Saturday, 22 July 2017


The fires have continued  relentlessly all week, although fortunately the latest  have been smaller and more rapidly dominated. The Amalfi Coast road has re-opened following its closure due to the risk of falling rocks. From the photos of the rocks that were dislodged, it was a very good job that it was closed. Hopefully when the first rain arrives, this will limit the risk of any more coming down.
Meantime Giovanni Visetti went up to Santa Maria del Castello to investigate the state of the trails around there and in particular the Forestale. The news is not good. This is what he says:
"The situation, bad enough as it is,  is even worse from a hiker's point of view . In fact, many of the trees, still standing but already weakened and burnt by fires from previous years, have now fallen across the path making it virtually impassable. Certainly the more agile and enterprising will manage to climb over or around them, but  not without getting scratched and covered in soot".
Giovanni himself, who is lithe and athletic but not so keen on getting dirty, managed to walk just a few hundred metres to the Forestale and roughly the same distance to Erbatenera. The eastern slopes of Valle Pozzo beneath Santa Maria del Castello have burnt, whilst higher up it is the western slopes that have gone up in smoke. Further on, the fire has spared nothing, right up to Conocchia and Sant'Angelo a Tre Pizzi (Molare, Canino & Catiello). 
The morning of Giovanni's reconnaissance there was just one small fire to the west of the cross of Vagnulo and towards midday the helicopter arrived. He had a bit of a surprise when he came across  a removable swimming pool beside the short path connecting the road to the belvedere at Santa Maria. It was not there for the locals to have a refreshing dip but to enable the helicopters to load up more quickly with the water  to put out the fires.
In all this bleakness there is however some good news  - the fire did not extend to the west of Positano (Monte Comune and Capodacqua) and here all is intact. Let's hope that it remains that way!

Photos courtesy of Giovanni's blog

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


Many of you will have heard about the terrible fires that are once again plaguing our area. There is little point in debating the reasons why. Suffice it to say that we have had no proper rain in months,  and that the terrain was more than fertile...
One of the areas most recently hit is in the hills above Positano and Montepertuso where there is a popular network of trails.
A keen walker and local guy, Andrea Milano, has reported on the state of the main paths beneath Sant'Angelo a Tre Pizzi and between Montepertuso and S. Maria del Castello.
"The following CAI trails have definitely been affected by the fire:
329, 329b, 331 (Valle Pozzo), 300 (the stretch Castagnole-S.Maria del Castello)
- from Valle Pozzo to S.Maria del Castello: to be avoided at all costs, especially the central part. Falling rocks.
- Canestrelli Trail (from Montepertuso to Castagnole): already tricky pre fire due to thick undergrowth , it is now to be avoided at all costs as per Valle Pozzo.
- Pinewood Montepertuso / Valle Pozzo: still a lot of smoke, all the bush has gone and some pine trees. Ok  from the Montepertuso car park to the  spring of Dragone  and to the junction with Le Tese for S.Maria del Castello. The western area of ​​the pine forest and the upper part of  Valle Pozzo are to be avoided due to falling rocks.
- Castagnole, Caserma Forestale, Conocchia and up to  S.Angelo a Tre Pizzi: all burnt and clean. Ok to walk but ATTENTION along the stretch from Colle dell'Ara to the  Caserma (Forestale building),due to falling rocks.
- Above Nocelle, Campo dei Galli: the undergrowth has burned, no evident danger. However pay attention to where the fence is.
- West side Monte Gambera: holm oak wood –similar situation to the Montepertuso pinewood.
- The hole of Monte Gambera (Montepertuso): to be avoided for the moment due to falling rocks

The “falling rocks” problem will be ongoing, until the first rain and frost.

If out walking, pay attention, especially to tree stumps; if you find one smoldering, try to put it out & call 1515. "

Original text in Italian at FB page Camminate

Friday, 14 July 2017


Many of you, being keen hikers, will already be acquainted with Giovanni Visetti's website, where you can find a wealth of maps covering most of the trails of the Sorrento Peninsula and the Amalfi Coast.
Well, I have some good news for you all. Giovanni has decided that it is time to move with the times, and has consequently started adapting his maps in order to make them more compatible with tablets and smartphones.
Freed from the constraints of having to fit everything onto a sheet of A4 paper, Giovanni has identified the 7 areas of main interest to hikers (see the picture below), three of which are connected to each other (maps 4, 5 and 6).

