Amalfi Coast

Italy: Day 12 by Josh Trudell

Coast-Towns-2 I had a mission on our trip to Italy.

For years I had been seeing beautiful images of the Amalfi coast lit up by the evening sun, and I was determined to get one of my own.

After our hike across the Pathway of the Gods, we were ready for a relatively quiet day, so we took the bus from our hotel (after another fabulous Luigi breakfast) to Ravello.

Ravello, nestled between the coast town of Amalfi and the mountains, has a road to it that makes the narrow and winding coast road look like the Autobahn. It winds up the side of the cliffs on hairpin turns, past gardens cut into the hillside, before reaching a brief flat shelf in the rock.

Walking from one side of town to the other meant crossing the shelf, from views of the Med on one side to views of the rising hills on the other.

The shops there are filled with red coral jewelry, made from the offshore coral beds. The necklaces, earrings and brooches were beautiful, but pricy. Wandering through town, we found the Villa Rufulo – a huge building/park with beautiful flower gardens overlooking the Mediterranean.

Hustling back down the hillside, we made it to the waterfront just as the sun began to edge downward, lighting up the hillside buildings. It’s a little touristy around the waterfront, but the views made it worthwhile.

Coast-Towns-1I ran out onto a pier stretching into the water, where I took a couple of panoramas – plus these gents – but wasn’t really capturing the look I wanted.

Back on the beach, however, the water, light and waves came together for one of my favorite photos from the trip.

It was a great capper as our last full day in Italy – the next day, we caught an early car and train for Rome in the pouring rain (the only day it rained), and began our journey home.

Italy, Day 11 by Josh Trudell

Pathway-3 Where do they go?

They go up…and up…and up.

Rousing ourselves, we fueled up with another wonderful breakfast from Luigi’s kitchen and made our way to the center of Praiano, where we began climbing the steps up to the Sentiero Degli Dei – the Pathway of the Gods.

The trail runs from Bomerano to Positano – starting from Praiano, we were roughly in the middle. If we had taken the bus to Bomerano to start, we would have had an easier starting point and walked longer, but we opted for the many, many stairs – at least 1,900, by some accounts - up to the trail from the Praiano city center.

If every Stairmaster has these views, they would be a lot more popular. Looking up and down the coast, we could see for miles – clouds swarming over a mountain to the north, waves crashing on the coastline, sunlit seaside villages to the south.

Pathway-2If you have an issue with heights or vertigo, this hike could be a challenge. The trail isn’t much more than a goat path – with actual goats – in spots. The four-legged friends (with an occasional shepherd) hung around the trail, munching on grass as we passed by.

Able to look straight down in spots, we could see cars winding along the twisty coastal road far below. There are occasionally wooden rails in place, but more often not.

The trail winds past a couple of monasteries in mixed repair – one seemed to be open, while another was shuttered. Most signs of man were smaller, though, especially looking up the hills – the ruins of a stone house on a high meadow, or a trailside shrine built into a small cave.

As we walked, the wind and rain caught up to us briefly, but luckily not long enough to be soaking or dangerous.

By the time we reached Positano, our feet were sore from the rocky hike. The 1,600 steps from the trail down to the road, while wider and easier than the hike up, were still challenging. We were happy to call Luigi (which he told us to do before we left) and he came to pick us up.

Sore feet or not, if someone asks you to hike the Pathway of the Gods…you say yes.

How my feet survived our European vacation, and other thoughts by Josh Trudell

Four quick takeaways from a fantastic trip to Italy:NO BLISTERS: I can’t explain how much of an improvement it was on the vacation experience to not have any blisters on my feet. When we went to London and Paris four years ago, my feet were red and raw by the end of the second day.

Two weeks of pounding our feet on the cobblestones and slate of Venice, Rome and the little towns on the Amalfi Coast, and nothing this time.

I wore sock liners every day (except flying days) and heavy Thorlo hiking socks over fairly new (less than a month old) Teva low-cut hiking boots. Thorlos are expensive, but worth their weight in gold. Highly recommended.

CROSSING THE STREET: Our vacation experience went up 10 points by crossing Via Veneto in Rome – but it completely leveled up in Naples.

We didn’t see any streetlights in a six-block walk around the train station in Naples. The resulting chaos was beyond epic. Taking our lives in our hands, we walked out and waited for them to stop – amazingly, they did.

Luckily, the pizza we had at Da Pellone More than made up for it. If you're going to eat pizza, eat it where they invented pizza.

PHOTOGRAPHING THE ICONS: Some of my favorite shots are iconic buildings at night. With stops in Rome and Venice, there were more than a few opportunities for me to try cool night shots.

However, the hustlers shilling their colored light gizmos tend to wander in front of the camera during the long exposures, which can result in some interesting effects, but more often result in annoying crap and lots of time in Photoshop, if not a junked image.

However, they will usually – not always – get out of the way once they see what you are doing.

THE BEST VIEWS: This was a tough call. We had a great view from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, but it was very crowded. Castel Sant’Angelo was less crowded, had a great view and we got a better sunset. Win.