Jewel of the Mediterranean, the Amalfi Coast is one of southern Italy’s most beautiful destinations, and real joy for hikers. This dazzling stretch of coastline, overlooking the Gulf of Naples and the Tyrrhenian Sea, offers some truly spectacular views, with lush forests, plunging cliffs and historical and cultural attractions galore.
Where else can you dip your toes in crystal waters, hike past crumbling medieval ruins, go shopping in quaint cliff-side towns and sip on a Negroni as you watch a blazing sunset, all on the same day? There’s no better destination to combine the best of Italy’s natural and cultural delights.
The Path of the Gods
Indeed, many hikers flock to the Amalfi Coast to enjoy some of the magnificent trails that skirt the cliff tops, often passing along ancient mule tracks and old Roman roads. The best hike in the region has to be the iconic Path of the Gods, which offers a simply breathtaking view of the beautiful Sorrentine Peninsula. Extending for just under 8km, the Path of the Gods will take you from Bomerano to Positano, along a well-marked trail that has been attracting hikers for centuries.
Indeed, the Path of the Gods boasts a history that stretches back perhaps thousands of years, and is steeped in Greek myth and legend. One story suggests that the route takes its name from the Homeric epic The Odyssey, and that it was the path taken by the gods who came down to meet the sirens who had enticed Ulysses and his men with their enigmatic voices. Regardless of the truth, if you walk the Path of the Gods on a clear, sunny day, it’s likely you’ll soon be convinced of its divine origins.
One of the best aspects of this hike is the sheer diversity of scenery that you can expect along the way, with picturesque terraced gardens, orchards of citrus and olives, and dense, green forest. You’ll weave in and out of tall trees and low shrubs, on a delightful trail punctuated by some of the best views in southern Italy. Wide, expansive vistas of the deep, blue Mediterranean Sea, flaked by verdant cliffs and sandy beaches – you can’t ask for anything more!
Step Back In Time
The Path of the Gods is also the perfect hike for history buffs, as you’ll literally be walking back in time in the footsteps of the Amalfi Coast’s ancient residents. This part of Italy has been inhabited by a plethora of different peoples and cultures over the centuries, creating a cultural and linguistic melting pot that has left its mark on the region. From Ancient Romans to Byzantine Greeks, Arab raiders and Lombard dukes, this region has been attracting visitors for millennia.
Once plagued by pirates, the Amalfi Coast has a rich maritime history, with merchants and traders who brought all kinds of goods to and from the Sorrentine Peninsula. The hiking trails here often follow ancient trading routes, tracing the tracks of Roman foot soldiers and medieval merchants up and down the hills and all the way to the sea. You’ll pass ruined temples, imposing fortresses and peaceful churches, allowing a brief glimpse into Italy’s rich and fascinating past.
Practicalities and Top Tips
The Path of the Gods is a moderately challenging hike, with some steep sections, so you’ll need to have plenty of energy to complete it. However, the remarkable scenery will soon take your mind off your aching legs, and it’s a manageable route even for beginner hikers as long as you’re reasonably fit.
The route is well marked using the characteristic red and white signs of the Alpine Italian Club, so you’re not likely to lose your way. The end of the hike is at the pretty village of Nocelle, where you can grab a bus down the winding road to Positano. However, if you have a little extra energy it’s definitely worth descending on foot via the steep staircase, (with a grand total of 1500 steps!) to take advantage of the remarkable views over the Sorrentine Peninsula.
Once you’ve arrived in Positano, there’s no better way to reward yourself than with a gelato or a cocktail on one of the town’s delightful terraces. Positano is a gem in its own right, with colorful buildings clinging to the steep cliffs, and plenty of fantastic places to eat, drink, shop and stay. The ancient Romans built some of their most luxurious villas on this stretch of the coast, and it’s certainly easy to see why!
After the dizzying heights of the coastal path, Positano is the perfect place to relax. This beautiful region certainly lives up to the hype, and perhaps the best way to experience it is on foot, walking through a land of myth on the iconic Path of the Gods.