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Monday, 2 March 2015

LA SPERLONGA di VICO EQUENSE



For some time I had wanted to try out the trail of La Sperlonga, historically one of the main routes linking Castellammare to Vico Equense before the coastal road was built and said to be part of the ancient Via Minerva which went all the way to the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula to Punta Campanella.

The path starts off to the side of the cemetery near the church of San Francesco, which is well out of the centre of Vico Equense and a lot higher up. There is a little bus that goes there (infrequently), or if you are driving, the road is one of those narrow, winding affairs where you will probably end up having to reverse several times to let the locals pass.
However once you get there, the walk is really relaxing. You cannot miss the path since there is a fairly new sign declaring “La Sperlonga Ecopasseggiata". There is nothing steep, either up or down, which makes a change for these parts. There are no sheer drops.The surface varies from paved to stony to beaten earth. It really is a piece of cake and you can enjoy the views and the vegetation without worrying too much about where to put your feet.
After a while you come to the spring of the Sperlonga. This used to be an important and strategic point of refreshment both for travelers and for animals, the water always clear and cool, coming down from the heights of Faito. Today it was in full flow, fed by the abundant rain we have had recently.
The path continues, winding around the hillside. Admittedly we did not follow it all the way to Pozzano (near Castellammare) since we had heard of a landslide that blocks the path at some point along the way.
So we limited ourselves to ambling past the incredibly well-tended olive groves, enjoying the first flowers of the impending spring, including a solitary almond tree in full blossom, until the path became a lot narrower and the surface not quite so good and we turned back. 
It was interesting to see the views from this side of the peninsula, used as I am to the Amalfi Coast or the area around Massa Lubrense. In one direction we had the Bay of Naples, Vesuvius ever present, be it  with its head in the clouds, the sea as calm as calm, the white sails of a regatta dotted here and there on its glassy surface. In the opposite direction we could see the steep cliffs bearing the towns of Vico Equense and beyond it Seiano. You could just about make out the tip of Capri peeping over the headland. Nearer to us, clinging to the hillside, the distinctive red of the church of San Francesco. A pity about the incredibly ugly monastery attached to it. 
To complete our morning, once back at the cemetery we walked up the road to the church and on to the viewpoint. There were some rather horrendous religious artifacts up there, but the flowers were lovely and the views magnificent.







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