Monday, 29 February 2016


Yesterday I returned to a trail  we once used to walk a lot, but which I hadn't been along for a couple of years: Santa Maria del Castello to the Forestale, part of the CAI100.
Apart from being superbly panoramic, with its views of Positano far below, and not particularly taxing,  it also forms part of  a selection of circular walks as well as being a means of venturing further afield such as climbing all the way up to Faito via Conocchia, or continuing beyond the rockfall (Frana) to Capo Muro, i Tre Calli and Bomerano (Agerola). 

A few years ago a particularly bad forest fire destroyed many of the trees along this route, leaving it in a state more reminiscent of a disaster zone than the green and pleasant path we were used to. Whilst it is evident that a good number of the burnt trees have been cut down and the wood removed or stashed in piles, it is very much work in progress (or rather work seemingly not in progress), since there are  still an awful lot of dead  and charred trees hanging  precariously onto the hillside, ready to fall. We had to clamber over, under or around at least 4 large tree trunks that were obstructing the trail and following today's gale-force winds, there will probably now be more. 
More distressing was the state of the Forestale building. The actual house appears to be in excellent nick and  there are now a couple of wooden tables and benches on the terrace making it a great place for a picnic lunch. However the state of the outbuildings was not a pretty sight, with one door gaping open to display a toilet full of debris  and the other revealing what can only be described as a rubbish dump. I will spare you the photos. To complete the picture, a rusty frying pan full of rain water was on the ground outside, together with a wheelbarrow. Definitely not a good impression for any hikers passing through.
I will be contacting the relevant authorities in the hope that a little spring-cleaning may be carried out before the hiking season starts.

Link to map - our hike today was the loop Positano (Corvo) - Le Tese - Santa Maria del Castello - Forestale - Monte Pertuso - Positano

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Hiking in 2016 - are we ready?

Agerola from Tre Calli
I have just been reading an article about the preparations being made in Agerola for the start of the new tourist season which, for them, is just a couple of weeks away.
Agerola is particularly privileged in having on its doorstep the Path of the Gods , however it is also well placed for other stunning trails: the Valley delle Ferriere, the Tre Calli, the Pino Ravine (also known as Sentiero di Abu Tabela) and many more. From all accounts the clearing and cleaning of the trails is already underway, funded by the tourist tax, since "tourists are our guests and our first task is to clean our house". 
Over the past few years Agerola has become increasingly popular as a centre for hiking with an increase in just 4 years of 300% in bookings at its hotels, B&Bs and agriturismo. This is widely merit of the co-operation between the local authorities and tourist operators who have understood not only where to concentrate their efforts, but also that each needs the other to be successful.
This year they are aiming at a season lasting 10 months which is several months longer than  is generally the case in the Sorrento peninsula. Here  the season starts around Easter, (which this year is early, but can be mid April), but is over and done with by the end of October.
Whilst Agerola is busy preparing its trails, the local council  of Massa Lubrense was promoting its own territory at the BIT Trade Fair for Tourism  in Milan, keen perhaps to follow Agerola's example and use the network of  trails and the natural beauty of the Sorrento peninsula as a selling point to entice more visitors to our area. This is good news, but now we need to see  results, and these will depend not only on the cooperation of the local businesses but also on the ability of the authorities to put actions into words.
Sorrento, as we know, is content to limit itself to the business supplied by the international tour companies with their back to back 7 and 14 night holidays. Visitors  get herded to Pompeii, Vesuvius, Capri and the Amalfi Coast but see and experience little more. They spend their money in the town and everyone is happy.
Massa Lubrense however needs to concentrate on something different and more specialised, especially since  in recent years the holiday season has shrunk alarmingly, with the place packed out at weekends and in July and August, but not at any other time.
As anyone who follows my blog will know, we have some fantastic trails and spectacular scenery in this area. There is no reason at all why we cannot follow the example of Agerola and not only increase the number of walkers to this area, but also lengthen the season, something which can only be beneficial to us all.


Thursday, 4 February 2016


Some good news today - the cable car linking Castellammare di Stabia to Faito, out of action since 2013, should be back in service from 25th April this year.
Faito used to be a place where people would go to escape the heat of the summer, enjoying picnics and walks in the shade of its chestnut and beech trees. There were summer homes, many chalet-style, unusual for this part of Italy, and recreation areas including an outdoor swimming pool. And of course the trails.
However over the years things changed. Faito began to take on an air of increasing neglect, and the demise of the cable car marked a further and  serious decline in its fortunes.
Faito has some fantastic paths, but without the cable car it was a bit of a pain to get to, the buses unfrequent and un-reliable,  more likely to break down along the way  than make it to the top, and the road, apart from being long and tortuous, having definitely seen better days. 
It is however one of the best places in this area for summer hiking, not only because it is fairly high up (1300/1400m) and often breezy, but also because its woods provide a canopy of shade. There are walks for everyone, from a simple stroll to a steep scramble and you can make them as long or as short as you wish. If you make it to the top of the Molare (1444m), you will be rewarded by 360° views: the Bay of Naples, Vesuvius,the Amalfi Coast, the Sorrento peninsula with Capri at its tip. However even if you limit yourself to walking to  Casa del Monaco or along the ridge from the cable car station to the Santuario di San Michele, you will still be able to enjoy panoramas that are second to none.
For more information regarding the hikes,just  follow this link. 
Hopefully  the restitution of the cable car service will mark the start of the revival of Faito and a return of both locals and foreign visitors to its trails!