A warm, typically Italian welcome from the local staff at Hotel Due Torri accompanied by a chilled glass of wine and a platter of mouth-watering antipasti got my first trekking holiday off to a great start!
The Amalfi Coast is a beautiful region of Italy steeped in history and according to the brochure, this eight-day trip promises to encompass the best of it; sweeping coastal scenery, picturesque walks, cultural discovery in Pompeii plus time to relax and unwind.
It certainly delivered on all fronts. Each day brilliantly different with leisurely walks along the floral-scented trails and course after course of delicious Italian cuisine, from classic dishes like melanzane alla parmigiana to local specialities such as dentice – a local fish favourite infused with fresh regional herbs. But it was the last day of the trip that really lingers in the memory.
Following breakfast, we made our way through Bomerano to a mozzarella producer on the outskirts of the village. A small family business that has passed down through the generations, this little cheese shop was the bustling hub of the community. After watching a cheese-making demonstration given lovingly by the owner who was clearly very passionate about this family tradition, I bought some of this delicious handmade mozzarella di bufala and mingled with the locals in the shop.
From here, we made our way to the starting point of the day’s trek, the ‘Walk of the Gods’ - a scenic climb following rugged hillside trails above the Mediterranean Sea. On the first, mildly challenging ascent, with the early morning mist still lingering, it really did feel like we were walking up into the clouds.
Admittedly, I am no fitness fanatic and as we continued upwards, concerns about my ability weighed on my mind. I did not want to be the one that held up the group. But I soon found my stride and the group synced into a comfortable pace. That’s not to say I didn’t take full advantage of the frequent short breaks; just enough time to catch your breath, re-group with the others and admire the stunning vistas.
As the morning drew on, the mist lifted and the view opened up revealing sparkling azure sea, golden beaches hugging craggy outcrops and cascading hillside towns – it was heavenly. Climbing higher, the terrain became tougher underfoot but the views even more spectacular. Upon reaching the highest point of the trek, the secluded coves below were an inviting sight to my exhausted, heavily perspiring body!
On the welcome descent we walked through rural splendour; through lush lemon groves where air was still and heavy with scents and the local loggers used mules rather than tractors.
The walk culminated in Positano, a quaint seaside town with shady winding streets crammed with elegant shops. With the afternoon sun intensifying, I treated myself to a refreshing swim and a well-deserved, calorie laden gelato.
When ordering gelato, there is an unwritten rule in Italy that you must chose two, if not more, different flavours to make it a gelato due gusti (two tastes). Should you fail to do this you will be given a strange look of incredulity by whoever serves you!
After each day’s trek, I was always struck by the dramatic change of pace from the peaceful tranquillity of the countryside and cliff-top coastline to the frenetic hubbub of the towns below where sounds of cheerful Italian chatter constantly fill the air.
On average we walked around 10-12 km a day at a steady pace which enabled the group to chat and bond. Inevitably, as we got to know each other better over the first couple of days, it was not too long before we were laughing and joking together as well as indulging in some mutual groaning about our aches and pains! Everyone was very good humoured and any trekking fatigue was soon forgotten when another sumptuous dinner was served at Hotel Due Torri.
The Amalfi Coast is an idyllic, year-round walking destination, but the conditions in May were perfect for a trekking holiday; dry and sunny but without being oppressively hot in the day pleasantly cool in the evening to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Since returning to the UK feeling invigorated and inspired, I have joined a local walking group in search of la doche vita – walking really is the best way to appreciate the countryside, wherever you are!
By Exodus’ Bethany Lees, Customer Operations Executive