Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Path of the Gods - Open or Closed?

The Path of the Gods has been appearing in the local press rather frequently over the past few weeks, which is hardly surprising when you consider that the hiking season has now started in earnest and that  the most famous and popular route of this area is still  officially off limits. 
Yes, for anyone who has still no realised this,  the trail has been "closed" to the public since 17th November 2017, when the local authorities of Positano issued an  ordinance banning access to a part of the Path which had collapsed following  heavy rain. Since then, another small stretch disappeared over the edge elsewhere, but as far as I am aware, this one was never the object of any prohibition, although in my opinion just as risky, if not more so, than the first.
In spite of the "closure",  to start with there was very little clamor  and certainly not much publicity. People continued and continue to walk the trail, sometimes in considerable numbers and often accompanied by guides -  there is no control and little to warn people of the situation. 
It was only recently, as the start to the hiking season approached, that the first murmurings of discontent were heard. Various  foreign Tour Operators, warned by their conscientious local guides,  became aware of the situation and  began  cancelling or re-organising their walking tours. In fact, as any true professional guide knows, if there is an official ban on a path, then you  do not take groups along it. No discussion. Since should an accident happen, not only will the Insurance people laugh in your face, but you yourself and your Company will be  liable and likely to end up in a lot of very expensive legal trouble.
Unfortunately not everyone seems to realise this, or prefers to ignore it,  and the walk is still being promoted and guided by unscrupulous people with very little respect for the law or the safety of their customers. Moreover, the Path of the Gods is often still being  mis-sold which is something I have complained about before. I read a tragi-comic post today on Facebook where a lady who had been inquiring about this hike was astounded to hear that it wasn't the simple stroll she had been  led to believe: 
"But what do you mean...? They told me that the Path is for everyone, that it is open to everyone and anyone can do it, that I can even bring  children, that you do not need specific equipment and that I can do it with gym shoes or running shoes and that - if I want to - I can also bring the dog, and now you are telling me that precautions are needed ...?". 
It has to be said that the authorities have a lot of to answer for with regard to the present situation. In 6 months not only have they failed to make the necessary repairs, but they have also done absolutely nothing to make sure that the ordinance is respected. About a week ago, there was at long last an inspection carried out by  various members of the local authorities, civil engineers and Regional Parks people to start evaluating and planning the work needed. It is said that the Regional Government has promised the funding, so technically the money is there. The problem is that this is 6 months too late. As anyone who lives in Italy knows, bureaucracy is incredibly slow and there are multiple hoops to jump through before anything tangible gets done. Hopefully I will be proved wrong but I doubt it.
However all is not lost. Although the "cowboy" guides continue to take their blissfully unaware customers along the traditional and more usual Bomerano to Nocelle linear route,(probably because they know no other), there are other options which will still allow you to get more than a taste of the spectacular nature of this walk. You can set off from Bomerano and walk a circuit following the upper path from Colle Serra and returning via the lower one, or you can walk from Bomerano to Praiano (or vice versa) either via San Domenico or via the 327B, preferably using the services of one of our excellent and reliable local guides!
And here is the link to the recent Blog published by Giovanni Visetti on the same subject

Wednesday, 11 April 2018


The footpath to Punta Campanella has been the subject of several of my blogs since it was restored 2 years ago, officially in order to make it accessible to all. 
From the very start I and others raised our concerns that the initial lack of any form of barrier was an open invitation to all forms of motorized traffic and it was not long before mopeds, motorbikes and small cars started making their appearance along the path, in spite of a sign forbidding this at its start.
In time, and after considerable pressure on the local authorities, a barrier appeared. The padlock lasted a few days and since then I have never, ever found it closed. 
More recently, during the winter, a new road sign appeared, slightly more visible than the previous one and in three languages. Such a pity that it is full of mistakes! When I pointed this out to the local authorities (the Comune), I was told that it was the remit of the local police and nothing to do with them. I find it extremely difficult to accept that nobody thought to check it first but once again it is not for us to wonder why!
Whatever, the total lack of respect and the total lack of any form of control, sporadic or not, has now turned the path into a freeway, especially at weekends. 
Giovanni Visetti in his latest blog: "Motocross along the Punta Campanella path, so much for the disabled!" paints a pretty dismal picture of the present situation, having himself found a group of motorcyclists right down at the tip of the trail last weekend. Not one to stay silent, he asks how come the many people who criticized, denounced and opposed the project at the time now remain silent in front of the havoc that is being wrought along the final stretch of the trail.
As you can see from the photos, it is in a pitiful state and, in just 2 years, virtually back to what it was before its restoration. Even worse, what was once a peaceful and relaxing stroll in the fresh air  is fast becoming polluted by the noise and smell of motorbikes ridden by their uncivilized owners who also expect the walker to get out of their way (and fast) to let them pass. 
The local Council has been talking a lot recently about the importance of our paths, having woken up to the fact that they are an excellent incentive for tourism in our area. There are even projects for Associations to adopt and maintain a path. All very laudable, but what about this one which is probably the most important due to its historic value alone?
Now that the tourist tax has been doubled for the coming season I can only hope that some of the money is used to take the necessary measures here: and that means instigating an efficient and effective way of ensuring that access is limited to those on foot. Start with finding a way to keep that barrier down. Put some cameras in. And if that is all too difficult, maybe send the traffic wardens down for a walk at key times to raise a few fines (extra money for the Council after all!).