The Amalfi Coast in Italy is an idyllic area and popular with the rich and famous. As such, even a short trip there requires a remortgage on your house – but you don’t need to be Tom Cruise or Oprah to be able to enjoy the region.
If you venture further afield (which most people don’t – walking isn’t good for the Jimmy Choos) you’ll come across tiny villages hewn out of craggy cliffs that drop into the clear, turquoise sea, with views that cannot be rivalled and locals who don’t speak English. Bliss.
With the whole town of Amalfi built into the side of a tall sloping cliff, the bouganvilla-covered houses, fragrant lemon groves, fruit-tree-filled back gardens and rocky pathways are all cut into the cliffside, leaving everything open and visible.
There is only one path leading from Amalfi up into the hills, and as you meander along under the brightly coloured lemon groves, the views of the main town and the sparkling blue sea dotted with little white sailboats get better and better.
Olive trees provide much-appreciated shade on a hot day, and the derelict paper mills are free to be investigated. It is a bit spooky wandering into these crumbly old buildings – they’re dark, damp and some still have the machinery in them.
The waterfall trail
Another relief from the hot sun is the chain of waterfalls that line the walk – the clear pools of water at the bottom of each one are freezing cold, and so utterly refreshing on a hot day.
The climax of the walking trail (which in some parts requires scrambling over loose rocks and wading through overgrown paths) is a towering, thundering waterfall, which marks the end of the ‘road’. Adjacent to this magnificent beast is a narrow valley flanked by crumbling cliffs covered in bright green flora, where the freshest, cleanest mountain water gushes down onto the rocky valley floor. Stand under this shower, hold your hands out and drink the perfectly clear, delicious mountain water, before heading back down the trail.
On the way back, follow signs to Pontone (pon-tone-ay), a small town with a tiny square, a couple of pizzerias and a little icecream shop – which you’ll be very grateful for!
It doesn’t take long to get back to town (and, sadly, reality) via the winding backstreets of Amalfi, but you’ll feel a real smugness when you return to the crowds of Amalfi.
Who is it for?
Avid walkers, and those seeking nature at its best.
Who is it not for?
Families with small children can do this walk, but be prepared to leave the marks of heavily dragged feet in your wake.
Where is it?
Amalfi, Italy (about 1.5 hours from Naples).
How do we get there?
Head up the main street in Amalfi, and when you get to the paper mill museum (which you pay for entry to – there are much more interesting and unspoilt paper mills on the trek, which are of course free), turn right up some steps, then turn left and carry on up the steps. You’ll see some wooden signs telling you how far (in time) you have to go until you reach the next town. The walk can take anything from a few hours to all day.
Take a disposable barbeque and some food with you – there’s a great picnic area about halfway up, in the most stunning rainforest setting, alongside a creek that runs between all the many waterfalls.