The trip starts in the coastal town of Salerno. Originally Greek, Salerno became an important Roman town and flourished again in the 10th to 13th centuries. After one night in Salerno we transfer to the charming village of Minori, where we stay two nights at a lovely four-star hotel. On Monday we make a full-day excursion to Pompeii for a guided tour of this incredible Roman site preserved in time by the ashes of Mount Vesuvius. On Tuesday we find ourselves high in the hills in the village of Ravello, famous for its gardens and villas. We explore the area by foot for two days and then make our way to our final destination, Praiano-Positano. The walks, though not long in terms of distance, can be strenuous at times as we ascend or descend mountain paths or a series of old stairways that have been used for years to link the villages of the region. We have designed the trip so that there is always some free time in the late afternoon so you can relax, read, swim in the hotel pool or venture down to Amalfi's beaches for a dip in the sea. Breakfast is included every day, and dinners reflect the excellent traditional food of the region.
Day 1: Saturday - arrival Salerno
The trip starts in Salerno, which is easily accessible by train. Our hotel is conveniently located close to the station on a lively yet quiet pedestrian street. We are just a five-minute walk from the historic center of old Salerno with its great cafés, restaurants, and shops. Hotel included.
Day 2: Sunday - Convento di San Nicola
Meet your guide/guides this morning at 9:00 a.m. in the hotel. After breakfast we have a short bus transfer to the village of Maiori where we begin our first hike, up into the mountains overlooking the shimmering Mediterranean. Our path is lined with holm oaks and chestnut groves, opening out onto a long ridge that traverses the mountainside, offering breathtaking views of the coastal villages and bright blue sea below. We stop at the Convent of San Nicola for a picnic lunch and then slowly descend down into Minori, our home for the next two nights. We stay at a four-star hotel with a rooftop pool and solarium. While in Minori, we visit a remarkable Roman villa (from the 1st century BC) with well-preserved mosaics, nestled into the heart of this maritime village. We meet before dinner at a seaside café for an aperitivo, a chance for your guides to tell you a bit more about your trip. Dinner and hotel included.
Day 3: Monday - Pompei-Minori
Today we take a morning transfer to Pompei for a guided tour of this outstanding archaeological site. In 79 AD, a massive eruption at nearby Mt. Vesuvius buried the city under a 6-meter blanket of ash and rock. Due to its fine state of preservation, the excavations now give us an extraordinarily real image of daily life in a Roman city. Pompei was rediscovered in the 16th century, but excavation only began in 1748 and has continued systematically up to the present time. We spend a half day visiting the site with a specialized guide, seeing the villas, temples, theatres and markets that once bustled with life in ancient times. Optional afternoon walk. Dinner tonight is in a local trattoria in Minori. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel included.
Day 4: Tuesday
Valley of the Mills to Ravello: A short bus transfer takes us along the spectacular coastal road to the famous village of Amalfi. This charming coastal town was once an important naval power in the 12th and 13th centuries. Every street hides a charming square, and we take time to visit the Piazza dei Dogi, still known by its former name "Piazza dei Ferrari" due to the blacksmith shops that used to line the square. Another street takes us to the Vagliendola quarter, renowned for its tower houses. You will have some free time this morning to explore Amalfi and put together a picnic lunch before we head out on today's hike. We exit Amalfi via the Valley of the Mills, arriving at an ancient mountain path that is still used by woodsmen and their donkeys to access the remote valleys and woods of this ruggedly beautiful area. On the way we visit the last operating paper mill in Amalfi. From the 10th century until just a century ago, Amalfi was renowned for the production of fine paper made from cotton. It was used throughout Europe by kings, nobles and popes. Today, our path leads us past the eerily fascinating ruins of these mills as we make our way up the valley and into the mountains. Our walk ends in the delightful village of Ravello, our home for the next two nights. Take some time to visit the lovely villas, convents and church towers of this delightful town. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Day 5: Wednesday - Pontone, Valle del Dragone, Torre dello Ziro, Amalfi
We leave on foot this morning and take the path down to the village of Pontone, a defensive stronghold for the area during the 12-13th centuries. We wind our way through trellised lemon groves to emerge into the village piazza where we have time to enjoy a mid-morning cappuccino at the local café. We exit the village past a pretty chapel, and begin our ascent onto the spur that contains the Torre dello Ziro, an imposing tower that was part of the defensive system of walls and towers that protected Amalfi from marauding Saracen pirates. To get to the tower we walk along a rocky spine, past shady pine trees and through fields of wildflowers to enjoy stunning views across the Valle del Dragone to the gardens and villas of Ravello. From here we also have dramatic views down onto the rooftops of Amalfi, Atrani, and the stunning coastline. We retrace our steps and then head down to the coastal village of Atrani, with its rabbit warren of alleys and a beautiful church. Optional lemon-themed lunch in Amalfi. In the afternoon, we have an optional walk up to Ravello or you can take the bus. Your guides will give you a brief orientation of Ravello, then you have free time to explore the gardens and villas of what many consider to be the most beautiful village in Italy. Tonight is a free night for dinner, so you can go light or else try one of Ravello's fine restaurants. Breakfast and hotel included. Dinner not included.
Day 6: Thursday - Ravello to Pogerola, Valle delle Ferriere
Today we start our walk directly from the nearby village of Scala. The hike starts with great views of the villages and nearby sea as we make our way to the beautiful Valle delle Ferriere, one of the most important protected areas of the region. The trail passes through streams, woods, and old ruins and ends in the village of Pogerola. From there you can take a bus to Amalfi or keep walking to the village of San Lazzaro. We walk to a village called Campidoglio, then through the Valle delle Ferriere that will take us to Pogerola. You can also take another trail that joins the Pogerola-San Lazzaro hike close to the spring. We finish our day in the town of Praiano, near Positano. This will be our home for the last two nights of the trip. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel included.
Day 7: Friday - Footpath of the Gods
Today we head to beautiful Positano via the village of Bomerano, from where we will start our walk along the fabulous Sentiero degli Dei (footpath of the Gods) to Positano. This four-hour hike takes us through groves of cypress and fields of wildflowers, past ancient stone huts, and across precipitous hillsides and narrow ledges overlooking the sea. We reach the Vallone di Grarelle, with its many caves and deep coves, and continue to Nocelle, a picturesque neighboring village of Positano. A walk through the village brings us to the old footpath that leads to Montepertuso, before crossing the Vallone Porto, a deep gorge with striking limestone walls. From here we take the old steps down through olive groves and vineyards to the center and the beach of Positano. It is the setting of Positano that sets it apart as the most beautiful - and now the most fashionable - town on the Amalfi coast. Positano is perched on a steep slope on a small and protective bay, its brightly painted houses covered in bougainvillea. The town used to be an out-of-the-way fishing village whose residents also grew lemons and olives on narrow, terraced fields. Its cube-shaped white houses with flat-domed roofs and small front porch recall the Arabic influence due to the continued presence of the Saracens. This is also why there are there are numerous lookout towers along the area's rugged coastline. Our hotel is perched on the cliffs, offering lovely views of Positano and out to sea. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel included.
Day 8: Saturday - Departure. We leave at 9:00 a.m. for the Naples train station, arriving around 10:30. Breakfast only.
Price: Euro 1,950 (£1,400) per person based on double occupancy. Single Supplement Euro 200 (£145).
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