Tuesday, 25 May 2021



A new itinerary of about 2,800 metres, with an extra 500 metres should you also wish to go down to Marina Grande. The  cultural value of this urban route goes without saying, but it also has logistical merits. Its name already anticipates the fact that, as far as possible, it follows the boundaries of the city of Sorrento, still in evidence thanks to parts of the ancient walls that are still standing and  to the seemingly unsurmountable cliffs and ravines. 

Following this itinerary, you will  also inevitably come to each of the five locations of the  gates of Sorrento, which date back to various eras. Three of them are still standing and you will pass through them if you walk the entire circuit. Unfortunately there is no trace of the other two.

When Giovanni Visetti planned this itinerary it was with the intention of placing the starting points of the extra-urban itineraries in correspondence to the gates, because as in any part of the world, the roads beyond the walls originated from them.

One route starts from Porta di Parsano, 4 (ideally) from Porta di Massa (in actual fact from Piazza Veniero, due to its proximity and spaciousness, ) and the others from Piazza Tasso, where the castle and Porta del Piano stood with its bridge over the valley (see vintage image below, downloaded from the website

Here is the list of streets and points of interest to be found if you  follow the route clockwise from Piazza Tasso.

11 Piazza Tasso, Vico S. Aniello, Via Piet√† (Cathedral bell tower and entrance to the cathedral a few metres away), Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliani (Sedil Dominova), Via San Cesareo, Via Tasso, Via Sersale (Church of the Servi di Maria, Porta and Bastione di Parsano), Piazza Antiche Mura, Via degli Aranci (view of the walls), Largo Parsano Vecchio, Corso Italia, Piazza Veniero, Via Sopra le Mura, Via Marina Grande (Porta di Marina Grande), Piazza della Vittoria (belvedere of Prospietto), Via Vittorio Veneto (Villa Comunale, church and cloisters of San Francesco), Via San Francesco, Via Di Maio (AAST and belvedere), Porta di Marina Piccola, Piazza Sant’Antonino (Basilica di Sant’Antonino), Via Sant’Antonino, Piazza Tasso.

11a Via Marina Grande, as far as the church of Sant’Anna, passing through the Porta di Marina Grande 

Giovanni Visetti has created this itinerary based on the city limits, the most well-known points of interest and the need to connect the starting points of the Tolomeo 2021 itineraries to a marked route. The choice of the historical, cultural, touristic and architectural  elements will be up to the experts in the various sectors via the Sorrento Local Authorities and Penisola Verde who are coordinating the project.

The above blog is a liberal translation of Giovanni's blog:

Tuesday, 4 May 2021


To continue my series of blogs regarding the 2021 Tolomeo Project which is recreating the network of trails and paths in the Sorrento and Massa Lubrense area, here are another 3 itineraries from Sorrento to Sant'Agata:

Itinerary 16 - from Sorrento to Sant'Agata via Fregonito and Li Schisani
Itinerary 25 - from Sorrento to Sant'Agata via Circumpiso (Casarufolo)
Itinerary 26from Sorrento to Sant'Agata via Cala (22) and Zatri

These 3 routes are a little steeper than itinerary 15 described in the previous blog (average gradient 7.7%), but no less interesting and not only for their panoramic views.Each of them has a very steep stretch whilst the rest of the climb (continuous) is on average a little gentler. The overall average gradients are 8.4% for Li Schisani, 10.1% for Zatri and 12.3% for the Circumpiso. 
Proceeding in code order and from west to east, the first itinerary starts just outside the urbanized area at the foot of the imposing cliff closing the valley to the southwest.  The historical, paved and well-maintained steps of Via Monte Sant' Antonio zigzag upwards, before levelling out on the outskirts of the village of Priora near to S.Maria del Toro. From then on, the route (Via Li Schisani) runs almost parallel to that of Acquacarbone, but on the lower side of the Nastro Verde main road. The views of Sorrento from the dozens of hairpin bends going up Monte Sant'Antonio are without doubt the highlight of this itinerary.
In contrast, the steepest  part of route 25, similarly paved and going in zig zags, comes near the top. This one is known locally as the Circumpiso, but its real name is Via Casarufolo, the same name as the valley and  the rivulet passing under the city, under Piazza Tasso and flowing into Marina Piccola.This is indisputably the historical route between Sorrento and Sant'Agata, once the most popular and still the most direct even today.

