O the Path of Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) | Photo: Mihael Grmek (Own work), via Wikimedia Creative Commons
A Stone’s-Throw from Paradise, along the Trail of the God’s, the Sentiero degli Dei of the Amalfi Coast
The Sentiero degli Dei (the Trail of the Gods) is one of Italy’s most awe-inspiring hikes. It snakes around the Lattari Mountains, towering 500 metres above the sea on the Amalfi Coast.
The Lattari Mountains on the Horizon
The trail begins in Bomerano, a tiny village in Agerola, and ends in Positano, the world-famous city, known for its homes perched over the sea, already a vacation destination for the ancient Romans. Only 6-7 km long, the trek takes about 3 hours. Its name was inspired by the stunning beauty of the landscape, suspended between the heavens and the sea and totally immersed in nature and silence, far from the clatter of the city. According to legend, the trail was taken by Greek Gods to save Odysseus from the Siren’s song on the Islands of the Sirenusas, located right off the Amalfi Coast.
Local trail markers, as well as the well-known red and white markers of the CAI (the Club Alpino Italiano, the oldest association for alpinism in Italy), indicate the trail. It is of medium difficulty and it is also possible to admire numerous examples of ancient Saracen constructions along its entire length. Offering more details on this earthly paradise is Nino Aversa, who has worked as a guide on the trail for a decade, collaborating with tour operator Colorviaggi and the Hotel Mediterraneo in Sorrento. His goal is to transform his guests into “voyagers”, people who desire to “decipher the territory, profoundly understanding its every aspect”.
A walk along the Path of Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) | Photo: Jack45 (Own work), via Wikimedia Creative Commons
“The first step is the Serra Hill, the last is Nocelle which means Nova Cella or New Village, where a road was built in 2001. The trek could be difficult and dangerous, especially for those suffering from vertigo and high temperatures,” explains Nino Aversa. “On request, we can climb the almost 1800 steps to reach Positano, which from Pasqua onwards is a destination for visitors from all over the world. Immediately noticeable are the two highly diverse realities, despite their proximity - Positano with its hustle and bustle of vacationers and Nocelle immersed in total silence, overlooking the islands of Capri and Praiano”.
“In ancient times, the Sentiero degli Dei was the only road connecting the tiny towns of the Amalfi Coast. Once upon a time, the local population lived simply, up in the hills, near rivers, seeking to avoid threats arriving from the sea. Along the trail, there are numerous abandoned buildings, mostly used as shelter for flocks of goats. In the past grain and grapes are cultivated by independent farmers with simple means” says Aversa.
A glimpse of the Amalfi Coast | Photo: kirkandmimi, via Pixabay
Visitors will be surprised by the life-style of the inhabitants of this land that, even today, use mules to get around. However, the new generations have, for the most part, given up on local traditions.
“Along the trail, there are fantastic caves, along with a multitude of plants, flowers and trees, including thyme, rosemary, broom trees and white oaks typical of the Mediterranean coast - otherwise known as the “macchia mediterranea”. Americans seem to be particularly enchanted by such beauty.”
From Agerola to Positano, the colours of Nature along the Path of Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) | Photo: Porfirio, via Flickr
During the winter, the inhabitants are farmers and during the summer, they are fishermen. “The sand is dark around here because it is volcanic in origin, from the famed Phlegrean Fields off Pozzuoli. Over time, the pumice stone has made the terrain highly fertile, rich in minerals. The local stone seems almost like a natural sponge, it’s very porous, absorbing water and allowing it to drain off very slowly, which makes it really great for cultivating grapes.”
There is also another remarkable tradition connected to local legend in the tiny village of Montepertuso, a township of Positano. It is said that the mountain-top where the town is located is connected to the sacred legend of the Madonna who won a fight against the Devil right where the town now stands. In order to humiliate the Devil, the Blessed Virgin, in a show of force, struck a hole in the mountain with her forefinger. The defeated serpent, unable to outdo this feat, fell from the mountain-top, leaving a path which is said to be visible today. To commemorate this event, every 2 July, there is a procession which starts on the mountain and heads into the town for a celebration known for its amazing fireworks display in honour of the Madonna delle Grazie, the church of the same name and the legend where good defeats evil.
Montepertuso | Courtesy of CAI Napoli