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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

VISETTI'S FAVOURITE TRAILS (6) - CAPRI - MONTE SOLARO

Walking towards Cetrella from Monte Solaro
For his next favourite trail, Giovanni Visetti takes a jump to the island of Capri and the ridges to the east and west of Monte Solaro.
This route (a combination of paths 6,5 and 4 on the map) follows the edge of the imposing southern cliff of the island between  Guardia and the Eremo (hermitage) di Cetrella, passing Migliera, Cocuzzo and Solaro. 
Setting off from Anacapri, we walk along typical caprese lanes to the Torre di Guardia (at about 200masl) before turning onto path 6 that will take us to Migliera. Anyone wishing to spare themselves these 700 metres, plus a further hundred or so uphill, can go directly to the Migliera Belvedere, but will miss out on some interesting views. In fact, to the side of the trail, which passes through a shady pinewood with no issues for sufferers of vertigo, various view-points, have been created right on the edge of the cliff protected by metal railings, 

Now comes route 5 that will lead us up to Monte Solaro, which at 587m is the highest point of the island . This part, (almost 2km), is the longest of the three and has an extremely steep central section with a total elevation gain of about 300 metres. The climb to Monte Cocuzzo, (photo above) seen from the zone known as Pisco  is impressive and seems almost an impossibility,  but once you reach the top you will not regret it and in effect it is not as bad as it seems. On your way up, do not forget to look to your right where you will see an outcrop covered in pine trees.
Pros and cons of Monte Solaro: it will be full of tourists (mainly via the chairlift) and who are probably the first people you will have seen since leaving Migliera); to compensate there is a bar (closed in winter), where you can get something to drink, and rest facilities.
From here on it is downhill along a simple, pleasant path (700m approx.) as far as the Eremo di Cetrella.  You will have splendid views of the eastern part of Capri (including the Faraglioni and Villa Jovis) with the Sorrento peninsula to the back extending from the nearby Punta Campanella as far as the Molare. Depending on the visibility, to the left you may see the entire Bay of Naples with its other islands and Vesuvius and to the right the Gulf of Salerno with the Li Galli isles and, even further away, Punta Licosa. 
Now to decide which route to take on the way back, since the 3 more common and marked trails have very different characteristics. The simplest is the well trodden ancient mule track that will lead you back to Anacapri, although if you wish, before you get to the centre, you can go directly to the Scala Fenicia (Phoenician Steps) that descend directly to the port. The other two options ( 1 Passetiello and 2 Anginola) are much more adventurous and are only for the more experienced and well equipped. In any case they are to be avoided in rain, ice (they are exposed to the north-east so in winter this is a possibility) or if it is very damp. Anginola has a short, virtually vertical part, which luckily is made simpler and safer by the strategically placed chains and ropes that some kind soul at some stage positioned there. Giovanni has included a video which will give you an idea..
This whole route can of course be done in the opposite direction (to be advised if you wish to go via Passetiello or Anginola), but if you are going to return along the mule track from Cetrella to Anacapri, Giovanni suggests doing it in the direction he describes. All the trails numbered on the map are easily followed being popular and well worn, as well as having red waymarks
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I usually go to Capri to hike about once a year, (the ferry is absurdly expensive), and have walked this route on several occasions. Since we usually go via Anginola, we do it in the opposite direction. I personally would not be at all confident in descending either via Anginola or Passetiello and even in ascent, they are definitely NOT for anyone suffering from vertigo. The very first time I faced Anginola, I blocked half way up the vertical chain-aided part and had to be given a helping hand to complete it to the top. With time it has got easier, but I never, ever look back and down on that short stretch! The last time I went via Passetiello, a few years ago now, some of the rocks we had to clamber up were so high that we were literally hauling each other up to the top.Neither are for the faint-hearted, but if you fancy the challenge, then definitely up rather than down.

Link to altitude profile and other info
Link to entire map of Capri
Link to video of Monte Solaro to La Guardia 

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