The scenic route from the Italian town of Amalfi up to Pontone and back is a time-travelling trip through the coast’s lemon-growing and paper-making history. The hike takes you through the Valle delle Ferriere, past waterfalls, and into the wilds where a short detour leads across a stream to the Riserva Integrale, home to a unique microclimate that supports plant life not found anywhere else on Earth. Pack a camera, because the entire route features unmatched views of Amalfi’s natural beauty.
You don’t have to be an athlete to hike the Valle delle Ferriere — you don’t even need to own hiking boots (though you can certainly wear them if you do). The walk from the town of Amalfi and through this beautiful valley is uphill, but it isn’t extremely difficult, especially if you take your time to take in the view (and take photos, which you’ll want to do every ten steps or so).
What you’ll want to pack is some water, sunscreen, and (most importantly) your camera! Take the trail at an easy pace, and three or four hours will give you plenty of time to see the sights and stop for a snack. At the top, the reward is a stunning oasis of natural beauty: Amalfi’s Riserva Integrale. And while it might be the reason to take this journey, the valley has so much more to offer. Here’s are five reasons to add it to your travel bucket list.
1. The lemon groves
Amalfi’s famed lemons are a cross between bitter oranges and a kind of smaller lemon imported from the Middle East centuries ago. Groves filled with the large, brilliant yellow citruses line the first half of the walk through the Valle delle Ferriere, filling the air with the scent of their blossoms or their fruit, depending on the time of year you visit. Originally grown as a crop to keep the coast’s sailors free of scurvy, today the lemons go towards the production of all types of lemon-based products, including limoncello, a refreshing liqueur that’s a regional specialty (and a definite must-try).
2. Evidence of a centuries-old history
From the valley’s legendary paper mills to the remnants of an Amalfi aqueduct once used to irrigate the community’s crops, history stands strong throughout the Valle delle Ferriere. At the base of the path in Amalfi, you’ll find the Museo della Carta, a museum dedicated to the coast’s paper production which dates back to medieval times and is still renowned for its quality today. Along the valley the ironworks it was named for can be be spotted, historical ruins on their way to being pulled back into the natural world.
3. Agricola Fore Porta
Picture this: you’re climbing Valle delle Ferriere’s stone stairs and, right before your reach the forest trail, you stumble over the most adorable cafe ever, serving up sandwiches, pastries, and cold drinks (get the limoncello slush!) at the exact moment you’re craving them. Agricola Fore Porta is part café, part organic farm. Depending on the season, you might find staff busy drying pepperoncini, tending to beehives, harvesting herbs and vegetables from the garden, or tending to a gaggle of camera-loving geese. The bonus? A shaded terrace with an Instagram-worthy backdrop.
4. The unmatched “wow factor” of those valley views
Look closely at what’s right in front of you and you’ll see lemon trees, grape vines, and stonework dating back hundreds of years. You’ll also see beautiful, traditional Southern Italian homes that have carved out just enough space to perch of the edges of Valle delle Ferriere. Look into the distance and your see mountain tops, waterfalls, and a glimpse of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The point is: no matter where you look, when you’re on the trail above Amalfi, you’re going to see something incredible.
5. The appetite a good hike can inspire
The coast’s culinary specialties — including the gnocchi-like ’ndunderi, and seafood-laden scialatielli, a spaghetti-like pasta — aren’t exactly light meals, but they are delicious. You can’t visit Italy without being prepared to eat, and that long walk will most definitely spark your hunger. Nothing compares to a big plate of fresh pasta after a hike, so go ahead and indulge. You earned it.