At the end of the visit to Pompei, which I mentioned in my previous post, we headed towards the Amalfi Coast, where we stayed in Agerola. Instead of driving to Salerno and passing through Amalfi, we preferred to go up Mount Faito and access the opposite side which overlooks the Agerola plateau. Our arrival on the Coast was greeted by a beautiful hailstorm and strong winds that did not bode well for the next day: we had to face a trekking of about 23 km between Furore and Positano and return to Agerola, following the famous ‘path of gods‘.
We stayed at the B&B Divine Cost a small family run structure. Upon arrival we were offered a quick welcome cocktail with excellent homemade biscuits and we received lots of information on where to go and especially where to shop for local products. The rooms, furnished in a simple way, are equipped with every comfort and are spacious. Even the breakfast did not disappoint us because, in full respect of the Campania tradition, it offers a wide and abundant range of sweet and savoury dishes. Agerola is a very characteristic small town which, unlike the well known ones on the coast, does not overlook the sea but represents a good starting point to visit Positano in the north and Amalfi in the south. It develops in the middle of a basin rich in cultivations and above all in vineyards, obtained in characteristic terraces that since 1997 have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a characteristic landscape of the Amalfi Coast.
Secrets and legends of the Path of the Gods
The Path of the Gods is so defined because of the spectacular landscape views but also because of the many stories and legends about it. Since ancient times it has represented the only connection for wayfarers and merchants between the villages of the coast (Positano, Hellenic colony) and the settlements of the hinterland (the Agerola plateau). Here, goods such as bran, coal, milk, spices, wood, textiles, precious stones, ceramics, wines and oils were passed by mule or simply on foot. Other stories and legends tell of how this path was used by bandits, criminals and smugglers who found refuge, hiding place and security here due to the inaccessibility of the place. It is told of ‘U Magio‘ (the magician) who kept a book where you can find both happy events and ominous omens and of a sow who, on full moon nights, turned into a monstrous creature that terrified passers-by. The path that was once trodden by Greeks and Phoenicians, today is crowded with many tourists and trekking enthusiasts.
Trekking on the Path of the Gods
The path starts from Agerola, more precisely from the hamlet of Bomerano, which connects it to Nocelle, a hamlet of Positano perched on the slopes of Mount Pertuso. As it develops, it touches the Grotta del Biscotto, the pass of Serra hill, some other natural cavities and the characteristic Grarelle valley . In about three hours of walk you can reach the village of Nocelle, situated at 440 metres above sea level: a little known but extremely characteristic hamlet of Positano, until a few years ago isolated and reachable only through an impassable flight of steps: 1500 steps that connect the village to the Amalfi State Road and the beaches.
One of my small suggestions: even if it is considered an easy and accessible path for everyone, I only recommend the path to average expert walkers with appropriate clothing (refrain from flip-flops!). Some stretches, due to the exposure of the path to wind and bad weather, are even steep and very exposed. I suggest to walk the first stretch, mainly flat, until the fork in the fountain, which also offers a breathtaking panoramic view.
Visit to Amalfi
At the end of the race which, for those interested, is called Amalfi Wine Trail, we headed to Amalfi for a walk in the characteristic historical centre. Obviously, since it was December, many shops were closed and the number of tourists was much lower than during the warmer periods, but we could still enjoy the intimate and characteristic atmosphere of the small squares, covered alleys and steep stairways. We bought some excellent limoncello at the Flavours of Amalfi, one of the many typical shops in the centre. Here, for three generations, this world-famous liqueur has been produced according to a recipe handed down from grandparents. It is possible to taste it and also visit their workshop where it is possible to discover the artisan techniques of production of limoncello and other liqueurs typical of the Amalfi Coast.
Dinner at Minori
At the suggestion of a colleague and friend of the place, we have booked dinner at the Locanda del Pescatore (Via San Giovanni a Mare, 25, 84010 Minori SA) in Minori, a small village a few kilometres from Amalfi, characterized by an enchanting little harbour overlooking a small bay. The name derives from an ancient Roman villa of the 1st century A.D., probably belonged to a rich personage of the imperial court who wanted to build it on the small sheltered bay. The villa can still be visited, but it was not possible for us because of the timetable. Once Minori was rich of mills, also to grind the wheat, because it was crossed by a stream, from which the ancient tradition of this village in the production of pasta and sweets, so much to be known as the City of Taste.
The scialatielli are a typical fresh pasta, strictly handmade with flour purchased at the old mill of Minori
The dinner at the Locanda del Pescatore was excellent, in the name of tradition and good fish. Gerardo, the owner, has been able to advise us in the choice of the courses, also according to the season and the availability of fish, giving us some gems about the recipes and the scialatielli, typical fresh pasta strictly handmade with the flour bought at the old mill of Minori. The courses are very rich, served on splendid ceramic plates in the multicoloured style of the Amalfi tradition.
At the end of the dinner, we could not miss a taste of some delicacies from the famous bakery Sal de Riso, “Pastry Chef of the Year 2010/2011”. The cabaret of pastries is a blaze of tradition and innovation, where the choice is really difficult for the assortment and beauty of the production. We have opted for the ‘lemon delight’, a sponge cake with lemon juice custard and covered with a sauce scented with the skins of “lemons Costa di Amalfi IGP”. A soft sweet cloud, with all the flavour of the sun and the lemons of Amalfi. In short, a stop in this pastry shop is a ritual, if passing through the Coast.
The next morning we were woken by a beautiful sunny day. We therefore decided to reach the panoramic area above Agerola to enjoy one last time before leaving the wonderful view of the coast.
Of course we couldn’t leave this land without some culinary souvenirs. At the suggestion of the owners of the Divine Coast, we stopped to buy some typical products, including provola, ricotta cheese to grate and mozzarella, ‘directly from the bucket’, i.e. just flan.