Hiking on the Amalfi Coast: How to hike from Ravello to Amalfi
Arriving on the Amalfi Coast is a journey of anticipation. As the bus pulls out of Salerno station, you get your first real glimpse of the sea; sun flickering through palm trees along the broad waterfront. The coach’s engine gives a grunt of expectation as it gains the first metres on the coast’s promontory and slowly, towns appear and recede: Vietri sul Mare, Cetara, Maiori, Minori. Just before the home stretch to Amalfi, I jump down to wait for my connection to Ravello, on a steep bend above the beaches of Castiglione.
It’s baking hot down here, but the second bus takes you into a cloud on the top of a mountain; through dark tunnels; and out onto a straight road with impossible, misty views over the sea. Ravello. You feel like you’ve earned your lunch by the time you get this far; but there’s an even better way to merit that view. The answer, of course, is by walking there.
I’m not suggesting you walk all the way from Rome; not even from Salerno or Naples, but if you base yourself in Ravello or Praiano, you can enjoy exploring the Amalfi Coast on foot and engage with its green hills in a much more immediate way. Ravello isn’t the highest spot on the coast; that honour goes to Agerola, a village not far away on a different spar of rock. But it is one of the loftiest towns on the peninsula, and in my opinion, the prettiest. Start from Ravello, or Scala, the town just below, and you can walk to Amalfi, Minori or Maiori, all reachable in under an hour, although you will probably want to allow 90 minutes to get as far as Maiori. The routes all involve steep stone steps, stretches of paved and unpaved pathway, and don’t require any special equipment (trainers or walking shoes are advised).
How to walk from Scala to Amalfi
The first walk, from Scala, requires you to take a bus there from Ravello or walk down part of the asphalted road under Ravello’s new Auditorium before finding the steps to Scala. After Scala, follow signs for the village of Minuta. You’re now in a small piazza with a chapel and fountain and you should take the stone steps that face the coast down towards the ruins of St. Eustachio, a remarkable broken church now open to the sky. Beyond there, the path leads to Pontone, a charming village with a couple of churches and a steep flight of steps into the gorge above Amalfi; you’re now ten minutes from the beach.
To come back up, follow the coast road from Amalfi towards the beach of Castiglione, and retrace the first bends taken by the bus that reaches Ravello. Then the stone steps start and you can leave the road. Not all stretches of the pathway are signposted; follow your instinct, and it’s hard to go wrong. It’s a steep ascent and not for the faint-hearted, but eventually brings you out under the gaze of Villa Rondinaia; up some more, and you emerge near Villa Cimbrone in Ravello itself.
How to walk from Ravello to Minori
An alternative descent, towards Minori, starts from the steps just before the Auditorium and winds down to another lovely and unspoilt spot on the sea through the town of Torello. After Torello, you can turn left, down moss-covered, crumbling steps – a little hazardous – that take you straight into the heart of the town, or continue forward, past the town cemetery, a prettier route. If you want to go even further, once you’ve seen Minori, head along the coastal road towards Maiori. By that stage, you will undoubtedly want to fling yourself in the sea or just stop for lunch. This time, you will really have earned it. Another hike – that I didn’t try on this occasion – is the famous Walk of the Gods from Agerola towards Arieno or Positano. Famed for its stunning views, I’m just happy to say – there’s always a next time.