Walking the Path of the Gods from Praiano
While standing on the terrace at our Praiano B&B looking way over at Positano in the distance, something caught my eye. There was a small building clinging to the side of the cliff way overhead. It took me a minute to realise that it was the church that we’d be walking to on the way over to Positano via the Path of the Gods!
What we’d soon find out is that the Path of the Gods walk has several uses, besides being the most physical way to travel between Praiano and Positano.
- Shaking off your jet lag. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately for my mom, we did the walk on her second day in Italy after flying over from Canada.
- Burning off the calories from the meal the night before, the meal you’re going to have to reward yourself for finishing the hike and the meals for the next few days while you continue to congratulate yourself from completing the walk.
- Reminding yourself of all the tiny muscles in your calves that are very much awoken the day after finishing the hike.
Who knew how many uses there were for 4 hour hike up and down the side of a small mountain!
With three nights in Praiano, we had two days to pick from to do the walk. The first morning we woke up and the beautiful clear skies from the previous day were still clear but misty up the mountain. Eager to do the walk, we decided to get going and and hope that the sun would come out and burn off the mist.
So after a big breakfast (one must carb load when heading out; who knows when we’d next find food again?!), including a huge coffee and and not one, but two pieces of Italian cake, we were off.
The path for the start of the Path of the Gods trail between Praiano and Positano starts a few metres past Casa Columba B&B on via Croce. When looking on Google Maps, via Croce looks like a path and then it turns away from the ocean to become a road. The path is at the end of that walkway.
The trail starts innocently enough and as far as you can see it looks flat. That lasts for about a minute and then its non-stop stairs for about 30 minutes. Sigh.
This part of the trail is steep, though relatively easy since the path is a series of well-trotted stone staircases that lead to a quaint church. Why churches always seem to be built in the most difficult to reach places, I don’t know!
Once we arrived, we were greeted by a youngish man who cares for the church and the property. It seems to be just him and his pet dog. He told us that the dog had previously been a working dog and wasn’t treated the best so he’s rather shy. He liked me but couldn’t get further away from my mom!
Besides being a convenient stop to catch your breath and take in the beautiful views, there’s a tap with fresh water to fill up water bottles and the caretaker also sells a variety of soft drinks.
After another 20 minutes of more vertical walking, we joined the main trail from Bomerano to Nocelle. You know you’ve reached the main trail when you’re no longer walking uphill and there’s a small sign pointing the way to Nocelle.
While not what I would call crowded (we did the walk at the end of April), we found that we were walking a bit faster than most so got stuck behind larger groups walking a lot slower than us. I also noticed the number of people walking in actual hiking boots and with hiking poles! Meanwhile we were in sketchers and casual sport shoes and I was happy I’d remembered to bring a bottle of water and some trail mix. I don’t think you really need anything more to do the walk if you’re of average fitness. Needless to say, we’re not serious hikers with those pants that have zips at the knee you can turn ‘fashionably’ turn into shorts.
Over the next couple of hours we’d stop ever so often for a snack and some water, a herd of sheep (twice!) and to wait for slower walkers to get ahead. The path itself was great in that it wasn’t what you’d call a well manicured path. It’s unevenness, the jagged rocks, the areas where it didn’t look like a path and the small boulders to clamber over all added to the fun. People with mobility issues would be advised either not to go or to really take you time. Here are some photos to give you a sense of what the path is like.
I’d read reviews about the trail and how people who suffer from veritgo might have some issues with the sheer drop offs, but that didn’t end up being a concern for us. Being up above the foggy clouds, it was impossible to tell how far down the cliff we might fall if we were to have a slip. While the views on a cloud and fog less day would have been unreal, the fog gave the scenery a totally different, slightly creepy vibe.
Eventually we arrived at the end and came to a strategically placed cafe with beautiful views from its outside patio. We enjoyed a cappuccino and a very thirst quenching orange juice (5 euros for the two).
After the cafe we were in what I would guess was Nocelle. We only saw some houses and a staircase heading down. No where did we see a sign for the bus that could take us down to Positano. Instead of spending energy looking for it, we walked down until we came across the cutest little church where you can also buy orange juice and a few other drinks. After a brief stop for views, we found more stairs to walk down.
A very old man with hardly any teeth told us in Italiano that it was 1800 steps to Positano. I think he enjoys saying it while laughing at the scared faces of tourists!
While it didn’t seem like that many at the time, about half way down my legs were starting to shake pretty badly. Eventually though we turned a corner and saw Positano (now below the clouds, we could see some views) and I actually gasped out loud in delight.
Wow what a view. That made the rest of the stairs more bearable and then we eventually hit the main road. I was a bit confused because I thought the stairs were to Positano, which they kind of were, if you don’t count the additional 15 minute walk on the main road to the town. Yes the same main road as all the area’s traffic and giant tour buses. After the hike through the wilderness, this felt like walking down broadway in NYC!
When arriving in Positano on foot from this direction, you are welcomed by the amazing views walking down the hill to the town.
Once we reached the actual town, and not really knowing where to go, it seemed logical to head downhill to check out the beach. Quite hungry by this time, we picked a restaurant on the beach with sea views called Ristorante La Pergola. Lunch was a well earned pasta; Deane had the ravioli and I had the zucchini gnocchi. Both were great and went down a treat with a glass of Prosecco.
I worry about eating at restaurants that are obviously geared towards tourists. Usually there’s a direct correlation between views and bad food but we both enjoyed out meals. It might have had something to do with the massive hike and I would have probably eaten anything at that point! The people watching along the promenade wasn’t too bad either.
After lunch it was time for a stroll along the beach (by this time the weather was in the mid 20s) and then a wander through the town. After buying ferry tickets to Capri for Thursday morning, we had a short lounge on the beach, taking in some sun and not wanting to get back up.
Eventually it was time though, so we made our way up to Piazza dei Mulini to first buy some bus tickets (at the Tabacchi) and then hope the bus would come. I picked the bus that goes between Positano and Praiano hoping it wouldn’t be too full. Come to find out, we were the first stop, so there was no issue getting a seat. A very well dressed lady in front of me, who I assumed was a local, turned to me and asked if it was the bus to Praiano. I laughed saying that I thought so but I was standing behind her because she looked like she knew what she was doing. Come to find out she’s from Zimbabwe and I’m guessing her and her husband have a lot of money seeing as she was only going to join him in Italy on his work trip if she rented a villa on the Amalfi Coast while he attended his work meetings in Milano. How amazing would that be?! I digress. She was absolutely lovely and we had a nice chat on the way back to Praiano. About 15 minutes later, we were back home in Praiano ready to take our shoes off and never put them back on ever again!
For dinner that evening, we stayed in Praiano (avoid any amount of real walking) to try a local pizza place called Che Bonta. The restaurant has outdoor tables set up a wide staircase, so quite a novel touch. One ginormous pizza was enough to feed the two of us, washed down with an ice cold beer. By this time it was about 8pm and it was pretty much close to bed time / no longer standing on my sore feet time.