To conclude we have itinerary 26 which is the only one of the four for Sant'Agata to be east of the valley. This one has its steep section in the middle, sensibly going  diagonally up the very steep cliff between the valleys of the rural villages and Monte Tore. It starts from the 22 in Cala and the most logical and shortest route from the centre of Sorrento is the one passing through Casarlano. Along Via Zatri you can see an ancient and characteristic limestone kiln still in a good state of conservation. This ascent also offers spectacular views across the plain of Sorrento, but from the opposite angle and from a higher altitude than the ones from Monte Sant'Antonio (16).
So to sum up:

16 Sorrento - Sant'Agata via Li Schisani (approx.3.4 km)
Porta di Parsano, Piazza Antiche Mura, Via degli Aranci, Via Parsano, Via S.Antonio, Via Monte Sant'Antonio, Via Fregonito, S.Maria del Toro, Via Crocevia, Via Li Schisani, Via Moscarella, Via Pagliaio di Santolo, Via Termine, Corso Sant'Agata, Largo Padre Ludovico da Casoria (Sant'Agata)

25 Sorrento - Sant'Agata via Circumpiso (approx 2.8 km)
Porta del Piano (Piazza Tasso), Viale Caruso, Via Fuorimura, Via Santa Lucia, Via Talagnano, Via Casarufolo (Circumpiso), Via Pagliaio di Santolo (start of same itinerary as 16), Via Termine, Corso Sant'Agata, Largo Padre Ludovico da Casoria (Sant'Agata)

26 Sorrento - Sant'Agata  via Zatri (approx. 2.1 km from intersection Cala/Atigliana on 22)
from itinerary 22 Borghi of the Sorrento valley ( from Sorrento there are an extra 2,000m via Cesarano or 3,300m via Baranica), junction Via Palomba/Via Cala for Via Atigliana, Via Zatri, Nastro Azzurro,  Via Termine, Corso Sant'Agata, Largo Padre Ludovico da Casoria (Sant'Agata)

TOLOMEO 2021 is a project developed by Giovanni Visetti, on behalf of Penisolaverde S.p.A. for the Municipality of Sorrento

The above text is liberally translated from Giovanni Visetti's Blog Discettazioni Erranti. Map and photos  also courtesy of Giovanni Visetti.

Friday, 16 April 2021

TOLOMEO 2021 - Itineraries through the Sorrentine woods

Here are two more itineraries which are part of the 2021 Tolomeo project:

Itinerary 14 - from Sorrento to Monticchio via Priora, Lamia and Acquara

Itinerary 15 - from Sorrento to Sant'Agata via Priora and Acquacarbone

Both of these are little-known and even less frequently walked, despite being historical municipal routes. In particular, until the construction of the Nastro Verde road in the middle of last century, Acquacarbone was the main and almost only connection between Priora and Sant'Agata . In July 2016, after decades of neglect and impracticability, it was restored.  On the other hand, the route through Lamia's "s√©vera" (forest, and in this case a chestnut wood) was and is more like a shortcut to  the ridge that descends steeply from the Deserto towards Montecorbo. From there you can then reach the central villages of the Massa Lubrense area, such as Acquara and Monticchio. 
Itinerary 14 is in all respects a novelty, be it a very pleasant one. From Via Acquacarbone you face a short, very steep stretch on asphalt and from there on you walk first through woods and then along the panoramic and practically flat road that leads first to Acquara and then up to Monticchio.
Itinerary 15 has more dirt tracks among the trees. In fact, after having crossed the chestnut wood of Acquacarbone, there are just a few metres of asphalt before another long dirt track through the trees of a mixed forest (Via Olivella). 
These 2 routes both start from Sorrento together with the 2 itineraries going to Massa Lubrense (previous blog, routes 13 and 23).  They leave route 13 after less than a kilometre and route 23 at the start of Montecorbo, continuing together as far as the intersection of Via Acquacarbone and Via Lamia, about 500m above Priora.
The signage of the Sorrento part of the itineraries is complete as far as Via Deserto and Via Olivella respectively. However, whilst for route 15 there are the same green signs to Sant'Agata from a couple of years back, for route 14 you will have to consult the map. That said, the remaining 2km are so simple, logical and linear that reaching Acquara and then Monticchio will certainly not be a problem. The signage for these stretches is work in progress.
It is worth pointing out that of the four Sorrento - Sant'Agata itineraries, the Acquacarbone route has the lowest average gradient (7.7% versus 8.4% for Li Schisani 16, 10.1% for Zatri 26 and 12.3% for Circumpiso 25).


