraced for grazing cows, sheep and other domestic animals as well as for growing wheat and other produce. Absolutely incredible in terms of the labour involved in these constructions by the locals!
Note Nino, the experienced hiker, stands perilously close to the edge, while Charles, hiker poser, stands well back :)

Charles listens intently as Nino regales him with stories of pirates and the industry of men determined to be survivors!

Ancient furnace that made limestone used to make cement for building

Nature's air conditioning...gorgeous woods encountered along the way

The rugged beauty of the geography is overwhelming

View from the highest point of our hike. We only wish the camera could capture the magnitude of this vista.

One final impression: this hike with Nino and his historical detailed commentary left us with this overwhelming sense of awe for the strength and tenacity of the people of the Amalfi coast and their superhuman ability to tame the mountain and create a thriving, bountiful culture. 

Today, we visited the historic cities of Amalfi and Ravello.  We had no idea that Amalfi was one of the four great Maritime republics of the world, in company with Venice, Genoa and Pisa.  Nino's knowledge of this aspect of the history and culture left us feeling much better acquainted with the essence of the Amalfi region.  

Ravello was stunning and not so touristy.  A major highlight was the Ravello Music Festival that occurs in July.  The setting is impossible to describe.  Imagine hearing great orchestral music from unfathomable heights as the sun rises on the Imalfi coast of 5:00 a.m.  This happens once a year, but the orchestra plays many times throughout the season.

Ravello from a park where we had a picnic lunch of panini with cherry tomatoes and olive oil, hand made by Nino

Nino preparing lunch for us

Outdoor stage for orchestra and audience overlooking the Amalfi coast

So much more to say, but dinner awaits.  Off to Bologna tomorrow.  This part of the trip has been one fantastic piece added to another.  Stay tuned for more.


  1. Spectacular photos! Sounds like you guys are really immersing yourselves in authentic cultural experiences. Is Charles learning any Italian?

  2. PS - you always say yes to Dolce.

    1. True, we are getting quite an education and loving it. Charles ordered dinner in Italian last night! He was pretty good, even improved his pronunciation of vongole (baby clams). No longer sounds like fangule which is not a good thing to say in Italy :)

  3. All the photos you have shared of the Amalfi are stunning. I really want to go. You sound as if you are having a magical holiday and every area is so different. Continue to enjoy - esp the food and wine.