I've hiked in South Tyrol, Austria, Mallorca, the British Midlands, New Zealand, British Columbia, South Africa, Nepal, and of course Germany where I live; but all of these pale slightly, at least in name, to THE PATH OF THE GODS! (Sentiero degli dei) near Naples, Italy on the Amalfi coast.
The path of the gods leads you along the Amalfi coast from Positano to Bomerano (although we, the rugged hardcore hikers that we are, walked to Bomerano from Furore). Most sites that provide information about the hike tell you that the path stops in Nocelle, but we found a path that leads down to Positano. Normally, though, most hikers stop in Nocelle and take the bus down to the sea (wusses).
When (not) to Go
Usually off-season is the best time to go anywhere if you want to get away from the crowds--as long as it's not a holiday weekend. So of course at the end of October 2016 we set off to the Amalfi Coast for a long holiday weekend to hike the path of the gods as many times as we can in four days. We stay in Prairano, a tiny village hanging from the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast. If you come here by car, there are free parking spaces above the village along the road. In the center of the village, take the road that goes up the mountain; don't waste time driving up and down the coastal road looking for a parking space on a holiday weekend.
Prairano is a good starting point for the path of the gods, but it is also a bit limited in terms of restaurants/nightlife--except for the two masked guys making cocktails on the street late on Halloween night, which is festive. They are also play-attacking people with a real cleaver.
If you choose to visit the Amalfi Coast on a holiday weekend, be prepared for massive delays on the coastal road. The bus trip back to Prairano from Positano takes an hour (8 km); you could walk faster. To be a bus driver on the Amalfi Coast one must be able to squeeze through the eye of the needle.
"Oh, don't go to Positano on the bus," our host at the hotel suggests. "You'll want to start here in Prairano. In Positano, you'll have to climb 1700 steps just to get to the sentiero degli dei."
"That's all?" I laugh: rugged.
"You'll want to save your knees," she says. "I've said this a hundred times to hikers much more rugged than you," she doesn't say--but her face says it.
We wisely take her suggestion and find the beginning of the path from Prairano. I don't know who counts these steps, but I'd say the number you have to climb to get to the path above Prairano is maybe just 10 or 20 fewer than the climb from Positano. The Gods must have great bums. Here are a few pics of the ascent--just to get to the path:
And so on. I could have taken a hundred more pictures of steps and steep paths, but I was busy not having a heart attack. It's up and up and up and up. Once, you're on the path it's relatively easy as long as you don't have fantasies of falling off a cliff. (I'm not saying I do, but I'm also not saying I don't.) For people who'd love to enjoy the view and their fantasies without the climb, there are ways to get up to the main trail without giving your glutes a workout, but why wouldn't you want to do this? After four days of climbing these steps, your glutes will be godly.
Another genesis of the name Sentiero degli dei might be that getting to the path might have killed some people, like sent them to Heaven, lent them their angel wings, tanked their ticker, etc. Seriously, if you're not in pretty good condition, take the bus up the mountain.
As any rugged hiker can tell you, going down the mountain is much worse for your joints than going up. Those 1700 steps down to Positano are weirdly spaced, derelict, crumbly, and--I can't emphasize this enough--there are 1700 of them. Supposedly. Really, who counts these things? If you have knee or marital problems, take the bus from Nocelle back to Positano. If you trip and break your ankle on this uneven, unkempt path, nobody will find you for hours, maybe days. We saw only one person from Nocelle to Positano.
For experienced hikers, the path of the gods is a bit boring at the top (notwithstanding the amazing views of course), but the climb is a grand workout. In summer bring lots of water, lots of sun lotion, and a mobile telephone in case of emergencies. You'll be in the sun most of the time, and there are few watering holes along the way--although you might find a guy selling drinks on the steps of an old church. I'm sure he makes a good living.
I must be off,
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Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in FRiGG, Eclectica Magazine's 20th-Anniversary Speculative anthology, Indiana Review, Night Train, Juked, SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years anthology, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, [PANK] blog, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel, Chicken Soup for the Soul and lots of other good places. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen is a multiple nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, storySouth's Million Writers Award and others.