One of the many viewpoints on the Paths of the Gods, Amalfi | Catherine Burton
The 'Path of the Gods' in Amalfi
Walking the Amalfi Coast on an active holiday in Italy
The name suggests something mythical and the Path of the Gods along the Amalfi coast
will not disappoint. Its namesake comes from Homer’s poem, The Odyssey, that tells the passage was made by the Greek Gods as they rushed to save Ulysses from the sirens that were on the islands of Li Galli.
Photos don’t do it justice. Nothing prepares you for the sheer magnitude and beauty that is the Path of the Gods.
The coastal path (in Italy mellifluously known as Sentiero Degli Dei) itself remains untouched and unpopulated, with grazing donkeys and goats along the way as well as the odd dog seemingly running back to its master. Historically, the path was used to transfer goods for various trades and created a network between Agerola and Nocelle. The dramatic Amalfi cliffs above and below make it hard to imagine how they created such a passage in the first place – so perhaps it was the Gods?
Authentic Italy in the Off Season
We visited in early November during low season and stayed in Bomerano, a district of the town of Agerola and where the path begins. Famous for its breath-taking coastline, every year thousands of travellers flock to the quaint towns along the Amalfi Coast to soak up the sun and enjoy the sophisticated Italian paradise. The Amalfi Explorer itinerary includes a diverse combination of highlights without the price-tag or the crowds. At 650m above sea level, the small town of Agerola is perfectly suited for what we wanted: a quiet place with a few locally owned restaurants that serve fresh food straight from the surrounding farmland, a truly authentic Italian experience without the crowds.
Walking the Path of the Gods
The Path of the Gods' start-point is well signposted all over town and it takes only a few minutes to find the red way-marker and sign that indicates we have found it. After some cobbled steps, a small bridge crossing and short climb, we join the craggy Amalfi cliff path and any sign of the local inhabitants has been left behind.
If Sentiero Degli Dei sounds like music to your ears, wait until you see the Path of the Gods in real life!
At first, the dramatic cliffs above and below are quite daunting, but the sheer magnitude and beauty quite outweigh my fears as I struggle to focus on where I’m walking and gawp at the views. This is the point I wonder if we will finish the walk in the estimated three-and-a-half hours when we can barely make it five metres without stopping to take in the views…!
Our excitement only grows as we leave one valley to cross over to the next. The reality that greets us is grander by far – this is the point you understand why the Path of the Gods has been labelled one the best coastal walks in the world. The dramatic peninsula stretches out in front of you for miles and the different shades of turquoise water is striking. From here you can see the coastal towns below and the few farms scattered around the surrounding cliffs.
We experienced only a few fellow hikers along the route and, unusually, the majority were going in the opposite direction to us (from Nocelle to Agerola). This was quite strange considering the incredible panoramic views were in the other direction. The red painted way-markers were a constant guide throughout the walk and we only referred to the GPS app a few times, mostly to check how we were doing for distance. Along the way, the water points and picnic benches were excellent places to stop for a breather and enjoy the views. The path is complimented by short sections of cool shaded woodland which provides some relief against the sun. Around every bend we could admire the panoramas from a different perspective and watch as Positano grew larger - our final destination for the day.
Positano Is Looming..
The trail turns into a narrow concrete pathway before long as we reach Nocelle – a village perched on the very edge of the cliff with only a few homes and locally run B&B’s scattered along the cliff edge. As we reach this small slice of civilisation our excitement intensifies for Positano, one of the main highlights along the Amalfi coast and where we plan to treat ourselves to a seafood lunch. As the town grows, so do the different colours of the homes mixed in with flashes of bright Bougainvillea – a postcard view some might say.
After a climb down what felt like a few thousand stairs – which turned out to be significantly more difficult on our legs than we expected, we finally reach the water’s edge. From here you can admire the grandness of the Positano and the towering coastal cliffs it has made a home off. The narrow streets are scattered with boutique shops and colourful food stalls you could get lost in and there is an abundance of restaurants all serving fresh Italian food.
For those visiting during high season, I’d recommend an early start to the day to avoid the crowds in Positano and on public transport. The walk itself is not difficult and can be done at your own leisurely pace, but care must be taken as the terrain can be challenging at times. Overall, the Path of the Gods provided an unforgettable experience which can’t be expressed through words or photos. If given the chance, I would walk it again in a heartbeat.
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