Having only worked for Miles Morgan for 8 weeks I could not believe my luck when I was offered an educational trip a couple of weeks ago. Someone had dropped out last minute and there was a space to fill. When I heard it was with Exodus holidays I jumped at the chance. Having attended a presentation with them back in September and hearing about how they started out 40 years ago, taking a group of adventures to Kathmandu in the back of a Bedford truck and all the different types of adventure holidays they now offer, I knew that a trip with them would be right up my street ( or mountain as it turned out!). I jumped at the chance, before even knowing where I was going and when it turned out it was to one of my bucket list destinations I was on cloud nine.
Walking boots and waterproofs packed I set off to meet my fellow trekkers. I was a little bit nervous as being a ‘newbie’ I didn’t know any of the other travellers but I needn’t of worried as they were all lovely and Ian, our Exodus Guide, did an amazing job of making everyone feel welcome and relaxed. There were only 6 of us all together and Exodus groups are normally no more than 16-20 people so you get to know everyone really well.
We arrived at Naples airport in the evening and our driver Edwardo was there to greet us with a warm smile and plenty of Italian charm. We drove just over an hour from Naples up winding mountain roads to our hotel which was to be our base for the next 5 days.
We were staying at the Hotel Due Torri in Agerola, Bormerano, a lovely little village up in the mountains and ideally positioned for the Walk of the Gods. It is run by the Acampora family and they were waiting to greet us and welcome us, into what felt like their home, when we arrived. We were shown to our rooms which were very nice. Comfy double bed (twins are available) plenty of storage space. A shower with mood lighting (I enjoyed my disco shower every day!) TV (which I didn’t have time to watch). It was lovely and warm, with under floor heating, ideal for those chilly mountain evenings, there is air conditioning for the summer.
We left our luggage and went down for dinner, which was amazing. Lots of homecooked Italian food washed down with local wine in a warm, friendly atmosphere. The family and staff were sat watching the football in the corner of the room, you really felt at home there. Whilst we were eating our Guide Severio came over to introduce himself and give us a brief for the next day. A bit of a Sicilian action man he was very knowledgeable, passionate about the local area and had a great sense of humour. We arrange to meet the following morning then went off to bed.
After a fantastic breakfast of fresh fruit, cereal, cold meats, cheese, eggs, yogurts, croissants and toast, washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee (or tea) we set off for our first walk of the trip.
Our driver Edwardo picked us up and took us to Ravello where we had some free time to explore this hidden treasure of the Amalfi coast. Perched on a hilltop, far removed from the crowds, this beautiful town attracts artists, intellects and composers due to its secluded location and inspirational scenery.
We passed the house where DH Lawrence stayed and supposedly got his inspiration for Lady Chatterley’s lover. We Visited the Villa Cimbrone, dating back to at least 11th century AD, famous for its scenic belvedere, the Terrazza dell’infinito (the terrace of infinity). Which has the most stunning views of the dramatic Amalfi Coastline. It is now a private 5* hotel and its beautifully landscaped gardens are open to the public.
We then stopped for our packed lunch that the hotel had prepared for us in the charming town square before setting off on our 10km walk from Ravello to Amalfi. The route was mostly downhill but included a considerable amount of steps. We continued through shady paths, carpeted with wildflowers, over wooden bridges, to the beautiful moss clad waterfalls within the closed gates of the Valle delle Ferriere National Park.
We had a quick stop in the village of Pontone, before following the stream gently downwards through lemon groves, shells of former paper factories (a major local industry from the 12th to 19th centuries) and mediaeval ironworks until we finally reach the town of Amalfi where we are met by Edwardo who takes us by minibus back to our hotel. Once again, another amazing meal at the hotel and we venture out to the village after dinner to sample the local bars and celebrate the completion of our first walk.
An early start today as we are off to Pomeii and I can’t wait as this is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go! Situated on the lower foothills of the volcano, Pompeii was a thriving port town until Vesuvius catastrophic eruption spanning 2 days in 79AD during which the city was buried in ash and pumice. Lost for 1,700 years, Pompeii is now a UNESCO World Heritage site as the perfectly preserved remains give an insight into life in a Roman City, complete with bathhouses, bakeries and homes, some of which still have walls adorned with detailed Frescoes and the original beautiful mosaic tiles on the floor. We sat in the impressive amphitheatre, the oldest surviving amphitheatre known to us, and imagined what it must have been lie with Gladiators fighting, chariot races and executions. We were fortunate enough to have a very experienced and knowledgeable guide, Hector, to accompany us, pointing out and explaining in detail, all the facts and history of this fascinating city.
