Every spring, my brother Sem and I go hiking somewhere in Europe. Over the years we have developed a very specific set of variables to decide on our hiking destination: it should be warm (we decided on that after hiking through the Peak District near Manchester in the rain and cold), it should have good food (again, after the Peak District), it should have good coffee (yep, another learning from the Peak District) and it should have a challenging trail (we learned that from hours of boring wide roads while hiking the Algarve in Portugal). And that is pretty much how we decided on hiking the Amalfi Coast early 2017.
For better readability, I chopped our story up in a few parts:
- A quick word on the Amalfi Coast
- The many challenges of hiking the Amalfi Coast
- Hiking the Amalfi Coast
- Our day planning
A quick word on the Amalfi Coast
You probably know the Amalfi Coast and its cities like Positano and Amalfi from your Instagram feed. Tons of socialites, influencers, actors and other celebrities flood its narrow and picturesque streets, its bays and beaches during the summer. And it might not come as a surprise that the Amalfi Coast is a super popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The views are stunning. The food is amazing. The water has amazing shades of blue. People are friendly and welcoming.
And additionally, it is super easy to reach. We flew into Naples and had a 15-minute taxi ride into the city center. After we stayed the night we took the train for approximately 40 minutes to get to Salerno, which has many different connections to various areas of the Amalfi Coast. The city of Sorrento (which is even closer to Naples) even has more connections (car, boat, train).
And, as I will elaborate on later in this post, the hike is truly breathtaking.
The many challenges of hiking the Amalfi Coast
The hike is totally worth all the effort, but hiking the Amalfi Coast poses quite some distinct challenges:
- Hard to get maps/directions. None of the four local tourism offices I emailed before our trip got back to us. Online it is difficult to find maps. Finally, we were able to buy the map in Positano.
- Hardly any local knowledge. There is a fair amount of guided walks in the area, but it is not easy to get by on your own. Most telling maybe was when we went to the Amalfi tourist office. We set our minds to walking from Amalfi to Bomerano, then the Path of the Gods and then from Nocelle to Positano via Montepertuso. We were quite confident we could find our way around the Path of the Gods and from Nocelle to Positano, but wanted to get a local map to get from Amalfi to Bomerano. However, the guy at the tourist office told us the only way to get from Amalfi to Bomerano was via the main roads (not true), that it was 16 kilometers (not true, merely 10) and that it was only possible to get there by bus (not true). When I showed him the print I made from an existing route from Amalfi to Bomerano (Sentiero Via Maestra dei Villaggi and Sentiero Orrido di Pino) he repeated his statement and told us he could not help us any further.
- Signage and maintenance are crap (especially in the low season). According to a local B&B owner we encountered on the trail, the paths are cleared and cleaned up every June. As we were hiking in April, signage was often vague, missing and/or paths were completely covered in green. This especially proved to be a problem for us between Torca and Punta Companella, where we got lost three times, the last time so badly we actually had to give up. But also, on earlier days we would not have made it without a local map and a combination of iPhone apps (most notably, Here WeGo). But it’s also in small details. At the start of the Path of the Gods, within 3 meters, there is a sign telling the path takes 180 minutes and one stating it takes 4,5 hours (we did it in 70 minutes).
- Stairs. An enormous amount of stairs. Crapload of stairs.Between Amalfi and Bomerano, but especially between Montepertuso and Positano and on the way between Positano and Torca, there were insane amounts of stairs. But really. Imagine a lot of stairs. Double that amount. And even then, we saw more stairs.
- Technically challenging. Roads are often really small, and often changing elevation and often with roots or small gutters, which means you have to continuously pay attention. This makes it sometimes rather hard.
Hiking the Amalfi Coast
While eating what is -without a doubt- the best pizza we ever had in our life
We had decided on taking the grand entrance. We took the first train from Naples to Salerno to catch the boat from Salerno to Amalfi where we would start our hike. A small boat took us along the increasingly impressive coast – amazing cliffs, small houses built against vertical cliff walls, small leisure boats with people sunbathing. And then … entering the picturesqua harbour of Amalfi.
It was only a prelude to an amazing hike. As said before, getting from Amalfi to Montepertuso is a bit of a challenge. Signage was ok, but definitely not always easy to follow and those steps … man, all those steps. All these steps take you along beautiful wine fields, some nice wooded areas (no luxury when you’re walking the path in the scorching sun – even in April our t-shirts were soaked with sweat).
Part of the trail from Amalfi to Nocelle/Positano is the so-called ‘Path of the Gods’ (Sentiero degli Dei), an extremely touristic piece of trail starting in Bomerano and ending in Nocelle, the upper part of Positano. The views over the different bays and cliffs are very pretty, but it is hard not to have your day spoiled by tourists on flip-flops that stop every 10 meters in the middle of the trail to take another selfie.
We ended the evening in Positano, a very pretty sight. Even -again- in April, the village was heavily populated by tourists.
The next morning we started early, wiser from the previous day when the endless stairs had cost us more time than we had hoped for. Although the sights at the Path of the Gods were amazing, our views the next day were arguably even better. Walking from Positano to Torca is arguably even more beautiful and impressive than the Path of the Gods as you have unobstructed views of the full peninsula, even as far as Punta Campanella and the island of Capri.
The day took us along amazing views and some really nice small settlements before we finished the trail in Torca en ended in Sant’Agata where we had some amazing food at the Lo Stuzzichino restaurant (Melanzane alla Parmigiana).
The next (and last day) would bring us from Torca to Punta Companella. Would, as the day would turn out differently. It probably was a bad omen. Even before 11h00 in the morning, we had lost track of the trail several times. A local B&B owner told us that the signage would be renewed in June so that some signage was lost and/or was covered by plants. Although we had lost quite some time, we were still on track to reach Punta Companella in time. Untill … we somewhere in the last stretch to Punta Companella, just before the island of Scoglio Pila Nova, the trail was covered more and more by plants and we finally got lost. We tried to return to earlier marks but got even more stuck in plants and thorny bushes.
When I finally stumbled and fell close to a meter in a hole covered by bushes, we decided it was too dangerous to proceed and cut our trek short. We climbed our way through the bushes up on a hill near Nerano (we were very lucky the premises there were not guarded by dogs), up until the road to Termini where we got a cab that brought us to Sorrento.
Bad thing, we had to cut our day short. Good thing, I have to come back one day to finish the trail, to complete hiking the Amalfi Coast.
Our day planning
- We went in April, which is probably one the best times to go hiking the Amalfi Coast. In April and October, the weather is not too hot, not too cold and there are not too many tourists.
- We took the Easyjet Thursday evening flight from Amsterdam to Naples. We stayed at Domus Rosa, right in the middle of Naples with an extremely friendly Italian family (the cotton-candy-colored rooms are a great extra).
- Friday morning we took the train from Naples to Salerno and the boat from Salerno to Amalfi (a truly great way to start the hike).
- On Friday we walked from Amalfi to Positano (where we also stayed at the Hotel Savoia), via Bomerano and Montepertuso.
- On Saturday, we walked from Positano to Torca (Sant’Agata, actually), where we stayed in the Da Maria House.
- On Sunday we had planned to walk from Torca to Punta Companella, but had to cut our walk short because we got lost.
- On Monday we spent the day in Naples.
- Tuesday afternoon, we flew back.