Surreal Amalfi Coast and Capri
Surreal Amalfi Coast and Capri, with its head in the clouds and its feet in the sea, the precipitous Amalfi Coast has long been exalted as the most spectacular coast in all Europe. Across the blue bay of Naples is enticing Capri, a jewel of an island sheering out of the sea. With hikes on ancient footpaths connecting hilltop villages and seaside hamlets, we explore this glorious realm surrounded by amazing landscapes every day. We also get an insider’s view of the charm of the Italian South as we watch buffalo mozzarella being made, taste homemade pastas, enjoy picnics, explore out-of-the- way Paestum, and finish with a hike on the outer rim of Mt. Vesuvius. Our Trip Leaders are the best in the world, with a true passion for sharing their love for this corner of Bella Italia. Follow us on Facebook!
DAY 1: NAPLES (OR ROME) /HERCULANEUM/PAESTRUMWe meet in Naples (or Rome) airport. Then we head to the fascinating remains of Herculaneum, a city engulfed in the legendary eruption of 79 AD along with the more famous Pompeii. Our afternoon visit to Herculaneum is a chance to learn about everyday ancient Roman life. We walk between rows of preserved Roman shops and houses, and along street after street that still show the marks of the ruts worn by chariot wheels in the paving blocks. Public life centred in the forum, or marketplace, where temples adjoin businesses and houses. In the market stalls were found charred nuts, fruits, and loaves of bread left by merchants in their flight. In the afternoon we drive to Paestum, south of Naples. Accommodation in hotel and dinner.MT. VESUVIUS AND HERCULANEUM”]The infamous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius started in the morning with steam, gases, lava, and flames. Later a hail of pumice stones was followed by a torrent of white ash. For nearly two days, ash fell like snow on the doomed city. Most of the people escaped as the eruption began. Those who sought refuge in cellars were suffocated or crushed under falling roofs. The eruption left Herculaneum completely buried 60 feet under by a mudslide of sand, ash, and lava that hardened into tufa rock. The thriving cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were never rebuilt and over the centuries were forgotten. In the 18th century, a well digger turned up a marble statue on the site of Herculaneum, which caused the local government to try some excavation, but the deep covering made digging difficult and excavations were abandoned. In 1927, the Italian government resumed the excavation of Herculaneum and today large parts of the city are open to view.
DAY 2: PAESTRUM/AMALFI COAST (MINORI AND RAVELLO)/AGEROLAAt Paestum, home to three of the best preserved Doric temples in the world, we spend the morning exploring the beautiful temples and artefacts found in the area, now housed in Paestum’s museum. After the visit, a drive of about 1.5 hours brings us to Minori, with lunch en route.. Minori is a lovely village of seafront promenades tucked into a deep inlet on the Amalfi Coast , and is famed for its pastry shops selling local treats such as delizia di lemone, a creamy delicacy flavored with lemons grown along this coast. Our afternoon walk begins here and follows a trail that winds across staircases and paths to the exquisite hillside town of Ravello. From Ravello we will drive to our hotel in Agerola area, a beautiful village surrounded by rich, bucolic farmland, with wonderful Mediterranean views. Overnight in Agerola.Breakfast in hotel. Packed or picnic lunch. Dinner in hotel
10km, 350m total ascent, 4 hours
DAY 3: FROM RAVELLO TO AMALFIWe take a short ride to reach Ravello. In this magical town, it’s easy to conjure images of medieval life while strolling through the alleys, stairways, and roofed passages. We explore town on foot, including Villa Rufolo, then start our hike right from town, following a network of trails, stairs, and pathways. Our terrific 4-hour hike, much of it stone steps, brings us uphill and downhill via the little hamlets of Scala, Minuta, Pontone, and Vallone delle Ferriere, all perched in beautiful settings along the coast. There are panoramic vistas over the shimmering blue sea as we hike, and we enjoy a packed lunch on a shaded terrace of a village square en route. Once we arrive in Amalfi town, 1,200 feet below Ravello, we can visit the Museo della Carta (the Paper Museum— Amalfi was once a regional centre for paper-making) housed in a 14th century building, explore the narrow alleys of town, then return to Agerola by coach. Dinner and overnight at hotel.Breakfast in hotel. Packed or picnic lunch. Dinner in hotel
14km, 400m total ascent, 5 hRavello: Located on the small escarpment of Monte Lattari 400 mt (1,200 feet) above the Amalfi Coast, top-of-the-world Ravello offers spectacular views over the Gulf of Salerno. French author André Gide described Ravello as being “closer to the sky than the seashore.” It is no wonder then, that this elegant town, with its clear, sunny climate has appealed for centuries to writers, artists, musicians, and travelers. Boccaccio, D. H. Lawrence, and Wagner are among the greats who succumbed to the spell of Ravello. Wagner partly composed his opera Parsifal here. Ravello also boasts two magnificent villas: the magnificent 11th century Villa Rufolo and the Villa Cimbrone, a 20th century home with extensive gardens and gorgeous views over the Gulf of Salerno.
