Agerola, a haven of trekking overlooking the Gulf of Sorrento
Agerola is nicknamed Little Switzerland because from the tops of the Lattari mountains that surround it (often snowy in winter), even in warmer weather a fresh and fizzy breeze arrives in town, thus creating a contrast with the Mediterranean warmth of the Amalfi Coast.
The town is considered a tourist resort on the coast even if it’s not actually over the sea: it stands indeed 600 meters a.s.l. just above the picturesque villages of Furore and Amalfi. Agerola hotels are frequented by tourists who wish to enjoy the fresh scent of the mountain near the sea. The town is famous for the richness of fruits provided by the land, but also for farms which produce milk for the production of butter and delightful cheese. The surrounding Lattari Mountains, are so called because of the milk produced by goats that graze on the slopes and the presence of numerous pastures.
Agerola is surrounded by lush vegetation, forests and peaks 900-1100 meters high. The town – the only of the Amalfi Coast in the province of Naples – is one of the areas protected by the Ente Parco dei Monti Lattari, an institution with the task of preserving this natural area.
Agerola: brief history
The town’s name derives from the Latin Ager, meaning field: terraced fields stolen since ancient times to the ridges of the mountains and the forests from which the Maritime Republic of Amalfi took the wood for its ships.
The area was notorious for robberies – that lasted until 1700, when the town was thwarted by the Bourbons; but in time, Agerola has become a thriving commercial hub in a strategic position at the center of the Sorrento Peninsula. At the end of 1800, a road was build to connect Agerola to Castellammare and the Gulf of Naples through the Lattari Mountains, giving further stimulus to trade and tourism. In this same period is the opposition of the nobles of Agerola to Ferdinand I of Bourbon, who had joined the coalition against Napoleon’s expansion in Italy. Instances of the French Revolution had made inroads into the local nobility: since then, a linden tree, symbol of freedom, is regularly planted in the churchyard of Our Lady of Loreto in the hamlet of Campora.
The Path of the Gods and hiking on the slopes of Agerola
There are many paths around Agerola, to be walked, to go trekking or mountain biking. From the village begins the Path of the Gods, a walk along the west part of the Amalfi Coast, which enjoys breathtaking views. The trail starts from the hamlet of Bomerano and ends in Nocelle, near Positano. Actually, there is a previous section that starts in Santa Maria di Castello, and comes to Bomerano, called High Path of the Gods, but the best known stretch and suitable for anyone who wants to walk is the one coming to Nocella, called Low Path.
The trail is a 7 km balcony overlooking a landscape that takes your breath away, but luckily the walk is mostly downhill. The stunning coastline 500 mt below, the woods, the crossroads with paths and stairways that climb from Vettica and Praiano, the pathways on sheer cliffs, are the corollary of some of the most famous resorts along the Path of the Gods, including the grotta del biscotto, immersed in the vineyards; the pinnacle of Colle Serra, the ruins of Cannati where you can pick delicious red mulberry; and grotta dei Briganti, reachable only by the most experienced and daring.
The Path of the Gods is one of the paths that branch off from Agerola and make it an ideal destination for lovers of hill walking. Among the most important routes, the Sentiero delle Fonti along river Penise, the 6 km long Cima dello Sparviero that leads to a spectacular view stretching from Amalfi to Salerno, while from the top of the Tre Cavalli you get a 360 degree view of the Amalfi Coast. The trail Denti del Gigante leads to Monte Sant’Angelo and the grotto called dell’Acqua Santa, while the sentiero dell’Alba trail climbs to Monte Murillo and from there to the medieval monastery of Cospita. The trail Antica Repubblica starts from the viewpoint of San Lazzaro and comes down to the beach of Santa Croce: Borgo Marinaro is the starting point of a long stairway to the fjord of Furore.
Cheeses, cold cuts and wines at the end of the path
After the labors of the walks, there must be some compensation. Because one of the reasons why Agerola is such an interesting tourist destination on the Amalfi Coast, are its foods, true delicacies for true connoisseurs.
The typical products of Agerola have crossed local boundaries and are found in the menus across the world. Starting from liquors, such as the 30% ABV Finocchietto, much appreciated for its digestive properties, or the Fragolino (strawberry liqueur), or liquors made from red mulberries or nuts, the latter is called Nocillo and is an ancient liqueur that comes to 40% ABV.
However, the typical food par excellence in Agerola is cheese. Starting from Provolone del Monaco, exclusively produced in the area around the Lattari Mountains with cow’s milk and matured from 6 to 18 months. Among the other cheeses, a smoked caciocavallo cheese, ricotta di Fuscella – essential in the traditional dishes of Campania, from filled pastas to desserts – the smoked scamorza cheese made from cow’s milk. The Fiordilatte di Agerola is a PDO cheese, i.e. bearing the “Protected Designation of Origin” certification: it’s a fresh cheese made from the spun paste of cow’s whole milk.
We cannot miss to mention cold cuts, starting from the traditional Napoli salami. Among others, the fresh and smoked pork sausage, sausage in lard said Sotto Sugna, produced in glazed ceramic pots, the legendary Capicollo, soft and aromatic, and the Pancetta Arrotolata, already known in Roman times. All this can only end with a fried zeppola, which is already mentioned by Latin authors: flour, water, salt and hot wine.
The local wines are the typical ones of the Sorrento Peninsula: Lettere, Gragnano, Sorrento and Pompeiano, in their variants, white, red and sparkling red.