Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life – Anna Akhmatova.
A few years back I read the above line and I wouldn’t have realized how true it was, till I visited Italy. It is a country filled with not just, culture and art in every nook and corner, but also some mesmerizing landscapes and remarkable coastlines.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Italy was our main attraction in Europe and in Italy the one place that was fixed in the itinerary was Amalfi. The first time my friend mentioned Amalfi to me, I hadn’t even heard of it before. As I read about it, imagine my surprise as to why I hadn’t ever heard of this wonderful place.
There are many ways to reach Amalfi. We arrived here from Rome via Naples. First it was a train journey from Rome to Naples, and from Naples we had booked a car. We were staying at Agerola, firstly because staying at Amalfi coast can be quite a pinch to the pockets. Also, we had planned to hike the Path of the Gods the next day and the starting point for the hike is Bomerano which is extremely close to Agerola.
En route to Agerola, we thought of visiting the ruins of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius although it wasn’t in our initial plan, but owing to a wrong turn we took on the highway and the extremely sunny weather we decided to skip it. I would suggest, that if you have ample time then you should definitely plan to visit these places.
Finally we arrived at our airbnb in Agerola, freshened up and began our drive, all the way to the Amalfi coast. There are other ways of reaching the coast like the SITA buses, but the real thrill is in the scenic drive. Thanks to my friend, who could drive pretty comfortably on the tricky, serpentine roads of Mount Cerreto, we could enjoy the amazing views of the magnificent stretch of the coastline of this beautiful town in southern Italy.
Once the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, it was an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.
As we continued on our drive, it was impossible to not fall in love with the captivating landscapes. Though it was completely overcast, the views were nothing short of breathtaking. Also it was quite a respite from the tremendous heat and a welcome change after Rome.
We finally reached the Amalfi Coast. They say that, the Amalfi Coast is amongst few of the travel destinations in the world that inspire dreams, and boy can they be more correct. This stretch of coastline on the northern coast of the Salerno Gulf on the Tyrrhenian Sea (which is a part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy), located in the Province of Salerno of southern Italy, would leave you completely spellbound.
The beauty of the place was so captivating that all we could do was sit and relax on the pier. We strolled on the streets and explored the beautiful shops and the Amalfi Cathedral for a bit. One of the characteristic cultural symbols of the Amalfi coast is its lemons. They have incorporated the lemon in everything starting from candies, ice-creams, drinks, pastas, to perfumes, soaps and all. Even the air has the sweet and refreshing lemony fragrance.
We had a late lunch at one of the open air restaurants around the Piazza del Duomo, Amalfi, near the cathedral. Trying the local limencello and the lemon flavored gelatos is a must. After spending some more time at the piers we drove back to our stay.
Hiking the Sentiero degli Dei (The Path of the Gods)
The next day we were supposed to hike the internationally famous Path of the Gods. Though thunder showers were forecasted, there was no way we could skip the main agenda of our trip to Amalfi, after days and days of anticipation and excitement. After all, it was mainly this hike, centered around which we had planned our Amalfi visit. As is true for all hikes, you are advised to carry water with you. Also do take sun protects and wear comfortable shoes.
So we reached the main square in Bomerano, a fraction of Agerola, and began our hike towards Positano. It is the most popular hike of the area and no points for guessing why. The day was comfortably sunny and we had started early. There was a clear trail which we could follow. The route is marked by white and red signs. We kept going downhill till we reached a fountain.
We turned right from the fountain towards Nocelle and Positano. The path became slightly difficult with series of ascents and descents. It was a typical Mediterranean landscape with the hill top dotted with thyme, laurel, heather and rosemary and the gorges comprising of holm-oaks, arbutus etc.
The most surprising part of the hike was how peaceful the trail was. Even though it’s such a popular hike, we had already come halfway and barely met a few people. It was great to have all that beauty, all to ourselves!
By this time, it had begun drizzling and as we were going through one of the gorges it began pouring as the promised thunder showers came down. We waited for a bit before continuing our decent. Probably a little reckless but we decided to keep going, but in the end it was a worthy adventure.
The unusual glimpses, from above, of the Amalfi Coast’s villages, bays and coastline were just unparalleled. We were presented by views of dramatic cliffs bordering the trail. Also scattered along the path were cultivated terraces and ancient rural buildings. All this summed up to spectacular, mesmerizing views.
After reaching Nocelle we divided into two groups. While three of us took the 1500 steps downhill which lead to the district of Arienzo, the rest took the bus to Positano. Positano was charmingly beautiful with its cute little ceramic shops, wonderful views of the coastline and many open air restaurants lining the streets. We met at Positano and took a bus to Amalfi, from where we again took another bus to Bomerano, where we had parked our car.
Thoroughly tired after the hike and being drenched in the rain, we decided to rest for a while at our stay. We cooked our own lunch and after freshening up decided to drive to Positano again. The views were amazing and we couldn’t just get enough. As John Steinbeck wrote “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” Guess it completely expressed our sentiments about Positano and Amalfi too.
There’s no surprise as to why the author went on to write, “Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano, your impulse is to conceal it. You think, “If I tell, it will be crowded with tourists and they will ruin it, turn it into a honky-tonk and then the local people will get touristy and there’s your lovely place gone to hell”” (excerpt from Positano by John Steinbeck in Harper’s Bazaar, May 1953). We couldn’t agree more. But I would definitely suggest that if you ever plan to visit Italy, do visit the Amalfi Coast and Positano, and experience its breathtakingly beautiful coastline.
From Positano we again drove to Amalfi for one last time. Probably it was like walking through your favourite dream, refusing to wake up. It was so easy to leave a piece of your heart behind every time you left Amalfi. The next day we left Agerola for Naples and so ended our rendezvous with one the most romantic places we had ever been to.
I hope you enjoyed the blog and were inspired to visit this beautiful place. Do leave your comments and stay tuned for more blogs to come.