Positano on the Amalfi Coast

Walking the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast

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. I then realised that it was the church that we’d walk path on our way to Positano via the Path of the Gods.

Reasons to walk the Path of the Gods other than taking in the scenery

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, you will:

  • Shake off your jet lag. Unfortunately (fortunately?) for my mom, we did the walk on her second day in Italy after flying from Canada.
  • Burn off the calories from the meal the night before. The jury is out on whether it also burns off the meal you’re going to have to reward yourself for finishing the hike. And of course all the congratulatory meals for the next few days.
  • Remind you of all the tiny muscles in your calves you didn’t know you had until you feel them the next day.

Who knew there were so many uses for a four 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. We woke up on the first morning to beautiful clear skies that were misty up on the mountain. Eager to do the walk, we decided to get going and hope the sun would come out and burn off the mist.

Preparation for the walk

One must carb load before heading out since you don’t know when you’ll find food again! I went for a huge coffee and and not one, but two pieces of Italian cake. With a small backpack each, our phones, some water and trail mix, we set off!

Starting the walk from Praiano

The walkway for 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.

start of the Path of the Gods Trail
It all starts innocently enough at the beginning, and then come all the stairs!
Praiano stairs
Stairs, stairs and more stairs. The good news is that they’re well maintained. The bad news is there are a lot of them.

This part of the trail is steep, though relatively easy. The path begins as 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!

Arrival at the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria a Castro.

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 for water bottle re-filling. The caretaker also sells a variety of soft drinks.

Path of the Gods Church
We spent about 15 minutes around the church catching our breath, I mean taking in the beautiful views.
Path of the Gods Dog
The dog physically couldn’t get any farther away from my mom!

Reaching the main trail

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. There also a small sign pointing the way to Nocelle.

Path of the Gods Church
Looking back at the church and the dog

While not crowded (we did the walk at the end of April), we found that we were walking faster than most other walkers. This meant we 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 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 than water and decent shoes if you’re of average fitness. Needless to say, we looked less prepared than the serious hikers with those pants that have zips at the knee you can turn ‘into shorts. Yes we saw lots of those on the trail!

Look out for the sheep!

Over the next couple of hours we’d stop for a snack and some water, a herd of sheep (twice!) or to wait for slower walkers to get ahead. The path itself isn’t what I’d call a well manicured path. But it’s unevenness, the jagged rocks, and the small boulders to clamber over all added to the fun. People with mobility issues would be advised to either avoid the walk or to really take you time. Here are some photos to give you a sense of what the path is like.

Path of the Gods
The beautiful stairs turned into these after the church
Path of the Gods Railing
One of the few places with a railing and judging by the look of it, I don’t think it would keep you from falling down!
path of the gods trail
No railings, no problems!
path of the gods trail
What path?

Vertigo you say?

I’d read reviews about how people who suffer from veritgo might have some issues with the sheer drop offs. This didn’t end up being a concern for us. Being up above the foggy clouds, it was impossible to tell how far up we were or how far we’d fall if we slipped. While the views on a clear day would have been unreal, the fog gave the scenery a totally different, slightly creepy vibe.

Path of the Gods Trail
It’s only a kilometre or so down over the edge. No biggie!
Path of the Gods Abandoned building
Abandoned building where we saw more sheep

We made it. Well to Nocelle anyway!

Eventually we arrived at the end of the trail and came to a strategically placed cafe. With beautiful views from its outside patio, we stopped for a cappuccino and a thirst quenching orange juice (5 euros for the two).

All done! Well except the never-ending staircase to Positano!

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. A small shop in the piazza sold orange juice and a few other drinks. After a brief stop for views, we found more stairs to walk down.

Nacelle church
Cute church in Nocelle. The courtyard comes with stone rock seating and a small stand selling cool drinks.

A very old man with hardly any teeth told us in Italiano that it was 1,800 steps to Positano. I think he enjoys saying it while laughing at the scared faces of tourists!

Down, down and down some more stairs

While it didn’t seem like that many steps, 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). I’m not going to lie, I actually gasped in delight.

Path of the Gods, Positano
Looking down at Positano that after many hours of walking, still looked really far away!

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 I guess they 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 traffic and giant tour buses. After the hike through the wilderness, this felt like walking down broadway in NYC!

Arrival in Positano

When arriving in Positano on foot from this direction, you are welcomed by the amazing views walking down the hill to the town.

For views like this, it was well worth the hike

Lunch at Ristorante La Pergola

Once we reached the actual town, I didn’t know where to go. When in doubt, head downhill and find the beach. Quite hungry by this time, we picked a restaurant 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 great 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.

La Pergola Ristorante Prosecco
We were very lucky to snag a table with a boardwalk and ocean view
La Pergola Ristorante
Someone’s happy!
La Pergola Ristorante
La Pergola Ristorante
My very tasty gnocchi covered in pecorino cheese.

Time to explore Positano

After lunch it was time for a stroll along the beach and then a wander through the town. By this time the temperature was in the mid 20s so made for some beautiful strolling weather. After buying ferry tickets to Capri for Thursday morning, we had a short break on the beach, taking in some sun and not wanting to get back up.

Now how do we get back to Praiano?

Eventually it was time though, so we made our way up to Piazza dei Mulini to first buy some bus tickets (at the Tabacchi). I picked the bus that travels solely between Positano and Praiano hoping it wouldn’t be too full. Otherwise there are buses travelling from Sorrento to Amalfi, stopping in Positano and Praiano.

Come to find out, we were at 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 and told her I thought so but I was standing behind her because she looked like she knew what she was doing.

She was from Zimbabwe and she told her husband that she would only 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?!

About 15 minutes later, we were back in Praiano ready to take off our shoes and never put them back on again!

Time for pizza in Praiano

For dinner that evening, we stayed in Praiano to try a local pizza place called Che Bonta. The restaurant has outdoor tables set up a wide staircase. 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 time for bed or at least time to no longer stand on my sore feet.

To read about our third and final day on the Amalfi Coast, click here.

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