No matter how much the coastline and nearby piazzas of Amalfi may be bustling with tourists, within a few minutes of this hike you will escape the crowds and be greeting locals with your heartiest ‘Buongiorno!’. This is a glimpse into how life in Amalfi has existed for generations; an old man balances precariously atop a wooden lattice, 3 metres high, tending to his lemon trees, which droop under the weight of the grapefruit-sized, yellow treasure for which the region is famed. Derelict stone buildings – old paper mills – crumble beside a swift stream as nature steadily reclaims her territory. All this set within an amphitheatre of magnificent limestone cliff-faces.
The quiet, forgotten village of Pontone greets you halfway through the hike, its sleepy Piazza San Giovanni a peaceful spot to break for a drink or lunch. From Pontone, the colourful houses of Amalfi, far below, appear like a ribbon threaded through the valley, nestled between two mountains, and with an unbeatable backdrop of the Mediterranean, a rich sapphire-blue.
Ravello is a popular village, where tourists enjoy browsing through the vibrant ceramics shops and art galleries, stepping into history in the old monasteries and churches, or watching the world-go-by with a gelato ice cream, or a slice of pizza in the Piazza Duomo, the square around which the village is centred. From here, you can return to Amalfi by bus or continue on foot.
Sit in Piazza Duomo and feel the pace of life slowing down around you. Is it too early for a beer?
There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and keep walking on the path.
There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic, unless there is a verge separated by line-markings that provides space to walk on.
Much of the path is on rocky-steps, which can be irregularly spaced. Bear in mind these may be slippery when wet, place your feet with care, and use the handrail where one is provided.
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Points of Interest
Ravello Cathedral, looking out over the Piazza Duomo, has several notable attractions; the bronze door dating to 1179, and the ornate, mosaic-decorated pulpit, suspended on 6 spiral columns, each atop a marble-carved lion, which was commissioned by Nicola Rufolo, a famous 13th century merchant. There is also a small museum with several significant pieces of artwork.
More information available here: https://www.ravello.com/attractions/duomo/
Amalfi Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Andrew; steps from the basilica lead to his crypt, with his remains reportedly captured during the crusades in 1206 and brought to Amalfi from Constantinople (now Istanbul). Inside you can visit the Heaven’s Cloister; an Arabic-inspired garden and architecture, built around 1266, and intended to be a cemetery for noble families.
More information available here: https://www.livesalerno.com/amalfi-cathedral
The Paper Museum (Museo Della Carta)
The Amalfi Paper Museum is itself housed in an old papermill, dating to the 13th century. The Amalfi Region was long one of the leading paper-makers in the world, peaking in the 18th century with 11 mills. You will pass some of these mills, now long-derelict, crumbling and reclaimed by nature on your walk today. The museum allows you to view the old paper-making machinery, and explains the role of Amalfi in this.
More information available here: https://www.museodellacarta.it/
The Rufolo family was the family of Ravello, both economically and politically powerful during the 12th and 13th century. This villa was built, befitting their status, blending Arabic and Byzantine architecture with traditional Italian elements. The real draw of the villa is its gardens, set against a grand backdrop of the coastline and Mediterranean Sea.
More information available here: https://villarufolo.com/
Reference to Villa Cimbrone can be found as early as the 11th Century, a golden age of Ravello. The Villa is a private, 5-star hotel, but you are welcome to enter the gardens. Gore Vidal, an American Author, was once asked of the most beautiful place he had seen in his travels, “and I said the view from the belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone on a bright winter’s day when the sky and the sea were each so vividly blue that it was not possible to tell one from the other.”
More information available here: https://www.ravello.com/attractions/villa-cimbrone/
Food and Drink
There are opportunities throughout this walk to buy food or drink.
There are remote cafes after 1.7 and 3.5 kilometres.
Pontone has a small collection of cafes and restaurants around its Piazza San Giovanni.
Ravello has a variety of restaurants and cafes to suit your desires, and the Piazza Duomo is a lovely place to sit and relax after the climb.
After 4.3 kilometres there is a water-tap where you can refill your bottles.
Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking.