VILLA LA MADONNINA: OUR FAVORITE HIKES
The whole Amalfi coast is hikers paradise
The entire peninsula of Sorrent is crisscrossed with ancient walking paths leading over the rocky landscape from one hamlet to the next. With hiking you experience breath-taking views down to the always-present sea as far as Capri, interestingly shaped rocks, mountains and traces of hundreds of years of cultivation and a climate, which is favorable for hiking the whole year. You walk on paths already in use for many centuries, often carefully built with stone steps and well maintained. In the time before cars these were the lifelines – beside the transport by boat – between the villages especially up in the mountains. They were the base for communications and the transportation of goods, which was mainly the role of women. Today they serve for pleasure only. I mean of course only the paths.
I describe here those hikes, which you can start from the villa or other ones, which we like most.
Many other excellent hikes are described the guidebook available in English from Julian Tippet. If you are a passionate hiker you may want to buy the booklet before you leave for the Amalfi coast. See there also the recommendations regarding equipment.
If you want to see good photos from different hikes with maps…. see the excellent web site from Giovanni Visetti. He is a walking tour adviser and also organizes hiking tours. Groups of young people that are nature lovers organize ecological walks for interested tourists to rediscover the origins of the earth and the sea. Tel.: 081 8089613 or 339 6942911 for a local hiking guide ask the tourist agency in Praiano.
La Madonnina – Marina di Praia – Praiano – La Madonnina
This is a nice walk to discover the surroundings of the villa. You see the beautiful valley and port of Praiano Marina di Praiano, you pass the tower, which you see from the Villa and get a first impression about the nice town of Praiano. It takes about 1,30 hours but you can shorten it by returning after you have reached the tower. The photo on the left shows Marina di Praia seen from the sea.
Description: At the exit of the villa you turn left and walk along the Amalfitana. Looking back you have a breath-taking view to the coast. You pass the tunnel and then decent down to Marina di Praia, the port of Praiano. You can walk around the cliff below the tower, but the path has here a dead end in front of the Africana a discotheque built into a natural cave – open only in summer. To continue, go back to the restaurant La Pirata. There you use the path, which leads up to the tower, which is today used as a studio by the artist Paolo Sandulli. It’s worthwhile to visit him. From the bottom of the tower you have a nice view on the coast to the east and west.
Now you can return home the same way and finish your short exploration. To go there and return will take about one hour. To continue the tour to the centre of Praiano, I recommend taking with you the plan of Praiano, which you find in the villa. It’s easier to follow the plan than to follow my description. The walk gets a bid harder now as it heads up the hill to the center of Praiano (about 180 m, 550 ft. above sea level. Most of the time you use now century old stone stairs, which connect the different levels of the village. You reach the center at the church of San Genaro. From there you have a nice view down to the coast. Now I recommend not returning the same way you came but go to the east there is a path, which leads you down to the Amalfitana.
La Madonnina – Praiano- Convento di San Domenico – La Madonnina
You walk through the old alleys of Praiano and then continue the nice walk to the monastery, which was built around 1599 a/c. You can visit an interesting old church (if its open). From the monastery you have the most wonderful view as far as Capri and on the way back you have a similar excellent view to the East – to Conca di Marini.
It takes about 1,5 hours to go there. (30 min when you drive the car as far as possible). The highest point is 364 m (about 1039 ft.) above sea level.
Description: To go there you can save energy by taking the car to Praiano, there at a fountain on the right side a road leads up the mountain. Soon you see the indication San Domenico, follow it till you reach the end of the street and hopefully find a place for parking your car. Even if you don’t like to walk its worthwhile to go there and enjoy the view down to the sea. From there you can see the monastery up in the mountain and you need 30 minutes to reach it.
When you prefer to walk turn left at the gate of the villa, follow the Amalfitana, go through the tunnel, then before passing the bridge, there is a path, which leads up the valley. At a crossing you take path in the direction to Praiano. When you reach the village center with the church continue to go in western direction then you reach a street, follow it. At the next crossing you see an indication to San Domenico, follow it till the end of the road, where you can already see the monastery and the path leading there. The path is well maintained.
La Madonnina – Fiordo di Furore – Sant Elia – Marina di Praia- La Madonnina
Explore the area above the villa with a nice walk with beautiful views down to the sea and up to the mountains. This takes about 2-3 hours. The highest point is about 250 m (about 750 feet) above sea level. Combine it with a lunch in either Marina di Praia or Marina di Furore.
