“Take a deep breath before dipping into the Path of Gods ” Is this the view that from on high along the Path of the Gods, opens to our sight: it is the picture of the great loop of the Amalfi coastline that looks towards the west, towards the Island of Capri, that precipitous coast, steamy, hot, with the crystalline mountains where the gods of today are forsaken and you find a lost self again. The Mediterranean, before you.”
Take a deep breathe we did, as we hopped on the local bus at 7 am to head up the hill to Nocelle (Nocella) for the start of our walk . We have skipped our posh brekki and have packed some water, 2 oranges, a handful of grapes, a bag of pistachios and some loo paper – all in the backpack that the baggage controller is carrying.
Chug chug chug goes the bus, with us and one other couple clearly dressed to go walking . Jenni our host told us “at that time of the morning it will only be people doing the walk on the bus”. The road to the top from anywhere here, go up quite steep and the gorges down in some places are ridiculous. I look up out of the window and see rock formations with stalagmites (fall down) and then the bus driver hits the brakes and I look forward to see him as he waves a car back, so we can crawl past. The bus drivers are amazing and rely on their mirrors, or so says Mr Wong the baggage handler sitting beside me.
At our guest house last night, we asked Jenni which part of this walk we should do. There is lots of conflicting ‘go from the West to the East’ type information on lots of online sites. Well anyone that knows me, knows that compass shit doesn’t work for me and quite frankly just like when we were in Ayers Rock ~Northern Territory in Australia, and the Valley of the Winds, who cares if you actually stop for a second and look behind you…. It’s what we all should do. Either way it’s breathtaking……
The other young couple ask the bus driver to tell them where to get off the bus, our instructions were already clearer, Jenni had said you get off at the last stop….. Well really it’s a dead-end at the top of the mountain and the bus can’t go any further anyway. We get off and the first thing I saw when we got off the bus was a donkey. Of course I take a quick pic of said donkey and I wanted to pat him, but he already looked a bit cranky, so I just said hi to him and walked to some stairs that I hoped were in the right direction.
A lovely man speaks to me and asks if we are doing the path to the gods, I answer yes…… he tells me in broken English where to go to find the start of the path, I hear the word down and go yep that’s us. Steve has already told me that we will be approx 540 meters above sea level, as we have chosen to do Nochelle to Praiano. A walk that should take approx 3 hours.
We head off and down the first of many steps and start our journey through lane ways of this sleepy little town, before we actually then head up to the cliff walk of the gods…and off we go, our young friends take off and it’s not long before we can see them a couple of bends ahead. We travel for about an hour before we saw someone else coming in the oposite direction. We also run back into our young friends from the bus who aren’t really sure where they are going, so they decide to head back the way we came.
To me this amazing trek is like the Blue Mountains on steroids with an ocean to the right of us and what an ocean it is. The walk is tough in places, hard on your knees and you really need to watch where you are going. The only good thing is you don’t have to worry about snakes and the spiders are easy to see because they make these cute little beds in the foliage and you can see them.
The ground is uneven, slippery and that’s right, there is nothing between you and the cliff face….. don’t look too far down and don’t do this if you suffer from vertigo. I only get vertigo, when I’m stressed so it’s all sweet. As we enjoy this amazing walk we can see for miles, it’s quiet until you hear people coming towards you, and each time we stop andchat about where we had started, how long we had been traveling and where we planned to stop.
The map we have has an ABCD reference of where you could start or finish. It’s stinking hot and the sun is beating down on us for most of the way along the cliff top it’s only in the gulleys and gorges the sun isn’t so direct. As we sat and had a drink and watched the sun rise higher into the sky, a group of about 6 people came on by with 4 dogs ……. They weren’t allowed to eat my grapes, so we part ways and off we went again. It’s hot.
Finally we saw a sign that not only said toilet, but it was the beautiful convento San Demonico, a convent high above the town of Praiano. This is the half way point in our trip ! That sign said toilet and down, so yep that’s us….
Now I gotta be honest and say I’m a bush wee gal from way back, and when I saw how far down we had to go, I just did a Margot, ( that’s my mum who taught me all that girl guide stuff including how not to wee on yourself ) found a bush and off we went again.
When we arrived at the convent, we had passed one old man trimming his grape vines right on the side of a cliff that we are climbing down. We called out “Ciao” and he waved as he kept working. At the convent although it appeared to be closed up, but there was a picnic area and there was a toilet ( no I didn’t go again ), a Mulberry bush that reminded me of my childhood, a fig tree just like the one I have in my front yard from my Papa’s garden and lots of lights and beautiful stone paths. It’s well maintained and we guess they must hold concerts here.
Just below the convent we met a man and a lady carrying those big Chinese kind of shopping bags that looked quite heavy, they were sweating and asked me if I wanted him open up the convent, I replied no we were just passing, and just said how beautiful it was, he agreed the panorama was stunning, we said goodbye and he told us that the town of Praiano was about 20 minutes away….. Well considering how high we were, I thought he was kidding, the path down although extremely steep had lots of steps so we did ascend down quite quickly , again the old knees and Achilles were screaming after 2 hours so it was tough as and I felt like I’d been on the stupid stepper at the Gym….. Jelly legs!
Our journey ended the same way we started, lane ways winding through the back of a village , pretty with gardens and tiles in the pathways, and then I nearly died…… More stairs and you know what I counted every bloody one of them 179 to be exact!
Thank god for coffee and a chocolate croissant, we had earned it. Plus that was all that was open a coffee bar! The church across from the cafe was having a wedding so I toughed it out and went down another 40 stairs to check out the “Chiesa ” and the flowers. We then had to wait about 40 minutes for the return bus and let’s just say standing up on a bus going a round the bends with your knees and legs screaming at you ….. I couldn’t get to the beach quick enough and of course you guessed it, it’s a Trek down stairs to the beach! Ah no pain no gain.
All in all a great day and a very spiritual one in many ways.
Ah…….Amalfi, Ravello, Nochelle, Sorrento and a few little treasures in between.
It’s been the most amazing time here on the beautiful Amalfi coast, both up high in the hills and down low on the beaches.
Hiring and riding a scooter along the main highway through sleepy little villages, seeing weddings, funerals, the odd horse n cart and a few cranky donkeys…. I’d be cranky too if I had to do the path of the gods on a regular basis.
The new and old worlds meet here in an eclectic way that makes you so happy to see it. I haven’t seen one argument on the roads, in Australia we’d have road rage and injury~ the only time you toot your horn is if you are warning on coming traffic that you maybe hogging the road, the bus drivers tell you to stop or go depending on how much room there is.
The Nonas and Nonos still grow their produce in their back garden, whilst the younger generations have turned the family 500 year old house into a guest house, they have passion in their country, their food and their familia.
Imagine being able to tell your 4th generation child that their great great grandfather built this house and that his mother had a vision to re build a guest house 25 years after her mother who also had the vision, died quite young …… It’s powerful stuff and to experience it has been so heart warming.
Mrs. Wong and Wongster