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Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 - A GOOD YEAR FOR TREKKING




Bay of Jeranto with Capri behind
2014 is drawing to an end and with 52 day hikes along my local  trails, plus two excellent walking holidays abroad, (Costa Rica and Menorca), I can happily say that it has been another good year.
Looking back to Capri from ridge to San Costanzo
I count myself very lucky. Living where I do at the tip of the Sorrento peninsula, I am spoilt for choice. 
I do not necessarily have to go far. I can just close my front door and choose: I may wander down to the village of Nerano and on to the bay of Jeranto, in summer even including a swim.

Alternatively, I may take the opposite direction and walk to Termini, before heading off to Punta Campanella and climbing the steep and panoramic ridge to Monte San Costanzo with its 360° views of the surrounding countryside and coastline.
If I want to go a little further afield, the whole of the Amalfi Coast is at my fingertips. The famous Path of the Gods and the Valley of the Mills are just two of the more famous routes, but there are many, many more. 
For any of you who have never been to this area, do consider a visit. 
Our trails may often be quite rough underfoot and the signage not so great. We have an awful lot of  uphill and an awful lot down. Steps abound. However I can assure you that the views are second to none, and as for the flowers in springtime and early summer.. it is a botanist’s delight.
View from Path of the Gods towards Positano

For more information of hikes in this area, visit http://www.sorrentoamalfiwalkwithus.com/




 

Monday, 22 December 2014

HIKING – A PASSION



Yesterday was the second pre-Christmas annual meeting of the Campania trekking associations.
As per last year, it was held up on Faito, part of the Monte Lattari chain of “mountains”, high above the Sorrento peninsula. It was a brilliantly sunny day, be it with a chilly wind blowing from the North.
To get to Faito, the road is somewhat long and tortuous, however an incredible number of people had made it to the top. There were entire families, a small baby swaddled in blankets, family dogs on leash and off leash, groups of friends of every age range, all  united by one passion: the love of trekking, of being out in the open, of enjoying the wonders of our surroundings.
Before setting off on the hike to our picnic spot, we were entertained by the Zampognari playing traditional Christmas tunes and more. Some people improvised a Tarantella dance, linking arms and swirling around to the music.
The hike then took us gently through the woods, the trees now bare of their leaves which carpeted the ground in hues of russet and gold. We continued around the mountain edge  and up a ridge to Bandera,the amazing views of the entire Sorrento peninsula stretching out before us.
Rucksacks were opened and out came the food – frittata di  spaghetti, cheese, salami,  traditional Christmas biscuits and cakes, torroncini (nougat), mandarins, clementines and much, much more. The wine flowed, toasts were made and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the cars before dusk closed in.
An excellent day for all.
View from Bandera

More photos at: https://plus.google.com/photos/107739648364476946320/albums/6095342877679222769








Tuesday, 9 December 2014

GLI ZAMPOGNARI – or Christmas is coming.



This morning, whilst I was at home working at my computer, I could hear the distinctive strains of bagpipes drifting up from the village. I have always preferred the sound of the Italian zampogne to that of their rather more piercing Scottish cousins and of course here they mean that Christmas is on its way.
In fact December brings the zampognari down from the hills and into the towns and villages to spread a little Christmas cheer in exchange for a coin or two or a glass of wine.
 
A little later, the door-bell rang, and outside were the 2 musicians, (they usually play in pairs), dressed in their traditional shepherd’s attire of sheep-wool waistcoats, hats and breeches. One of them was clutching the zampogna (bagpipe), the other the ciaramella, a kind of rustic oboe. 

They proceeded to play to their solitary audience of one, plus 2 dogs, who even managed not to bark, growl or howl.
The Christmas spirit was definitely in the air

Sunday, 7 December 2014

FAVOURITE SPOTS ALONG THE TRAILS (5) – CAMPO VETAVOLE, MONTE SAN COSTANZO



Around 400 metres above Punta Campanella along the steep climb up the ridge towards Monte San Costanzo, you come to a small plateau. In the winter, when the vegetation is scarce or in the aftermath of a bush fire (there was one just weeks ago), the old dry stone wall terracing is very evident, giving you some idea of what it must have been like years ago when the locals maintained and cultivated the land. Nowadays, all that remains are the tumble-down walls crisscrossing the surface. In the spring and summer these are virtually hidden firstly by a sea of pink asphodels, then by a variety of grasses and a myriad of wild flowers. It is an area loved by butterflies and myself. 

Walk towards the edge of the plateau overlooking the sea to admire views of the Amalfi Coast, Li Galli islands, the chapel of San Costanzo perched on its hill top and on a very clear day, the Salento coast stretching into the distance far away.
You don’t necessarily have to face the climb to reach this spot. However I would recommend it for the fantastic views of the Bay of Jeranto along the way. You can also take the easy way setting off towards the end of the road after Monte San Costanzo where there is a path leading off to the right.
Following this you will come to an ugly cement platform compensated by the views towards S.Maria Annunziata and Massa Lubrense, Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples in the background, before descending to the left towards Vetavole.


Choose a rock and enjoy the peace and quiet of this special place. Or wander around, admiring the huge variety of flowers, the lizards, the butterflies and when you are lucky, you may see dragonflies hovering in the air or posing on a twig.
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