Monday, 25 January 2016


Punta Campanella as it was
Over the past few months there has been a lot of angry talk about the renovation work being carried out along the path to Punta Campanella. The project's aim was (and still is) to make the trail and the promontory accessible to all, since apart from the magnificent views of Capri and the coastline, the area is steeped in history. 
Punta Campanella now (photo Nino Aversa)
At the promontory there are still traces of a what was once a Greek temple built in honour of Athena,subsequently converted by the Romans to a sanctuary devoted to Minerva.In the 14th century a watch tower, still standing today, was erected to guard against the marauding Saracens. For anyone who dares descend the precarious flight of steps down between the split in the cliff to the original mooring point, there is even an Oscan inscription to be seen carved into the rocks .
First part of the path (photo Nino)
Returning to the works, one of the main bones of contention has been the apparent destruction of the natural dry stone walls and original stone paving, and their replacement with reinforced concrete, raising concerns about the  impact on the flora and  the permeability of the terrain. Not having seen the work myself, I refrain from comment.
Further down (photo Nino)
Today, Nino Aversa (local hiking guide and founder/owner of the Sorrento Hiking Company)  published a series of photos on Facebook and a short description of the work to date.
The first part of the path has been paved with limestone and the walls rebuilt (most of this stretch had in fact already been cemented previously, but badly).The rest of the trail is still beaten track but the roughest parts and the holes have been levelled/filled, making it much more accessible. The traces of the Roman road are still there.  The original ancient cuts in the rock (at Cancello and along the path) are also intact. The house next to the tower, which was  tumbledown and quite frankly an eyesore, has been demolished
The path is still NOT accessible since the work is still to be completed. To be quite honest I do not know  whether work is in progress at the moment or has been suspended (following the protests there are various investigations in course) or when the path will actually re-open. My main fear is that once it does,  it will become yet another thoroughfare for mopeds or worse. Now that would be a total disaster.

Saturday, 9 January 2016


The last of Giovanni Visetti's favourite trails is probably the best known of the seven, taking us from Punta Campanella up to the paths around Monte Santa Croce.
view from Rezzale
The route is almost completely visible from the sea and much of it  from Punta Campanella as well. Its profile can also be seen from Sprito on the way to Jeranto, but many people take one look at it and give up on the idea before even starting. And yet it really is not  impossible, being relatively short: just 1500m as far as Campo Vetavole where the climb is virtually over and with it the best panoramas.
If you decide to go for it, Giovanni suggests starting from the area above the Torre Minerva, at the end of the ancient road,  going steeply uphill at the edge of the cliff until you come to the sharp bend of a cemented track (alternative path) which is the belvedere of Rezzale.
Here you need to start following the red/white CAI signs (and not the cement track). From now on  the only way is up, but the spectacular views provide an excellent excuse for stopping  every now and then to catch your breath and take photos. Do not forget to look back towards Punta Campanella and Capri as well as down to the Bay of Jeranto. 
Once you reach Campo Vetavole, you have a choice of 4 diffferent ways of returning to Termini, each one interesting and panoramic, but some best at particular times of the day.
As you can see from  this segment of the map, when following the ridge along the CAI300 trail, you will find three intersections, all to the left and in this order:
  • Vuallariello path, almost completely level, perfect for enjoying the sunset. This will take you to the spectacular entrance to the path Le Selve  which will lead you to Cercito, just a few hundred metres from Termini.
  • the path to the belvedere/cement platform above the 1973 landslide at Mitigliano and the simplest way of getting to the road to San Costanzo. This too is excellent for  sunsets.
  • the old CAI300 trail that follows the ridge up to the "radar" enclosure, before continuing to the right below the fence. This is perhaps the most challenging and certainly the steepest. From here the view of Capri  is one of the best.
If you ignore these three turnings, you will remain on the present CAI300 path which, having left the ridge, continues more or less on a level until you come to the pinewood. This trail is the most exposed of the four, and whilst not particularly dangerous, if you suffer from vertigo, you might disagree.
Giovanni (and I concord )  advises not to walk the ridge in the opposite direction (ie downhill). It is very steep and there are a lot of loose stones which make it slippery. Uphill is much better, inspite of its steepness, unless you are particularly fit and sure footed.
At present, the path to Punta Campanella is closed for restoration work, so in order to complete the classical Athena Trail (Termini - Campanella - San Costanzo - Termini), we will have to wait for its re-opening. This should be imminent, since at least 80% of the work should have been completed by the end of 2015. Even if the area around the tower may still be off limits, hopefully it will soon be possible at least to reach Rezzale and from there join the CAI300 path.

Video of the Athena Trail 
Link to Giovanni's blog

Sunday, 3 January 2016


Marina del Cantone from path to Jeranto
I was looking back on 2015 and thinking how lucky I am that so many of the best hikes in this area are right on my doorstep.
If any of you are planning a visit to Sorrento or Massa Lubrense, here are three that you really should  not miss:
Bay of Jeranto
the Bay of Jeranto - a spectacular bay, part of the natural marine reserve (so no boats), with a small pebbled beach just a few kilometres walk from the village of Nerano. As you stroll along the path, you first have views of Marina del Cantone with the Amalfi Coast stretching out behind, and then views of the island of Capri peeping out from behind Punta Campanella. The beach can get very crowded in the summer, inspite of the fact that the only way to get there is on foot. However the walk itself is lovely and if you venture onto the quarried plateau, in springtime you will find a profusion of wild orchids.
Giro di Santa Croce
Next is the new Giro di Santa Croce - this has substituted the walk to Punta Campanella, presently off limits due to restoration work. The departure point is the village of Termini, and once out of the village the path takes you first up through shady woods before bringing you out onto the open hillside with the island of Capri straight in front of you. The path continues  parallel to the coastline and for any botany lover, this walk is an absolute must. Even in December there were flowers everywhere. I actually prefer this walk to the original one to Punta Campanella.
View from Pizzetiello (Sirenuse Trail) towards Capri
Last but not least, I suggest the Sirenuse Trail, setting off from the village of Torca (or Sant'Agata if you wish to make it longer). There is a steep but fairly short climb to get to the top of Pizzetiello, but it is well worth the effort. Once at the top, in one direction you have views of the southern side of the Sorrento peninsula , in the other, the Amalfi Coast. As you descend down to the Colli, you have the Amalfi Coast to one side and the Bay of Naples to the other.

All these hikes are described in more detail on my web site at these links:
Jeranto from Nerano 
Giro di Santa Croce
Sirenuse Trail (Malacoccola)

View of Bay of Naples (left) and Amalfi Coast (right) from Sirenuse Trail