Beyond Amalfi

Feeling in need of a bit of exercise after all the good Italian food he has been eating, DonQui decides to go off and explore the Valle delle Ferriere behind Amalfi, away from the coast.

steps

He is advised that it is a moderate hike which involves some climbing but that there are steps up the steeper bits. Being a fairly sure footed beast, DonQui sets out in the morning intending to beat the late rising tourists and fast rising sun.

valley steps

The steps from the end of the town lead up steeply and it is a pretty exhausting climb.

lemon groves

DonQui pauses from time to time to catch his breath and take in the views as the steps go up and up over the lemon groves at the back of the town.

figs

A few overhanging fig trees give some shade over the 30 minutes it takes DonQui to reach the end of the steps and the start of the woodland train.

view

While the views looking back towards Amalfi are quite spectacular.

fora porta outside

Feeling a bit like Tolkien’s Last Homely House, the Fore Porta Organic Farm is the last watering hole before the wilderness beyond. As it is still early the Fore Porta is just setting up, so DonQui resolves to stop off on the way back for a bit of refreshment.

trail start

Then he heads off down the trail, glad that the slope has levelled off. He is equally glad that, despite the tourist crowds down in Amalfi, up here is is utterly alone.

mill ruin

Passing ruined paper mills abandoned centuries ago and now covered with vines and other vegetation, DonQui feels a little like one of Conan Doyle’s explorers discovering lost cities and lost worlds.

stream 2

The trail follows a fast moving stream which cascades through, over and down the rocks.

stream

It is this stream — the Ferriere — which powered the ancient paper mills when Amalfi was a centre of paper making in the late middle ages.

people waterfall

It is almost an hour before he encounters the first humans. A small group of them have stopped at a waterfall to splash about a bit. DonQui decides to cool off in the water for a moment or two then heads on to rediscover the peace of being alone again in this wonderful setting.

end 4

The vegetation, the abandoned mills, the fast flowing water and the solitude set his imagination off again.

bridge

He can almost imaging the leaves parting at any moment to reveal a Lost World dinosaur as he crosses a rickety wooden bridge.

salamander

Unsurprisingly he does not encounter any fearsome beasts but the many smaller ones he does come across do help to fuel his imaginings of their larger cousins.

indigenous

After another 30 minutes without meeting any humans he does come across a group of indigenous people camped by the river. They seem friendly enough and DonQui reassures himself that they are not likely to slaughter him for food.

end 1

One hour in from the Fore Porta DonQui comes to the end of the trail where a succession of waterfalls provide a magnificent vista.

end 5

These are not huge cascades but rather various trickles and sprays of water which fall down the cliffs, creating a wonderfully primeval atmosphere of water, rock and vegetation.

end 3

The trip back down towards Amalfi is a little faster and as noon approaches more people are to be seen along the trail.

scouts

One most welcome group is a troop of boy scouts offering lemon water and lemon pieces sprinkles with sugar. They provide DonQui with a most needed energy and hydration boost in exchange for a donation to whatever they are collecting for.

fora end

DonQui’s final stop at the Fore Porta is also most welcome. Here he sips on a lemon granita before heading back down to Amalfi.

Amalfi

Back from his African travels, DonQui Oaty now finds himself on the coast of Southern Italy. He is hoping to do a bit of work while at the same time taking in the ambiance and soaking up the sun.

IMG_1651

He is staying just outside Amalfi, sitting on a shady terrace, tapping away on his computer as he looks out over the Mediterranean.

He likes it here.

Why?

IMG_1663

It is not just the stunning scenery, although it is truly stunning.

IMG_2040

It is not just the winding medieval covered alleyways, although they are most atmospheric…

IMG_1967

… as is the fabulous Romanesque cathedral.

IMG_1633 1

It is not just the fabulous food — the superb fresh fish, the locally made mozzarella, or the perfectly ripe fruit and vegetables which seem to burst with flavour — although the food is indeed fabulous…

IMG_2039

… with the taste and scent the huge sweet local lemons permeating everything from risotto to limoncello.  .

IMG_1628

It is not even the superb wines although DonQui really enjoys them, especially the whites and rosés…

IMG_1695 1

… such as the Lacryma Cristi (tears of Christ) wines from the slopes of Mt Vesuvius not too far away.

IMG_1963 1

It is certainly not the hair-raising coastal road which is choked with noisy traffic and which the local bus drivers navigate with a frightening insouciance, flirting with the local girls rather than watching the road ahead. This despite the fact that there are only a few centimetres to spare between the edge of the road and certain death.

IMG_1655 1

DonQui Oaty especially likes Amalfi because here donkeys are properly respected. The donkey (ciuccio) is the mascot of Amalfi and his hard work, dedication and long-suffering heroism is celebrated in art.

IMG_0306

IMG_0308

The Donkey Head Fountain is dedicated to this noblest of animals.

IMG_0310

… while shops and art galleries are stocked with donkey inspired ceramics and souvenirs.

IMG_1662

All this is right and proper thinks DonQui. After all the precipitous cliff paths around Amalfi are far more suited to donkeys than humans.