On a previous vacation I’d heard talk of it while eavesdropping but when I asked a cab driver he clearly thought it was too much effort, so I placed it in that receptacle in your brain labelled “Might be possible one day”.
This time, while traipsing the superb Via Krupp on the Isle of Capri, a fellow Australian evinced a picture of grandeur that set my mind racing. People’s eyes light up when they remember the great things in their lives; clearly this had been one such occasion in this man’s life. He shared concise directions and I was smitten, it became number one priority. (The Krupp walk was built in 1900-1902 so the wealthy German arms family, particularly Friedrich Krupp, could have easy access to nearby Marina Piccola where their marine biology research yacht was moored. However, it was fervently rumoured that it was also used by Friedrich at nights to access a cave where orgies with boys were held. Friedrich was asked to leave Italy in 1902 and committed suicide one week later.)
Back on the mainland, my new focus entailed a 50-minute bus trip on the legendary road to Amalfi from Positano, a 20 minute wait and then another 30 minute bus trip upwards to a town called Bomerano, one that tourism has almost passed by. Bomerano has a satellite called Agerola, and that’s where the walk actually commences, specifically at the Piazza Capasso.
From there it’s a bit of guesswork until you reach the sign Via Sentiero Degli Dei – Path of the Gods. How could one resist such a named via? The track unfolds along ancient trails, past terraced hillsides, some in use, others succumbing to disuse and the ravages of time. Elsewhere the cliffs rise dramatically above and disappear below. This is not a place for those suffering acrophobia but, the further you travel, the more scenic it becomes though I found it hard to believe that was possible, such were the vistas at the start.
Others share the trail. First there is the slow old Italian duo with their walking sticks, then the man with the gun over his shoulder. He was hunting quail, I discovered during a brief reassuring conversation; something I had to admit I’d never aspired to do.
Next was a man unloading a mule, the only means of servicing his property. I paused soon after for refreshments at an appropriately sited picnic table. Here, the view to Positano was dream like, and dream I did. The call of the Sirens and visions of historic vessels upon the waters were called to mind as I dwelt in this mystical spot and understood why, in spite of the difficult access, people would choose to work here, especially in the balmy autumn weather. I could understand also why the mythological Sirens lured sailors with their haunting tunes and why they felt compelled thereafter never to leave.
The kiss of the wind on my face roused me from my torporific state and I arose and descended some more of the 1,700 steps en route to Positano. The gods were obviously fairly fit if they laboured along here with any regularity.
Then I came across a tour group from Peregrine Travel, led by Francesco, a man born in New York who now lives here. Amazingly his group were Australian, all 15 of them. Unfortunately 3 were from Geelong and we all know what they wanted to talk about. Francesco lamented that his normal clientele of Americans and Brits had severely declined but had been replaced by mainly Aussies.
I stayed with them till we came upon two other locals with 4 mules collecting wood. You can believe me when I tell that there’s the same amount of room on the trail then as when two buses pass on the Amalfi coast road, i.e., none, and it was frightening when I looked behind me as one of the logs brushed me sideways and I saw the abyss below as I struggled to remain upright.
The white specks of Positano were looming larger after three hours when I walked into one of the high villages and on to an actual road. My feet were pleased. I continued on past Monte Pertuso, a dramatic outcrop, whose name appropriately means a mountain with a hole in it, before descending steeply to the motel past lonely outposts and cascading waterfalls.
A reinvigorating shower and a rest were then had but there was more in store. The day had not yet finished with its wonders. Walking past the gaily lit restaurants that night we chose the Saracens because it was crowded. The atmosphere was lovely with a mandolin and guitar being picked for background noise. However, after an hour a silver haired gent arose from a table and, with appropriate hand gestures, sang one song, then O Sole Mio. We patrons were well pleased. He arose another two times, wafting Santa Lucia and Funicolare among others in his smooth tenor voice. Was it enjoyable? Let’s just say the whole restaurant gave him a standing ovation. It was, after all, the opera.