14 Sorrento - Monticchio (approx.5.1 km) via Priora and Acquara
Porta di Massa (Piazza Veniero), Via Fuoro, trav.Capo, Via Capo, Via Capodimonte, Trav. Capodimonte, Via Priora, Trav. Priora, Nastro Verde, Via Acquacarbone, Via Lamia, Via Deserto, Via Colli Acquara, Via San Vito, Via San Nicola, Trav. San Nicola, Trav Titigliano, Rot. Turro Pastena, Via S. Sossio, Via Savero Caputo, Piazza S. Pietro (Monticchio)

15 Sorrento - Sant'Agata (approx.4.5 km) via Acquacarbone

Porta di Massa (Piazza Veniero), Via Fuoro, trav.Capo, Via Capo, Via Capodimonte, Trav. Capodimonte, Via Priora, Trav. Priora, Nastro Verde, Via Acquacarbone,Via Olivella, Corso Sant'Agata, Largo Padre Ludovico da Casoria (Sant'Agata)

TOLOMEO 2021 is a project developed by Giovanni Visetti, on behalf of Penisolaverde S.p.A. for the Municipality of Sorrento

The above text is liberally translated from Giovanni Visetti's Blog Discettazioni Erranti. Map and photo of tile also courtesy of Giovanni Visetti.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

TOLOMEO 2021 - Itineraries between Sorrento and Massa Lubrense

In my previous post, I wrote about a new project underway in the Sorrento area thanks to the three-way collaboration of Giovanni Visetti, the Sorrento Town Council and Penisola Verde. In this post and in the ones that will follow, I will describe some of the itineraries, liberally translated  from Visetti's blog Discettazioni Erranti.

Itinerary 13 - from Sorrento to Massa centre via Pantano and Vigliano

Itinerary 23 - from Sorrento to Massa centre via Montecorbo

Both these routes start from Piazza Veniero, in the immediate vicinity of where, many centuries ago, the Porta di Massa (gate to Massa) stood. The first part is in common, since as anyone familiar with the area will know, there is just one way westwards out of Sorrento, whether you are driving or on foot. They diverge at the 3rd bend of Via Capodimonte, once you have left the main road, with route 13 proceeding straight along the so called via 'e miezo, whilst 23 continues following the bends. There are also several short flights of steps, which may shorten the distance a little, but will limit the fantastic views over Sorrento and beyond that you will enjoy if you stick to the lane. 
The initial sections of itineraries 14 for Monticchio and 15 for Sant'Agata (both villages of Massa Lubrense) also coincide with route 13 before diverging shortly after Priora. There is a difference in length and elevation between today's two routes which could make you opt for one rather than the other. In fact 23 via Montecorbo is 400m shorter than 13, but it has a greater elevation of around 50m. If you wish to complete a loop, Giovanni suggests going to Massa via 13 and returning along 23. This is because you will be going downhill for the steepest parts of Via Priora and Via Capodimonte. 
The two routes had already been marked in the 2003 edition of Tolomeo, being part of the much longer Sant'Agnello to Termini walk. The signage in the Sorrento area is pretty well complete, with the tiles replaced where necessary and the markings refreshed. As you pass into the territory of Massa Lubrense, for the time being you can follow the original signs: red stripes for Montecorbo (ex 1a) and red dots for Vigliano (ex 1), until the new signage is complete also in this area. 
It is also important to point out that in the locality of Pantano, 1.9km from Sorrento, there is a secondary path going towards the valley which in 400m will bring you to Capo di Sorrento where it forks. The usual signs and tiles will guide you either to Punta del Capo (13a) with the Bagni di Regina Giovanna and the ruins of a Roman maritime villa (1st century AD) or to the fishing village and beach of Puolo (13b).

