Monday, 29 June 2015

When in Termini... another option for an interesting hike.

On hearing the news that a group of local volunteers had cleared one of the ancient paths that used to link the village of Termini to the fertile terraces of Campo Vetavole on the slopes of Monte San Costanzo, we decided to go and try it out. 
Once we managed to find the start of the path (at the moment there is no clear signage, and as you will see from the photo below, it is none too evident), we followed the trail  steadily uphill. It was a little steeper than we had expected (always look at the map properly...), but perfectly feasible and above all nice and cool, thanks to the thick foliage above and around.
After walking for approximately 400 metres, we came to the caves, where apparently the villagers took refuge during the bombardments of the Second World War. Straight after these is a flight of steps climbing between the rocks and as we reached  the top, we came out of the shade and were  dazzled both by the sunlight and the views: over to the left on the horizon the island of Capri, straight down below , the bay of Mitigliano and far to the right Vesuvius peeping out from behind the coastline of the Sorrento peninsula.
From here on the track that has been cleared has nothing to do with the original three routes that took the locals to their terraces (see Giovanni Visetti's map, dotted green routes). Instead the new path goes steeply uphill for a short stretch before joining  the trail that links  the cement platform of the Belvedere (to the left)   to the CAI 300 path to the right.  We went first to the viewpoint, before turning back and walking towards Campo Vetavole, finally making our way along the CAI trail high above the Bay of Jeranto (utterly spectacular views but definitely out of bounds for sufferers of vertigo) and on to the pine woods of Monte San Costanzo. 
The newly cleared path was initially acclaimed as the ancient Vuallariello. It isn't, although this is probably the name that will stick in people's minds.   
In  a recent blog, Giovanni Visetti,  with the aid of documents from the land registry and the testimonies of some of the older inhabitants of Termini, shows that  the first stretch   is actually Vic. Le Selve, and that the true Vuallariello, (which has not been cleared),  actually starts a short way beyond the steps. Whatever, the new trail offers another opportunity for an excellent hike, and I can only hope that it maintains its present state and doesn't swiftly return to a state of overgrown abandon.
Brief instructions on how to reach the path:
From the village square in Termini follow the indications to Punta Campanella. Walk down the road and turn right at the bar/kiosk (always routed Punta Campanella). As you come to a very tight bend going steeply downhill, do NOT follow the "main" road, but go straight ahead towards the dead-end along what is Via Cercito (when we went there was just a bit of paper stuck to a pole indicating the name of the road!). You will find that the lane goes behind some houses. Keep on going until you have passed a large white house to your right and come to an intersection. Here keep straight on (ie do not go down to the right). A few metres further along on your right is what looks like a patch of waste ground. This is where the path starts. From then on, it is simple.Once you come out of the woods, up the steps and reach the upper path, you can complete the loop by either walking up from the Belvedere to the road and then back down to Termini via the shortcuts or along the road, whichever you prefer, or you can follow the more panoramic but slightly scarier route  we took. Whichever you choose, it is worth also including the short trek up to the chapel on the top of Monte San Costanzo where you can enjoy yet more amazing views.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Massa Lubrense to Sorrento - an update on the state of Via Fontanelle plus an idea for a circular hike.

Following the landslide on 4th March 2014 which took away a substantial stretch of Via Fontanelle together with a couple of houses, one of the paths from Massa Lubrense to Capo di Sorrento, part of red route 1 of the Progetto Tolomeo (Giovanni Visetti's map), was for a while inaccessible, since as you came out onto the road from the footpath, straight ahead of you was a glaring gap where the road had once been.  

To be honest, it didn't take long for an alternative itinerary to be devised, (more of that later), and having heard that work had at last begun on repairing the damage, I decided it was time to go and take a look.So on Sunday we set off from the centre of  Massa Lubrense, taking first a picturesque detour via the fishing harbour of Marina Lobra before strolling along the seafront to San Montano, walking up to the main road and  joining the official red route at the rough steps going steeply up to the right just after the bend .
From the path at the top there are some great views of Capri peeping out from behind the headland before you come out onto   a fairly narrow lane. Passing olive trees and lemon groves,  you will eventually come to another flight of steps, this time going down. In damp or wet weather these can be  lethal , but for once they were beautifully dry and the next stretch of path was surprisingly well maintained and clear of vegetation.
Once back on the paved road, we quickly emerged at the scene of the landslide. This was not a pretty sight, but it was evident that work had begun and was progressing, with a newly created dirt track  for the trucks and diggers to move the debris downhill for loading onto the bigger lorries waiting on the main road. Being Sunday all was quiet. 
There was absolutely no way that you would want to attempt to cross the landslide, even were it allowed, so we turned up the road following the indications for blue route 1, past the station of the cross and through the wide gap in the orange netting used to discourage (but evidently not prevent) access. 
I had heard that you could cut through a private olive grove to shorten the other significantly  longer detour via Li Simoni, so once round the bend, as soon as we spied a rough dirt track leading steeply up to the left between a gap in the kerbstones, we took it. This led us very quickly into a clearing with a few olive trees and a large house to our right. We ventured a few metres further on and there down to our left was the other side of the original road. It took literally a couple of minutes.
Back onto the pre-landslide route, rather than continuing on to Sorrento, we walked down to Capo,  back for a couple of hundred metres along the main road, direction Massa Lubrense, before heading down to Puolo and the beach.
We had been hoping for a refreshing swim there, but it was like hell on earth - rows and rows of sunbeds and garish sun umbrellas, people everywhere. It was chaos. So we pressed on and walked back to Massa with just ourselves, the olive trees and the views for company.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Now that it is getting hot, what could be better than combining a rewarding hike with a refreshing swim?
The Bay of Jeranto, part of the  Punta Campanella Marine Reserve, can only be reached on foot, which is something we should all be grateful for. I remember clearly how some years ago, before it became a protected area and when boats were still allowed access, how hoards of people would disembark onto the tiny beach transforming it into a heaving mass of noisy, sweaty bodies. The bay itself fast became a day port, full of boats of every shape and size and if you wanted a swim, you risked getting scythed by propellers. Add to this, the smell of fuel and the noise of the motors, any hope of a peaceful and relaxing day by the sea  quickly vanished. 
This has all changed. It can still get crowded (especially at weekends in  the summer) , since more and more people will actually walk there. However the sea is usually crystalline and  in it you will find just  fish and the occasional swimmer or two. Occasionaly there will be a kayak, , sometimes even a pedalo from Marina del Cantone (but you need particularly strong legs to do that), but a boat is rare, unless it is the official and authorised boat of the Marine Reserve. 
The walk to Jeranto is one of the most picturesque around here. Once you leave the village of Nerano, the first views are of the bay of Marina del Cantone with Li Galli islands  and the Amalfi Coast beyond. As you proceed,  two of the 3 "peaks" come into sight with an ancient defence tower perched between them. The best is yet to come though, since as you start the descent towards the bay, all of a sudden  Capri's Faraglioni rocks appear out of nowhere and as you continue down, the whole of the Jeranto, its abandoned quarry to the left, opens out before you.
If you are not in a hurry to get to the beach, I strongly suggest you first walk up to the tower to admire the views from there and then go down to the old quarry and walk to its furthest point beyond the site's buildings. 
From there you will have a magnificent view of Capri and Punta Campanella.

For the full itinerary, please visit this link:!jeranto/c1gfz