Hotel Luna Convento, Amalfi
Many people we know told us the Amalfi Coast was their favourite place, or that they had their best holidays there. I started with a web search of walking tour companies. For value, itinerary and resources, we chose On Foot Holidays out of the UK. I highly recommend their services. We would (and likely will) book our next walking holiday through them.
We began in Amalfi (3 nights) and walked to Sorrento via Praiano, Positano and Sant 'Agata. We stayed 3 nights in Sorrento as well, then snuck over to Capri for our final 2 nights in Italy. We walked every single day except for the first one: our luggage was lost during a transfer in Rome and that first day we spent in Amalfi wandering a bit aimlessly, half-heartedly trying to buy some clothing, but clinging to hope our luggage would arrive by evening. To keep a long story short, we didn't see our own clothes until we reached Praiano on night four. I do, however, have a snazzy new pair of Puma running shoes, some too-big designer men's jean shorts and four pair of practical cotton briefs (let me tell you, it is NOT EASY to find cotton undies in a tiny Italian tourist town!). I had a little meltdown on day three, but my calm, reassuring husband got me back on track with the purchase of a lovely red purse made of dreamy Italian leather. I felt much better.
Heading east towards Atrani, from Hotel Luna Convento, Amalfi
On Foot Holidays provided detailed written route info, very clear colour maps, an additional guidebook and a handbook of tips from previous travellers including restaurant reviews and recommendations. We took walking poles (which I am sure saved my knees) and carried only day packs with camera, water and snacks. Our luggage (once we had any) was transferred to our next hotel by a local agent and waiting in our rooms when we arrived from our walks each day.
Amalfi from the pier
Our hotel, Luna Convento on the point with the tower restaurant across the street from the hotel entrance.
The daily routes were excellent. Most walks took us very far from the coastal road(s) and off the beaten track. We walked ancient paths that have followed the coastline and ridge-top contours for hundreds of years before cars ever reached the coast. We walked up and down many, many stone stairs. The coast is a jagged peninsula of limestone jutting out to the west and dividing the Bay of Naples to the north and Gulf of Salerno to the south. The entire peninsula is a UNESCO Heritage Site, with small hilltop towns (many consisting of just a few houses and a church, monastery or convent) and sea-level towns built almost vertically up the limestone cliffs. Walking from town to town requires a morning climb of about 800 m elevation and an afternoon decent of the same (with about 10 km of up and down walking in between). Luckily, you are only ever 3 or 4 km from the nearest cappucino.
Detailed walking notes were essential to staying on track, in towns and in the highland areas. In populated areas the walkway/trail is the only means for locals to access their homes and terraced lemon and olive groves. The 1-2 meter wide stone path functions as road, sidewalk, front porch and yard! We were always greeted with a buongiorno or salve! or buonasera by locals and fellow walkers alike. Most days we walked alone and hardly saw anyone on the trails outside of the towns. The busiest walking route was the Path of the Gods, a popular day hike between Praiano and Positano where we encountered large walking groups of Germans, Kiwis, and Brits.
Every home has a beautiful painted tile number plate and an extra one to let you know if there is a cat or dog that needs minding when you open a gate! This is the entrance to an olive terrace - you can see the mesh tarps that are strung under the trees to catch the olives when they ripen and fall.
A guest house garden in Santa Cosma
At times I really felt like I was walking through strangers' lives, so close to their windows as to hear conversations inside.
The beautiful Villa Cimbrone in Ravello
The Tea Garden, Villa Cimbrone
Terrace of Infinity, Villa Cimbrone (if you've seen The Trip to Italy, you'll recognize this!)
Amalfi (taken from Pontone)
Terraced lemon groves
A cappucino on the terrace of that yellow cafe in Lone would be quite the thrill! We were too high above town with a long way still to walk that day, so we didn't try it.
There were many barking dogs and these two gave us quite the reception, however they all stay on top of their own walls and behind their gates. A third small & friendly dog from this house joined us on the path and walked about 500 m with us until we met a road where he simply around turned and went back home.
I'll sign off here for today, but there are more photos to come!