There came a time where I wondered what the path to heaven actually looked like, so a friend from Positano (an angel in disguise ?) offered to guide me in the mountains above the Coastline.
We rose above the tiny village of Nocelle (by bus) and took the stairs leading up from the houses where the Path of the Gods began. The track was originally that used by villagers to go to Agerola before the road along the coast was built. The path and gardens of Nocelle were full of blue borage flowers, the air perfumed with rosemary growing in the cracks of the rocks. I quickly realized that not all rosemary plants festooning the cliff faces had same intensity of perfume, so I broke off some of the choice pieces to dry and use in roasts.
My eight year old had tagged along to keep her little one company and the kids were off as soon as we hit the path. L. skipped and bounded confidently off the roughly cut rocks with mine following somewhat gingerly behind. You could tell who was from Positano and who was not.
It was late April but the sun was shining and warm and as we followed the narrow dirt track in and out of the mountain curves we became grateful for the cool respite in the glades full of wild cyclamens.
The whole mountain was a mass of flowers. Bushes filled with dainty spring blossoms lined the paths. I spotted wild lavender , broom, chamomile, citronella, and squeezed mirto leaves between my fingers. We even came across a grassy ledge with wild orchids hiding amongst the leaves.
Walk as we might, we always looked like we were on top of San Pietro Hotel. The path followed every curve in the mountain sometimes perilously close to the edges of cliffs.
A gaggle of goats stopped to watch us. We smelt and heard the clanging of their bells before we actually came across them, their red coats shining a henna rinse. Snakes slithered for cover and a scorpion lay slain by a previous hiker. That is the only scorpion I ever intend to see.
The kids had a break for a panino and then came the hard part. My friend had every intention of visiting a small monastery fallen into disuse called San Domenico tucked away in the folds of the mountain near Praiano. When she pointed it out, I thought it an improbable option as no path actually led there (or so I hoped). But she determinedly scouted ahead to see if the track continued down the cliff. We slipped and scrambled our way down steep stony goat-dropping infested paths, mostly on our bottoms, so as not to fall. Just as the path seemed to want to catapult us over its edge, it would twist suddenly and cross to the other side.
But the peril was well worth the visit. Frescoes graced the arches of the church with a simplicity which was refreshing.
A bell was positioned over the town of Praiano.
From then on the going was easy. A long stairwell brought us all the way down the mountain from the monastery to the village of Praiano. Halfway down some very steep stairs, a cardiologist had chosen a corner for his studio. Maybe it was for those who were on their way to the pathway to heaven.
For more info on the Path of the Gods, here is a good site.
Ciao Chow Linda’s has to take all credit for letting me know how to adjust photos for the blog. Take a visit and see her blog for yourself. Thank you Linda !