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Monday, 9 February 2015

THE VALLEY DELLE FERRIERE (Amalfi)

The Valley of the Mills (part of the Valley delle Ferriere) is probably the second most famous Amalfi Coast hike after the Path of the Gods. So long as you stick to the traditional route setting off from the centre of Amalfi and going straight up the gorge before either coming back the same way or proceeding up to Pontone, there is not much you can do to go wrong.  
However there is a fairly complex network of trails converging on the head of the “valley” that are again not as simple as they are sometimes made out to be, partly due to the nature of the trails involved, but also due to a number of intersections that can cause confusion.
In one of Giovanni Visetti’s latest blogs, he offers some suggestions and advice regarding the Valley delle Ferriere.

As you can see, his map indicates a selection of trails and  intersections. These are by no means all of them. There are others, including official CAI routes. However the ones Giovanni has marked are those most commonly hiked. He divides the routes into basso (lower), between Pontone and Amalfi (with a deviation up to the protected Riserva Naturale), and alto  (upper) between Pogerola and Scala (Campidoglio, Minuta or Pontone).
This is what he suggests:

  • crossing the Canneto (the brook flowing down to Amalfi) from the upper trail at Fic' 'a noce  is not always a simple matter, especially if you don't want to get  wet. The rocks can be used as stepping stones, (easier for people with walking poles/sticks), but these can be very slippery. The best method is to take off your boots and wade across barefoot. The water isn’t deep but it can come up to your ankles...
  • for anyone wanting to get to Pogerola  from Fic''a noce, the intersection to the north of  Punta Cianfone (indicated by the red arrow) can be misleading . Pay attention here! If you go straight on taking the initially wider and flatter path , you will end up in the lower part of the valley joining the Giustino Fortunato trail between the Riserva and Tavernate. To reach Pogerola, you have to follow the trail to the right, one that many people completely miss inspite of the red and white CAI signs. This short but steep track   passes through vegetation before bringing you out onto a panoramic viewpoint  (quota 468 on the map).
  • the section of the Giustino Fortunato trail between the Riserva and Tavernate is not advisable for anyone suffering from vertigo and there are a couple of points where the utmost attention is required, especially when the rocks are wet or  just damp, even more so  if you are going downhill. Your footwear, and in particular their grip, can make a huge difference here.
  • another misleading intersection, but not as bad as the previous one, can be found when walking from Pontone towards the Ferriera.  Shortly after leaving the paved stretch, do not take the path descending back towards the valley, but proceed uphill for a dozen or so metres to the right of a small construction belonging to the aqueduct.  Straight afterwards, go down to the left and round a couple of little bends, continuing along a flat path towards an old bridge that you can see ahead of you. Walk over the bridge and in a couple of hundred metres you will come to the Ferriera. 
  • remember that the Riserva is a protected area and that visits are regulated. If you wish to go there, you will need to check when it is open and arrange this. Every year the procedure changes.
    For my part, I have walked the main trails of the Ferriere many a time. I am particularly fond of the Upper Trail, walking from Pogerola and winding round the valley towards Scala.There are a couple of small streams to be crossed along the way, where I am always grateful for a helping hand (not having the best balance and being afraid of falling in..).It can also be very slippery here and there as I know to my expense! However once you emerge onto the farther side of the valley, the path opens up and becomes a lot easier and of course the views are simply magnificent!
    If you do not feel like adventuring along these trails by yourselves, there are first-class local guides who will accompany you. If you prefer to go alone, make sure that you have a map, that you are suitably clad, and that someone knows where you have gone. Do not rely on your mobile phones, there is rarely a signal.

 
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