Friday, May 07, 2010


i need to de-cheese.
just spent 3 weeks away in italy (with a KL stopover).
about night 8 TOH looked at me and said: so do you want to eat italian or italian?
i need to de-cheese.

view of positano: walk of the gods

stairs in atrani!!

looking down valley of watermills to amalfi

escaprment isle of capri - how the hell did i get up/down there? ;)


the centre-piece of the holiday was an 8 day walking tour of amalfi coast.
its sort of on the 'dorsum' of the foot for people with any anatomical knowledge of italy ('the boot').
exercise wise there were really only 3 true 'walking' days.
never really considered the exercise aspect pre-tour to be honest.
just made sure we had a waterproof top and some food/water each day.
the standard equipment for most in our group was water bottle, handbag and a $2 plastic poncho.
none of this was 'serious' walking.
having said this day 2 did involve going down 2000 steps and stuffed a lot of legs in the group - TOH had much more muscle soreness than the overland track mainly due i think to the hard terrain: steps/rocky paths and little true 'trail'.

day 1: met in naples
day 2: walk around naples/pompeii a longish day but not too much distance covered
day 3: 1st proper walk day from san lazzaro (agerola) down 1000 steps to furore.
1st half was basically past peoples back yards: past vines and lemontrees.
some liked the cultural aspect i felt like we were intruding :)
somewhat labyrynthine, in the last half some nicer dirt trail. notes said people could head back up and was somewhat suprised when the guide said no-one had ever done this in his 10 years there!
unfortunately it means missing lunch (they took a bus there then back to the hotel) which is probably why! ran back up in 50 mins (3.5 to walk down with the group) with some minor detours :) the guide asked TOH at one stage when i would get back. he texted me an hour ago was the reply.
he had no idea.

day 4: 'walk of the gods' from bomerano to positano via nocelle.
just a lovely walking day.
subalpine terrain somewhat unfortunately a foggy day but i think it added more atmosphere.
at a guess 6-7km of mostly easy trail.
we took 'the high road' which was more rocky and had less people on it. would've just loved to have come back and done an out and back at the crack of dawn all alone.
lunch was in nocelle and after the group got stuck into the wine and some 30%+ alcohol stuff and the singing started it was the bus down to positano (rather than the 600 steps).
though i guess both were potentially problematic!
i think from early on the guide picked the group as an eating/drinking/strolling/busing group rather than committed walkers ;)

day 5: isle of capri tour. nice easy day. lovely place we were to return there after the tour so got some maps :) lunch on 'the trail' looking out over amalfi, the ?bay of naples and the meditteranean.

day 6: rest day in amalfi - went exploring the route to ravelo in the morning so i could potentially run there the following day.
the 'trailhead' (more concrete path really) starts from the town adjacent to amalfi called atriani - was warned to just run along the road to get here then try and find the way up as the town was 'labyrynthine'.
my nav-prep consisted of me pointing to ravello from the ferry and the guide saying yep thats where it is. i had no idea which side of the valley to head up and didnt have a map. long story short i spent 30mins getting completely lost in a place i can only describe as the 'stairmaster of pergatory'.
you know that famous picture of the place with the steep steps going up and down an eventually meeting back at the same place? this was it.
found out later even the atrani locals get completely lost there.
long story short made it up to ravello in 55mins and headed back down.
got some maps later and strolled back to atrani for lunch with TOH and explored some more of the labyrynth!!

day 7: probably the nicest day of all. even nicer than pathway of the gods. the group had a quick look around atrani then bused it up to ravello. i ran it in 29mins. beat them up. once again the guide thought he might see me on the bus on the way up: nope had been there an hour.
had to laugh that i got to the 'right-side' of atrani in about 4mins, instead of 34 the previous day.
walk this day was pretty full-on until 5pm or so.
went via scala, minuta then to some pristine trail to the northwest of amalfi (valley fo the watermills) eventually descending past the old paper mill sites. just a lovely day. had i known of this area i would have loved to explore it earlier.

day 8: left amalfi

went to the isle of capri (anacapri) after the tour ended and was keen to do some exploring.
walked up mt solaro the 1st afternoon and went for a 2hr run up/down the escarpment the next morning.
to be honest got a little excited and was keen to do both the escarpment plus another 6-7kms at least.
got down the escarpment ok ('the passitiello'): was 50m visibility on a foggy day, decided to go exploring a more northerly route of coming back up which was supposed to be easier but was a rock/chain scramble :)
got up it fine (some scattered red dot markings) even though slow and faced a myriad of trails up the top. long story short they got smaller and smaller and i went briefly off trail thinking i could see a major trail nearby only to get a tad stuck in pricklebush (photo attached).
i was pretty stuck!
hmmmmmmm calm blue ocean calm blue ocean.
thought briefly about retracing my steps all the way back down/up the escarpment again!! although difficult and didn't fancy the chain back down but sure enough used the compass to find a major trail in another 5-10mins or so.
the next time i decided to head up the escarpment (from capri to anacapri) we took the 600 stairs and down we took a car :)

otherwise...some tready sessions in rome and KL.
did get out for 10km in the KL humidity (holy crap and i think brissie is bad!)
so even though i havent run for more than 2 hours since alpine i still feel pretty fit.
lots of time on feet even if standing/walking.

the group dynamics were funny (12 of us).
tour guide was a 60-something quite fit american-italian 'francesco' who was divorced and liked the ladies and the whole tour guide thing.
funnily enough we had a copious divorced ladies in the group. for the first 2 days there were only 2 blokes in the group! (1 couple arrived late).
one team member was a tad 'odd' at the initial meeting (well she was from adelaide).
the next day we noticed she could hardly get up an down the stairs in the hotel - to be honest she was morbidly obese and really struggled on day 1 - was suprised she even managed that.
needless to say she didn't do any of the proper walking days.
didn't make sense until frank mentioned that some people come on the tour with no intention of walking - its a cheapish tour and there are very few non-walking tours in the area.

more on the culture/food next post.
and more photos.


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