After our tour of Pompeii had finished, we were met by Edwardo who took us to Cantine Del Vesuvio, a vineyard at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius. Here we had a tour of the vineyard and an explanation of how the wine was produced before going off to sample the finished result.
We had a total of 4 different wines to taste, a starter, 2 main courses and a dessert wine, all of which were accompanied by the most amazing food. Feeling very full and a little bit tipsy... we set of back to the hotel.
This evening we were treated to a marvellous cooking display from Nicola’s brother, Giovanni who is the hotels Chef. Along with the other guests in the hotel, we gathered in his kitchen, were given a glass of prosecco accompanied by these absolutely delicious pear chutney and cheese tartlets and watched whilst he expertly made homemade pasta, which he made a sea food tagliatelle with, followed by fillet of sea bream and finished of with Tiramisu, sampling bits of it as he cooked, we watched the professional prepare our evening meal, which we then polished off in the hotel restaurant
The highlight of the tour. Today we walk the magnificent ‘Walk of the Gods’. A 7 mile hike from our village of Bomerano to the colourful town of Positano. After another delicious breakfast we set of from our hotel and begin our walk. The path of the gods or Sentiero degli Dei, was once the only means of communication between the Amalfi coasts villages. Supposedly named from mythological tale of the Odyssey where legend has it that the Gods rushed to save Ulysses from the singing Sirens of Capri, stamping out this path in the process. It truly is breath-taking. Providing some of the most evocative views in the world. Ragged cliffs, speckled with tiny villages and the most stunning views of the sparkling Mediterranean sea and Amalfi coastline. I can see why it is often referred to as the best hike in the world. Our walk took us through undulating hills, carpeted with flowers. The trail is broken by insights into local life, passing shepherds huts and ancient Stone houses. Severio pointed out that one of the stone houses on the way was used for the Exodus family holidays as a picnic point. The kids love it as they are able to see the local mules and they have a BBQ, a very popular trip with families.
We were joined along our way by some friendly dogs who Severio explained often join the hikers as they are given food by us animal loving tourists, they were great company.
Around lunchtime we stopped at this beautiful little local restaurant, way up in the mountains, with the most amazing food and even more amazing views, truly a delight for all your senses. Once fed and watered we were off on our way again descending down a long series of steps to the unbelievably pretty town of Positano. An almost vertical town clinging to the rock face of a sheltered bay. We had some free time here to explore the narrow alleyways covered with wisteria and to dip our weary feet in the clear water on the beachfront, lined with local fishing boats and delightfully coloured beach huts and houses. We were then picked up by the ever-reliable Edwardo to take us back to the hotel for yet another amazing meal.
Today we were supposed to go to Sorrento and then take a boat trip to the Island of Capri. However due to very bad weather the boat was not sailing, so rather than make the long trip to Sorrento we decided to stay a little closer to home. The rain did not dampen our spirits and we set off to visit a nearby Mozzarella cheese making factory. It was very interesting (if not a little smelly!) They explained the whole process from start to finish of how the cheese was made and we got to sample some as well.
We then went for a rather long lunch at this wonderful mountain restaurant called Orrido di Pino. Here we whiled away a wet and windy afternoon with plenty of wine, great company and yet even more delicious food. In fact, we ate so much that we wished we were going on another walk to burn off some calories. It is fair to say that Italians truly love their food and I’m not surprised it really is the best I’ve ever had!
This was a wonderful end to the most amazing trip. I can truly recommend this holiday to anyone who enjoys walking. You do not have to be super fit as the pace is leisurely, although there is some rough terrain to negotiate. If you enjoy being outside and appreciating the natural beauty of your surroundings you will not be disappointed as the views are truly breath-taking, even in the rain! Our local guide Severio was brilliant, very knowledgeable and entertaining, as was our Exodus Rep Ian. And not forgetting our faithful driver Edwardo who drove us everywhere. Nicola and his family at the Hotel Due Torri went out of their way to make us feel welcome and I would have no hesitation in recommending people to stay here.
All in all, my first trip with Miles Morgan Travel was brilliant and I am very grateful to have been given the chance to experience this fabulous holiday. This is why I love my job!