Capri is on its own, and the other 3 are the classic Campanella, San Costanzo, Santa Croce and Jeranto (map 2), the trails between Marina del Cantone and the hills of Fontanella (map 3), and the Valley of the Ferriere (map 7). The latter not only covers Scala and Amalfi but extends north to Cervigliano and Santa Maria ai Monti (including Scalandrone and the woods of Santa Maria) and west to San Lazzaro, including Acquolella, Cospita and Murillo.
Anyone even faintly familiar with the territory of the Monti Lattari will realise that the 3 remaining maps cover just about all  the hills between the road at Colli San Pietro (311m, linking Sorrento and Positano) and the tunnel of Agerola (701m, linking Castellammare and Amalfi), extending north to Faito and Sant'Angelo a Tre Pizzi (1.444m) and therefore include hundreds of kilometres of trails across the southern slopes. In order not to make maps 4 and 5 too big, Giovanni has divided them (but included an overlap) along the axis Santa Maria del Castello - Positano and therefore the two trails linking these localities (Tese and Valle Pozzo) figure in both of them.
Here is a preview of map 5 (from S.Maria del Castello to Bomerano) which in addition to  the previously mentioned links also includes Forestale - Conocchia, the rockfall (frana), M.Tre Calli, M.Catiello, Vagnulo and the Path of the Gods.

Apart from the maps of Capri and San Costanzo/Campanella that are on a larger scale, the GIF files of all the other maps have the same scale (1:15,000) and  the same dpi. Consequently, apart from a few minor tweeks, they are uniform and the 3 that overlap should be easily assembled.
Another novelty is that where possible the updated numbering of the CAI (Club Alpino Italiano) trails has been included.
Giovanni is also working on a new website that will be entirely and exclusively dedicated to hiking, so watch this space!

Monday, 10 July 2017

FAITO - a never ending saga

A few weeks ago, we went to Faito for our Sunday hike. It was exactly a year since our previous visit, but this time we had to drive up the long, twisting and ultimately  pot-holed road, rather than take the cable car from Castellammare di Stabia. 
Faito has not had the best fortune over the years and the sporadic closures of the Funivia  certainly haven't helped. Inaugurated in 1952, the cable car became the quickest (8 minutes) and most convenient way to reach the cool and shady woods of Faito. The area blossomed, becoming a popular summer resort for families wanting to escape the intense heat of the cities. 
In 1988 the cable car ground to a halt for two years, and then 
in August 1996, a three year old girl disappeared in the woods, never to be found again. There have been many theories as to what may have happened, but Faito quickly fell out of fashion,  the summer houses were left empty and the whole place took on an air of decay and neglect. It was no longer considered safe and there was also talk of it being a hide-out for people on the run.
However time is a healer, and over the past few years the place was gradually returning to life, becoming a popular destination for hikers, cyclists and picnic makers, especially during the hotter summer months. The cable car was an added attraction, not only saving a tedious car or bus journey, but an experience in itself as it shuddered and bumped its way to the top,  offering amazing views of Castellamare, Vesuvius and the plain of Naples far below . Then in 2012, it closed again for major maintenance work and we were back to square one.
Four years later, on 4th May 2016,  accompanied by the fanfares of local politicians proclaiming the rebirth of Faito, it re-opened. The few local businesses that had survived the interim years thought that their problems were over. False hopes unfortunately, since the 2016 opening was just putting off the inevitable. Further urgent intervention was essential to bring it up to the requirements of present-day legislation. Why this wasn't done the first time round, who knows?It is not for us to wonder why.
So work began once again in January of this year, but as is often the case, there were further complications which led to the original projects having to be modified, new authorizations needed and everything being delayed.
I had occasion to go to Castellammare on the train at the beginning of June, and the lower cable car station looked like a war zone. When we were up in Faito the other week, the top station was enclosed in scaffolding and looking little better.
It was meant to be ready for May, then they said July. The latest news suggests that it may be ready for mid August, but who knows and in any case yet another year has been compromised . This is a real shame. Faito is not only a hiker's paradise with its network of trails, its spectacular views and  its magnificently cool woods, but an ideal place to take the family for a picnic or out for lunch, leaving the heaving, seething beaches behind. And so much more enjoyable by Funivia!