It’s no wonder that artists, musicians, writers and travelers have been attracted to the approximately 50 km of coastline on the south side of the Sorrentine Peninsula, and to the charming isle of Capri. The area is a feast for the senses. Picturesque villages painted in watercolor washes cling to hills scented with mint, rosemary, lavender and oregano.
Marvelous aromas of oven-baked pizza, risotto with wild mushrooms, and linguine puttanesca waft from local trattorias (family-owned restaurant) or pizzerias.
Check out these maps to see that we didn’t hike the entire Costiera Amalfitana, but we certainly got a taste of the wonderful trail variety that the region offers. Country Walkers bases this walking tour in the major towns of Ravello, Capri and Sorrento, spending two nights in each. Each morning a mini-bus picks us up at our hotel and takes us up a winding, vertigo-inducing road until we reach a trail to begin the day’s hike. Since we are a group of twelve with various walking speeds, we sometimes break into two groups, with one doing a less challenging walk. Walks usually vary from 4 to 8 miles, although we walked almost 10 miles on our last day (Val’s birthday!). There are a number of walking surfaces: cobblestones, forest paths covered with a thick layer of pine needles, hard-packed clay which becomes very slippery when wet, paths paved with limestone, or paved roads. If hiking on the latter, one learns to listen carefully on corners or curves when crossing, as a speedy vespa or garbage truck can quickly surprise an inattentive walker.
The ferry from Sorento to Isla Capri was quite exciting. The jetboat with only about 20-30 passengers tacked out and over to get upwind to Capri. Jet boats don’t often tack but this one did as the wind was blowing 20-25 kts from just the direction we were going. There was a lot of wave action, laughing and salt spray – fun! On Capri we had perhaps our steepest and hardest hike ending on the highest point on the island. A number of us cheated and rode a chairlift down, down, down back to the masses of tourists in town.
Lunch breaks or dinners are sometimes taken at a rural restaurant an ‘agritourisimo’ which is part of the Slow Food Movement. This is part of an international movement which supports the use of local food and emphasizes the importance of agricultural biodiversity throughout the world. We hiked to a cheese factory one day, viewed the precise steps of making the cheese, and watched two very adept workers twisting fresh-made mozzarella into pretzel-like portions. We then sampled the best and freshest ricotta (flavored with a little honey and formed into delicate flower shapes) that we’ve ever tasted. On our last night we savored many farm-fresh vegetables during our final celebratory dinner and concluded with a chilled glass of traditional limoncello. We toasted our good fortune to be able to eat healthy local food superbly prepared in such a lovely setting with cheery new friends.
One morning we explored Villa Cimbrone which dates from the eleventh century and has extensive paths and gardens and sculptures and expansive views south over the Gulf of Salerno. This fabulous property was restored and expanded by an Englishman in the early 20th century and is now a luxury hotel but open to the public.
The town of Sorrento is on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Napoli and is crowded with tourists filling the narrow Roman streets that wind here and there past an infinity of tourist shops. Our hotel is very fancy with gardens and harbor overlooks and a beautiful swimming pool that Val enjoyed after our 10 mile hike back from the most western tip of the peninsula.