14.03.2014 BEST OF THE COAST

Rounding a spur, the path levels out and you find yourself looking down past a bright green amphitheatre of terraced vineyards to the shimmering sea below. For an instant, like Alexander Selkirk in William Cowper’s poem, you are “monarch of all you survey”. Welcome to the Sentiero degli Dei – the Path of the Gods.

The Senitiero degli Dei is just one of many ancient Amalfi Coast mule tracks that today have today been rediscovered by leisure hikers. Cari Gray of bespoke walking and cycling holiday company Gray & Co. ranks it among her very favourite hikes anywhere in the world. But some of the area’s less exposed village-to-village paths are equally ravishing – like the climb up a flight of ancient, weathered stone steps from Amalfi to Ravello via the hamlets of Pontone and Minuta, past lemon groves that cling to improbable gradients. Or another stepped ascent – the path that leads from Positano up to the hamlet of Nocelle, a still authentic rural community which until fifteen years ago could only be reached on foot. The view in the photo above is taken from here.

In collaboration with Le Sirenuse, which reopens for the 2014 season on 29 March, Gray & Co. is offering a package from April 20-26 designed to open up this hidden world above the bustling coast to a small, select group of walkers.

Guests will stay at Le Sirenuse for a minimum of three nights, indulging in all the sybaritic pleasures that the stylish Positano resort has to offer, while building up an appetite for Matteo Temperini’s Michelin-starred cuisine on a couple of energising hikes in the back country. The package includes a sea-view room, daily breakfast, two massages, one dinner for two with local wine, plus one signature Gray & Co. full-day hike and one half-day hike, all at the special price of €600 per room per night + 10% VAT.

For Gray, walking is the only way to “absorb the essence” of this near-vertical paradise. “Only on two feet”, she says “do you have time to smell the lemon blossom, discover hidden Roman ruins, admire the incredible views and tune into the unhurried rhythms of local life”.

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