Week 1: Bomerano
We began our 3-week holiday in the small town of Bomerano, approximately 3 miles west of Amalfi on the Amalfi/Sorrento peninsula. Bomerano is well away from the tourist hullabaloo, and being set in the hills away from the coast not as oppressively hot as Amalfi.
Our accommodation for the week was Le due Torri, a small family run hotel and restaurant: www.hotelleduetorri.it
We found the organisation of the hotel excellent (as was their food and wine!). Roberto, the hotel's main contact for Brits, speaks excellent English and can be contacted via the hotel's e-mail address email@example.com. The hotel also has available transfer to/from the airport in Naples, this service being provided by a chap called Eduardo. Eduardo lived in Britain for a number of years and speaks excellent English; he can be contacted via the hotel's e-mail.
Day 1, 13 June: Praiano
If there is one abiding memory of walking in Amalfi/Sorrento peninsula it will be stairs! One of the marvellous things about this part of Italy is how the villages have been built on the precipitous cliffs that form the coastline of the peninsula. The cliffs are so steep that, historically, paths had to have millions of steps: a typical example being the 1700 steps down to Positano! Anyway, day one began a little cloudy and we opted to do the 4-mile walk to Praiano.
This photo was taken at the end of the walk looking back down the cliffs. At the beginning of the walk this view was obscured by cloud!
Looking west along the peninsula.
The path descends towards Praiano.
Stairs, stairs and more stairs!
Day 2, 14 June: Amalfi (but not quite)
It's fair to say that not very many folk walk in this part of Italy. This day's walk demonstrated the low number of foot traffic along even recognised footpaths and trails: the walk to Amalfi was often very overgrown! Also trail markings did not always agree with the maps, and the map details of roads and trails sometimes did not agree with what was on the ground!
We thrashed our way through long sections of footpath, after which we decided not to drop down to Amalfi but rather to take a different track home. The map we had showed a trail that looked as though it would be interesting. After we became completely confused by the map, what should have been an 8-mile round trip became a 15-mile route march, and after nine hours walking were we glad to get back to our hotel!
At times the path was somewhat overgrown!
At other times the views were just splendid!
Amalfi can be seen on the left in this photo. We were now heading back to Bomerano, still confident that we could depend upon the maps.
By this stage the effort was becoming a bore. And no further photos were taken on the day.
Day 3, 15 June: 'The Path of the Gods'
As the name hints, this is the walk that folk come here to do. And it has to be said that this walk is a cracker: taking in everything that makes the Amalfi/Sorrento peninsula so special. The path begins in the town square of Bomerano, is well marked and maintained, and takes you to Positano. We opted not to descend the 1700 steps to Positano (from where you can get a bus back to Bomerano for E3.00), but rather enjoy a beer on the balcony of a small restaurant high on the cliffs above Positano, and walk back to Bomerano.
This photo was taken approximately half a mile from the start of the walk in Bomerano.
On well-marked and maintained paths the route follows terraces high up on the cliffs.
You acquire new friends on the route!
You gradually approach Positano, and every part of the walk offers magnificent views of the peninsula.
Positano is best viewed from the sea, as we did in a couple of days, but on this occasion we settled for an aerial view.
And a beer!
Day 4, 16 June: Herculaneum
Eduardo kindly drove us to a railway station on the north side of the peninsula from where we took a train to Herculaneum. Advice we had received, and supported by Eduardo, was that of the two sites Herculaneum was more rewarding than Pompeii. And I have to say that I was 'blown away' by our visit to Herculaneum - I have taken far more photos than can be displayed on this page. The site is just magnificent!
You enter the site on a high walkway that looks down upon the once buried town. The site is quite small, and completely surrounded by the modern town.
Before you descend the access ramp to the site you are able to see Vesuvius, the volcano that buried the town in AD79.
The streets, complete with subsurface sewers, have curbs and footpaths.
This is a panorama of a crossroads: these two streets are at right angles to each other.
Many of the buildings still have their original render, upon which can still be seen decoration.
The wide lens distorts this image, however the wall decorations are still very clear!
Where possible the original beams have been retained and reinforced. The original beams were largely turned to charcoal consequential to burial by the volcanic material.
Tiled bathing rooms for both men and women.
Luckily the site was sufficiently free of modern build to allow the excavation of the original shoreline. Herculaneum was a seaside town, and in this photo (taken from the entry ramp) you can see the pre-burial shore complete with storage rooms for traded goods, etc.
Having excavated the entire available surface free of modern build, archaeologists are now tunnelling into the pumice under the modern buildings to explore the buried town further.
One such tunnelling revealed a temple to one of the Roman gods.
Bronze deity on its plinth, just as it was revealed.
For our return to Bomerano we opted to get the train to Sorrento, where we boarded the hydrofoil to Amalfi, from where we got the bus back to our hotel. The hydrofoil trip has to be one of the best bargains available; for E7.50 a 1-hour 15-minute trip around the peninsula is a must-do!
Awaiting the hydrofoil at Sorrento.
We zoom past Capri.
Stop briefly at Positano.
And finally arrive at Amalfi.
The church square at Amalfi: definitely not the place to stop for a beer, as we found out to our cost!
Day 5, 17 June: Capo Muro
By this stage of the holiday we were keen to do a summit. The nearest to Bomerano is Capo Muro, and also ended-up as a bit of a navigational problem. The maps have trails indicated that have no track on the ground, and the ground has trails that are not marked on the map!
Looking back towards Bomerano, snuggling up to a precipitous drop over the escarpment!
The view from Capo Muro along the peninsula towards Capri.
Day 6, 18 June: Valle delle Ferriere
We took the bus down to Amalfi and did this walk into the gorge of Valle delle Ferriere. This is an excellent walk, the first part of which is on well marked and maintained trails. The second part (unless you retrace your steps back the same way you came) deteriorated into the usual chaos!
Steps, as ever, take you out of Amalfi.
You wander into the gorge, which at the beginning was cloudy.
Past precipitous crags.
To a stunning waterfall.
Trying to follow the trail on the opposite bank resulted in yet more bushwhacking!
On Thursday 19 June we took a train from Naples to Pisa, where we were to be collected by Julie's parents and spend a week in Barga, Tuscany. Barga is the ancestral hometown of 25% of Julie's genes, and back in 2006 (click here for link) we spent some time looking for long lost family. Were we successful? You bet your boots we were, as the second week of our holiday will show!