High above the famously twisty Amalfi coast road, along which coaches whizz tourists on day trips to and from picturesque Amalfi and Sorrento, lies a simpler, more remote Italy. The seven-kilometre long Pathway of the Gods runs down from the heights of Agerola (Bomerano) to the beach at Positano. Of medium difficulty (at least downhill), the local legend tells how the Gods descended the rocky path to reach the sea where Sirens lay in wait for unsuspecting mariners, enticing entranced sailors onto the rocks with the beauty of their singing. When Odysseus foiled them by lashing himself to the mast of his ship, the Sirens threw themselves into the sea, becoming the Le Sirenuse isles.
The views from the Pathway along the coast are simply staggering. On the path itself, wild herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme scent the air, above hawks wheel. Band music wafted up from a festival in the town of Priano below. The path hugs the hillside, at times exposed to the sun, at others diving into wooded gulleys.
DH Lawrence, who lived for a while in in nearby Ravello described the scene thus:
‘the great loop of the Amalfi coastline that looks towards the West, towards the Island of Capri, that precipitous coast, steamy hot, with the crystalline mountains where the gods of today are foresaken and you find a lost self again, Mediterranean, before you’.
On the day we walked, there was a steady, but not overwhelming, stream of multinational walkers, taking this brief opportunity to get away from the tourist bustle and hubbub below, their gaze wandering ‘over the wide expanse of sea, over that territory of imaginary mythology’. Local men tended their grape vines, back packers struggled up hill, the more canny strolled downwards, towards Positano, where a cool beer and deserved gelato awaited.