What we do most of the time is to start at about 11 am from the villa. Then we reach Marina di Praia at lunchtime and take there our well-deserved lunch. I recommend the path only for experienced hikers. I don’t think its dangerous but the path is narrow and at one or two passages you may need the support of your hands. If you want to avoid this you may return after having reached Sant Elia.
Description: At the gate you turn right and walk along the street till you reach Fiordo di Furore. You take the path which starts at the western side of the bridge and which leads you up to the church of Sant Elia.Continue your walk level towards the West. You see the indication Sentiero del Agave in Fiori (path of the Agave in flowers). The 2 hours to Marina di Praia indicated there are largely exaggerated. Soon you will see the plate with a nice poem. I liked it very much therefore I want to give you an idea what it says by translating the beginning of the poem. (Sorry for my lousy English but I hope you get the sense what the poem wants to tell us.
“Here where time seems to have become to a standstill. To give the mortals the gift of being immortal, here where rumors are felt like imperfection of silence ……..”
From there the path follows the terraces, which were used to be cultivated. You walk towards the valley, cross it and on the other side of the valley you pass a lonely farmhouse without access to the street. Below the farmhouse you take the path down to Marina di Praia. It’s well indicated with a sign. If you would continue the path you would reach Praiano.
La Madonnina – Praiano – Colle la Serra – Nocelle (in the upper part it is the famous “Sentiero degli Dei”)
This hike is definitely the most spectacular hike of the whole peninsula of Sorrent and one of the most beautiful in the world. From Colle la Serra to Nocelle it follows the famous “Sentiero degli Dei” – the walk of Gods. Not exaggerated, it’s really spectacular: wonderful views down to the always-present sea including the isle of Capri on the horizon. From Praiano you also have a view in the other direction to the eastern part of the peninsula. You pass fantastic rock formations, old traces of farming.
You walk on your own or join a guided tour – in this case ask the travel office for information.
Description: The “normal” way to walk the Sentiero degli Dei is starting from Agerola/Bomerano then you go to Colle la Serra, then to Nocelle or further to Montepertuso and Positano. To go to Bomerano you take a bus (buy tickets before in a bar). You go to the bus stop in Marina di Praia. You turn left when you leave the exit of the villa, walk about 400 m (1200 ft.) directly after the tunnel is the bus stop. Take the bus in the direction of Amalfi/Salerno. Tell the bus driver that you want to go to Agerola as you have to change the bus before Amalfi. At the end of the walk in Nocelle or Montepertuso or Positano you take a bus back to Praiano. This includes quite some driving with the bus. An alternative is to take a taxi to Bomerano and return from the end point by bus or again taxi.
Therefore we prefer either to walk from the villa to Nocelle or further to Positano or then take the bus back to Praiano or start from Positano/Nocelle and walk down to the villa. For the first alternative you better have a reasonable good physical condition as you have to climb about 580 m (1700 ft.) altitude. Partially the path is quite steep. In the other direction -assuming you start in Nocelle – the path is till Colle la Serra mostly flat and then you have to walk down to sea level. When you want to walk down you go to the bus stop in Marina di Praia. Check the bus connections by reading the bus timetable or calling the Praiano tourist office (see info section). There are frequent connections between Positano and Praiano but only few from Positano to Montepertuso and less to Nocelle. Tell the bus driver that you want to go to Montepertuso. He will tell you when you exit the bus (in Positano) and take the next one to Montepertuso or Nocelle. Then you follow signposts or the description in Tippets guide till you reach Colle la Serra. There you leave the Sentiero degli Dei trail and follow the path down to Praiano. As an alternative you can also choose to descend to the monastery San Domenico, which you see below. The path starts before you reach Colle la Serra, is not marked and sometimes a bid rough. If you were not an experienced hiker I would not recommend it. But it’s a nice alternative. In any case you have spectacular views and arrive at the road in Praiano. There you walk towards the east and down to reach finally the villa. It takes about 3 hours from Nocelle to the villa and a bid more the other direction. Good hikers can of course walk to Nocelle and go back to the villa, or start in Positano, its always beautiful.
If you start from the villa, turn left at the exit, then walk through the tunnel and then just before the bridge take the path which starts there and leads you to Praiano. In the village walk higher till you reach the highest street. Better take the plan of Praiano with you, which you find in the villa. The path starts with a stair, which goes through a building then through olive gardens up the hill. See description in Tippets guide: Praiano to Colle la Serra. For the start/finish in Positano there are different alternatives, see the Tippet guide.