It's a creekmore world

Italy Day 7: The gods eat Pringles. We find the exotic in Italy.

The food of the gods.
The clerk at the hotel said to negotiate a ‘best price’, but the taxi driver at the stand says he uses a meter.  It’s a dumb mistake on my part to let him.  The meter is set to ‘gouge’ and the 30 minute ride costs $100.  I should have negotiated up front.

For the last 10 minutes of the taxi ride, I debate whether or not to stage a fight about the fare.  I decide not to, for the sake of my blood pressure.   We aren’t the last tourists to get ripped off by Italian taxi drivers.  It turns out to be the only mistake we make on an epic day.

We are dropped off in Bomerano, and enter the trail.
We always anchor our trips with a big event, like the overnight in the Sahara, or the jungle trek in Mexico.  Today is our big event in Italy, the Sentiaro Deigli Dei, or walk of the gods.  It’s an 8km hike along the Amalfi coast high above the water, and it ranks high among the great hikes of the world.

We pick up delicious lunch at a local supermarket.
In our backpacks are lunches and some water.  Even though it’s Easter Sunday, most of the stores in Amalfi are open, and we found a gourmet grocery across the street from our little hotel.  They assembled some fresh bread, salami and cheese into sandwiches dressed with tomato, olive oil and oregano.   It was cheap too, only a few dollars for giant sandwiches.

The trail starts high in the mountains behind the church of a small town called Bomerano, two thousand feet above sea-level.  Our destination is Positano, the not-so-little-anymore town on the Amalfi coast that is probably it’s most popular tourist destination.  Along the way we cross several peaks and gorges, winding west until we hit tiny Nocello, where we descend over 1700 stairs to the beach of the Mediterranean.

Pariano, two thousand feet down.

The first section is steep above the water and the topography is wild.  Up and down it’s nearly vertical in parts.  Often the trail is only a few feet wide with a sheer drop off 500 feet to the next tiny ridge.  East and West the mountains of the Amalfi coast wind in and out, making numerous valleys that all have little stream and waterfalls.

White grape vinyards cover any areable land.

Up the high sides, the Italians have terraced lemon groves and grape vineyards.  Houses are built on what little flat land there is, and the walking paths twist and turn with the contours of the cliffs.

A demolished, ancient, limestone kiln fascinates the girls.
We cross the first pass, and explore an abandoned lime kiln.  The trail splits and we have to chose the upper or lower path, the former being more difficult.  Lily makes the call with gusto.  ‘UPPER!’  she yells and charges forward.

Lily chooses the upper, more difficult trail at the fork.
The path quickly gets thinner and we begin some light bouldering.  The grasses turn to scrub, some if which is blooming yellow and purple.  Up here the sun shines brightly. (We all get a bit of a burn.)  We pass another abandoned building and help some lost Germans who appear to have been going in circles on this mountain.

An hour later, at the second pass, we can see Positano off in the distance.   It looks deceptively close.  We are barely halfway but it looks like we it’s just in front of us a short distance.  Far below, we can see the long ‘V’ of the ferryboat we will eventually take back to Amalfi as it skirts the coast.  But the only sound up here is the wind and a few birds.

Blue sea, red hair.  Beautiful.

Lunch tastes amazing after two hours of hiking.  Even Emma comments on how good her plain bread tastes.  (She’s always picky, but she doesn’t complain even when she only gets bread.)  Trish and I pose for some pictures – it’s too beautiful to leave without some good shots of ourselves so high up above the Amalfi coast.  Trish, perhaps a little oxygen-deprived, thinks the Pringles are so good that they deserve their own portrait as “the food of the gods.”

We come around the second peak.

In our third hour, we begin a slow descent.  The scrub turns to shady woods with thousands of newly sprouted ferns, still uncoiling from fiddleheads.  En masse, they look like alien lifeforms, and Lily is creeped-out to walk among them.

A herd of goats, led only by a dog, passes through our trail.
A white dog pants, tongue out, and crosses the trail headed uphill.  Behind him we see movement and the air slowly fills with the sound of bells.  As the noise grows, we spot the first goat, followed shortly by the rest of his fifty-or-so herd.    It takes them 15 minutes to slowly cross through us, unbothered by our presence.  If there is a farmer along with them, we don’t see him.

But the journey isn't over.  It's 1700 steps down to Positano.
Four hours have past.  The girls are holding up amazingly well.  Both still have smiles and not once have they pouted or complained.  As we exit the main trail, in the Hamlet of Nocello, we think our hike is all but done.  Boy are we in for a surprise.  Rain begins to sprinkle at the top of a flight of stairs, and on the wall is a sign that says it’s 1700 steps to Positano!

1700 steps is fun, amazing and damn hard on our calves and quadriceps after a four hour mountain hike. More than once Lily gets moving too fast and takes a small tumble.  Down is better than going up but our legs quiver by time we hit the last step.

The endless steps wind and turn.

Positano is crowded.  We stop in a touristy café for some coffee and gelato.  Everyone needs the break and we don’t really care that the service is terrible.  On rubber legs, we shuffle past art galleries around corners until the alleys of Positano open up to the beach.  We break into a run and catch the ferry just before it leaves!  The ride back in windy and cold, but we see the whole route we just walked high above us.

The ferry sways hard, and Lily listens to Emma for reassurance.

We eat dinner in a daze.  Everyone is thrilled at our day.  The hike was exhilarating.  But exhaustion has us in its grip.  We can barely finish dinner, eat some gelato and pile into bed before we fall asleep.   We found the exotic in Italy, high above the Amalfi coast on the Sentiero Deigli Dei.  We won’t forget it.

Our hike took us to the top of those peaks.

One thought on “Italy Day 7: The gods eat Pringles. We find the exotic in Italy.

  1. Pingback: Planning for the Amalfi Coast

Leave a Reply