The Path of the Gods—Sentiero degli Dei—is one of the most famous walking routes in Italy. It leads down a mountain to Positano. This seaside town is perched in a sheltered bay on the Amalfi Coast. According to legend, the gods came down from the heavens to walk the pathway to the sea to meet the sirens who tried to seduce Ulysses by their singing. I certainly understand the temptation—awe-inspiring views clear to Capri.
Leaving our hotel in Bomerano at 8:30 a.m., our group walks through the quiet village square. Our destination is Positano. Our guide reviews the map with us and then we begin the walk. The 5.6 miles (9 km) walk descends from Bomerano, through mountain paths and vertical cliffs, through tiny villages until it overlooks the pastel homes hugging the Amalfi Coast.
From Agerola to Nocelle through paradisePositano.com
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In January, there is no one else out except the walkers from Austria. The air is frosty. There is a chance of snow. It is grey out. But within a few minutes, we warm up as we pass the little sheds carved in the rock where shepherds still reside with their flock during inclement weather.
Turning a bend, I see a canvas unfurl before me of silver, blue, yellow, and pale peach. The gods’ paintbrush wields a dramatic arch. It feels as if around every bend we see a new discovery—a robin serenades us that snow might be on the way. Tiny white flowers paradoxically bloom out of limestone rock. A Virgin in her veil stares out from a huge mountainous hole in profile.
We stop for lunch in a colorful village that thankfully loves its felines. In fact, I meet every color and breed of Italian cat, including tabby, Russian blue, black and white, grey-striped, and possibly Norwegian.
The felines range from kitten to full-grown. These cats are happy to share my lunch so I pull off strips of cheese which they eat out of my hand. It delights me as I do miss my two Siamese cats at home.
I also delight to see the elderly women who meet in the square to feed the cats. It is a joy to watch the cats run to get their lunch. Meeting cats on my travels is a particular joy.
It takes us about five hours to walk 9 km through Noelle and then climb down another 1,500 (frequently grueling) stone steps to reach Positano. It appears the city carved is out of the mountain. Lovely pastel homes are stacked upon each other.
The reason this is all-day pursuit is you need to take frequent breaks to take a photo of the snaking Amalfi coastline below. OR simply gaze at the chiseled mountain that seems to look out on the Mediterranean like an old man’s face in profile.
Path of Poets
If you listen hard, you might hear the tempting cry of the three mythological sirens—who reportedly took the shape of a bird with a human head. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the sirens transformed into mermaids who bewitched sailors.
Certainly, many famous authors wrote lyrically when they first saw the Path of the Gods.
“Is this the view from on high along the Path of the Gods, opens to our sight?D. H. Lawrence
“. . . It is the picture of 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 forsaken and you find a lost self again. Mediterranean, before you,” writes novelist D. H. Lawrence.
His quote appears in Italian on large ceramic blue tiles painted with an image of the coastline.
The second set of pink ceramic tiles shows a quote by Italian writer Italo Calvino: “A journey is an occasion which can be renewed as a choice and a measure of an interior wish: in a sense it is right to restore the fantasy again, starting from the Path of the Gods, that road suspended above the magic bay of the Sirens, furrowed again today by memory and myth.”
There is no reason not to walk with the gods unless your legs are weak. I certainly feel every ache in my knees and calves as we slowly descend the dirt trails, stone steps and rocks to Positano.
But my imagination takes wing like a siren as I contemplate the panorama of sea, sky and earth.