DAY 4: AGEROLA/THE SENTIERO DEGLI DEI/POSITANO-CAPRI
We get an early start on the fabulous Sentiero degli Dei (“Path of the Gods”) from Agerola to Positano, one of the finest walks on the Amalfi Coast. This panoramic 4-hour walk leads through groves of Italian cypress and fields of wildflowers, past ancient stone huts, and across precipitous hillsides and narrow ledges overlooking the sea. At walk’s end, we reach stunning Positano, arguably the most beautiful town on the Amalfi Coast. Perched high above the coast, it is filled with brightly painted houses covered in bougainvillea. If ever there was a picture-postcard town, Positano is it! After a quick stroll around town, we transfer to Sorrento to catch the late afternoon ferry to Capri. Dinner is on your own tonight. Overnight in hotel on Capri.
Breakfast in hotel. Packed or picnic lunch
13km, 500m total ascent, 4:30h
Note: the main luggage can be left at hotel in Agerola, so that you can carry with you only luggage necessary for 2-nights stay in Capri. For the ferry ride, we transport one large bag per person to/from the island of Capri. All other items are considered hand luggage, and you will carry your own hand luggage on and off the ferry.
DAY 5:CAPRIRoman ruins, high trails with sweeping views, and stone-paved lanes fragrant with lacy swathes of wisteria characterize the craggy isle of Capri. This welcoming Mediterranean retreat is surely one of the most beautiful in the world. This morning’s walk of about three hours begins from the town center with a hike on cobbled lanes up past villas and flower-filled gardens to Villa Jovis (“Jupiter’s Villa”). This was the home of Tiberius from 27 to 37 AD. Successor to Caesar Augustus, Tiberius ruled the Roman Empire from this villa for the last ten years of his reign. Views from Villa Jovis stretch out over the entire Gulf of Naples. We continue our hike on lanes and staircases along Capri’s southern coast to the Arco Naturale, a natural opening in the stone cliffs, with panoramic views as we reach the cave called the Grotta di Matermania, in which a few Roman walls remain. During Roman times, the cave was a Nymphaeum (a shrine connected with water). Because this natural cave is lit by the rising sun, scholars suggest that it was a temple to the ancient goddess Cybele. Later we enjoy a delightful lunch at a waterside restaurant in Tragara, with eye-popping views of azure sea and the famous gray spires of the Faraglioni Rocks, familiar from the many movies filmed in Capri. Weather permitting, we offer a boat ride this afternoon around the Faraglioni Rocks and up the coast to the town of Marina Piccola. In Marina Piccola, we can take a swim, rent a kayak, or just relax on the beach and enjoy dolce far niente—doing sweet nothing! Breakfast in hotel. Lunch in restaurant. Dinner is on your own tonight. Overnight in hotel on Capri.
DAY 6: CAPRI/SORRENTO/AGEROLA
Departing our hotel, we start the steep uphill climb from sea level to Mt. Solaro, the highest point on the island, at about 1,700 feet. The walk passes chapels and gardens, then a secluded monks’ retreat above the cliffs. At the summit, we can feast our eyes on sweeping views of the two gulfs, Salerno and Napoli, with Capri in the foreground. We take the chairlift down to the centre of Anacapri, where we can enjoy the more residential part of the island. After lunch on your own, the afternoon ferry carries us across the waters to sunny Sorrento, with its old town high on a cliff. We enjoy a wonderful afternoon walk through walnut and olive orchards near an old convent, then continue down through farmlands, passing along stone walls and groves of lemon trees, with views of beautiful Capri in the distance. Dinner is at a local restaurant, than transfer to hotel in Agerola for overnight.
Breakfast in hotel. Dinner in restaurant
10km, 300m total ascent, 4 hours. Optional afternoon walk: 5km, 150m ascent, 2h
DAY 7: AGEROLA/VESUVIUS/AGEROLAA morning drive bring us to Mt. Vesuvius, and we head out for a hike on this famous volcano. There are exquisite views of the coast as we walk around the far rim of Vesuvius, ultimately gazing into the steaming abyss of the volcanic caldera. We have lunch on the slopes of Vesuvius before returning to Agerola. We gather for our farewell dinner tonight. Overnight in Agerola.Packed or picnic lunch. Dinner in hotel
12km, 350m total ascent, 5 h. Breakfast in hotel
DAY 8: AGEROLA/NAPLES
Breakfast in hotel then transfer to Naples (or Rome) airport for departure on homeward-bound flights (or to the Naples central train station).