Details of the itineraries

13 Sorrento – Massa centre (13a Punta del Capo13b Puolo) (4,5 km approx)

Porta di Massa (Piazza Veniero), via Fuoro, trav. Capo, via Capo, via Capodimonte, trav. Capodimonte, via Pantano, Nastro Verde, via Pantano, (start of 13a), via Fontanella, via Vigliano, via del Generale, via Partenope, via San Montano, via Mulini-Sponda, via Mulini, rot. Massa-Turro, viale Filangieri, largo Vescovado (Massa centre)

13a via Pantano, via Capo (x 13b for Puolo), calata Punta del Capo (400+800m)

13b via Capo, calata di Puolo, via Marina di Puolo, Puolo (1.100m dal Capo)

Many thanks to Giovanni for use of his blog, maps and photos.

Friday, 19 March 2021


In 1990, 22 footpaths (covering a total 110 km)  were located by Giovanni Visetti between Sorrento and Massa Lubrense . These became the Nuovo Progetto Tolomeo, providing walkers with a network of itineraries set back from the main roads, the noise and large urban centres. Clearly marked with a system of coloured stripes and ceramic tiles, the routes were simple to follow and you could walk as far or as little as you wished, without the fear of getting lost, enjoying the countryside and villages a world  away from the crowded tourist traps. 
Maps were  produced and available at all the tourist offices and I am pleased to say that I  too had a small part in this, translating  the mini-guide on the back of the maps into English and that is when I first met Visetti. We spent many a happy hour bickering over the exact translation of a word or two and this is also when I began to hike again, something I hadn't  done since I was a child in the UK.

Over the years the itineraries and maps were updated with new additions (such as the Giro di Santa Croce) and notice boards with large maps collocated at strategic points around the area, complete with QR codes for the technically minded. Digital versions of the maps were also made available by Giovanni on his web site, free to download: 

Now for the news: Giovanni is in the process of revising and updating the Progetto Tolomeo in collaboration with the Municipalities of Sorrento and Massa Lubrense and with the coordination of Penisolaverde. New itineraries are being included and those falling within the territory of the Municipality of Sorrento have already been identified and traced. 

In addition to the two classic links to Massa Lubrense centre, there are half a dozen others going towards the villages up in the hills, including Zatri and Li Schisani for Sant'Agata sui due Golfi, both of which had fallen into disuse. There is also a completely new route through the chestnut groves of Lamia towards Acquara and Monticchio. Each itinerary is identified with different coloured number, painted trail markers, stickers on lamp poles and of course  the ceramic tiles characteristic of the original project. 

Two new circuits in the centre of Sorrento, are already accessible, identified by numbers 11 "The walls and gates of Sorrento" and  22 "The Villages of the Sorrento valley" going from Sorrento (Porta del Piano) to Cesarano, Cala, San Biagio, Baranica, Casarlano and Casola (locality "Sciuscelle"), returning to the centre of Sorrento. Clearly, each itinerary and each circuit can be walked in either direction. 
A website is also under construction where it will be possible to obtain  information about the itineraries.

Now all we need is to be free to try them out!

(Photos courtesy of  Camminate) 

