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.