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

The Pinewood of Monte San Costanzo

The pinewood of Monte San Costanzo (Termini, Massa Lubrense) is a place frequented by many, locals and tourists alike, but which is practically unexplored by the majority who limit themselves to using it as a starting point for walking up to the chapel or as a way to or from  Vetavole and Punta Campanella along the CAI300 trail.
In fact most people are probably  totally unaware that the central section of the forest, descending from the saddle towards Jeranto,  actually has a series of practically horizontal paths for every 25 to 30 metres of altitude, connected by short zigzagging paths to reduce the steepness. A little further west, other shorter trails reach the edge of the gully of the Rivolo San Costanzo (Rivo ‘a Falanga), offering unusual and fascinating views.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, gale force winds and forest fires had seriously damaged the forest, with many of its trees reduced to charred trunks, the paths blocked and hidden by fallen branches. The partial collapse of some of the dry-stone walls had also contributed to the problem, rendering the whole area a veritable obstacle course.
Confined by Covid regulations to his local council area, Giovanni Visetti decided that he would combine getting some much needed and welcome exercise with something useful and so, together with a few  volunteers from the local walking group Camminante, he began a new project, retracing and mapping the trails  and making a start at clearing them wherever possible. Now, after just a few sessions, nearly 3 kms are already accessible (the trails marked in red on the map) descending roughly 120 metres from the ridge and the CAI300 path. Any trees still blocking these paths can  easily be by-passed or climbed over.
The idea is to restore the area as much as possible to how it was, thus recreating a perfect, natural "gym" for anyone who wants some exercise out in the fresh air without going too far. That said, you can make it as long and as steep as you wish, go as fast or as slow as you fancy and  all this without the slightest possibility of getting lost, since all you need to do is follow one of the paths uphill and you will come back to the ridge and therefore to the road.  

photos courtesy of Giovanni Visetti's Discettazzioni Erranti

Monday, 16 November 2020

Here we go again - lockdown 2

So yesterday was Day 1 of our second lockdown following Campania's sudden but unsurprising leap from the fairly lenient yellow tier to the much more severe red one. Now we can no longer go out of our local council area unless we have a valid and documented reason and are unable to go for a pizza  or eat  at a restaurant (unless take away), sip an espresso at the local bar, visit our family and friends or go walking in groups. Curfew is at 10 p.m. so we have also had to stop wandering the streets at night....

It is not quite as bad as the first time round. A few more shops and businesses have been allowed to remain open and we can even go to the hairdresser's should we want to.  Physical exercise is permitted at any time of the day, provided you stay near  your home. "Near"  however hasn't actually been quantified, so it is pretty unclear, (and I hope it stays that way), whether this means 200 metres, a kilometre or several. I prefer to think the latter. Back in March we couldn't exercise outside at all for weeks on end. 
So yesterday afternoon, when the morning's heavy cloud and grey skies had given way to sunshine , I chose my itinerary and set off down the road to the village of Nerano, and then on  to Marina del Cantone and round the headland to Recommone. 

I chose to walk along the road rather than cut down through  the lanes, partially to avoid slipping, but mainly to make the walk a little longer!
Marina del Cantone was a far cry from the previous week when the place was heaving, the restaurants full to bursting and the bay dotted with motor boats of various size and importance. This time there were no more than a handful of evidently local cars in the car park and a solitary couple sitting on the pebbled beach gazing out to sea.  The restaurants and bars were all closed and nobody and nothing was at sea. The path to Recommone was equally deserted and the only sounds were the lapping of the waves and the seagulls' cries. It was incredibly peaceful and it  struck me how fortunate I am to live in a place like this. The dark cloud of Covid  lifted momentarily leaving me more optimistic that sooner or later all will be well.
I just wonder when.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

The Path of the Gods

This weekend, with the forecast of strong scirocco winds and very high temperatures, arsonists hit the Amalfi Coast once again, timing their attack with the onset of dusk to  prevent any possibility of a rapid intervention by air. 

The effect was devastating, the flames quickly climbing the hillside between Positano and Praiano, going perilously near to the hamlet of Nocelle, the Convent of San Domenico and the houses at Colle Serra before racing over the Path of the Gods towards Paipo. It was only thanks to the usual group of volunteers, working throughout the night and beyond, that the damage wasn't even worse. At long last during Sunday morning two helicopters and a Canadair plane arrived to quench the flames.

The terrain has been stripped bare and so of course rocks and burnt vegetation are coming down. The road between Positano and Praiano has been closed since Sunday late afternoon to all but emergency traffic, causing havoc to people trying to go home at the end of the weekend or their summer holidays.  

The Path of the Gods is also off limits whilst the damage is assessed and it is made secure. Fabio Fusco's amazing photographs tell it all (many thanks Fabio!).

2020 was already going down in history as a year to be forgotten. We really didn't need this as well.