Travel

Agerola: exploring the Land of the Gods

Nestled among the Lattari Mountains the village is a dream for hirers, outdoors enthusiasts and foodies.

By Laura Thayer,  photo by Michele Inserra @cartotrekking

Although not as familiar as Positano and Amalfi, Agerola has the nickname “La terra degli Dei” (“The land of the Gods”) that perfectly captures its setting – both lofty and beautiful. Nestled among the Lattari Mountains, which form the backbone of the Sorrentine Peninsula, Agerola sits at about 1,970 feet (600 meters) above the sea. Situated in this scenic mountain setting, the town is divided into hamlets dotted with church bell towers. Here nature reigns supreme with some of the best hiking on the Amalfi Coast and centuries of delicious gastronomic traditions to discover.

The history of its connection to the Amalfi Coast

Agerola’s unique connection to both sides of the Lattari Mountains has long shaped the town’s history. Situated along one of the two mountain passes along the Sorrentine Peninsula, Agerola has always kept one foot on the Amalfi Coast while also remaining closely tied to Naples. Although well situated for exploring the Amalfi Coast, Agerola isn’t administratively part of the Amalfi Coast. To understand why requires going back in time many centuries. Starting in the 9th century, Agerola was part of the Republic of Amalfi and in the Middle Ages its forests provided the timber needed to build Amalfi’s trading ships. Already at that time Agerola’s agricultural traditions were also highly valued. With the decline of the Republic of Amalfi, Agerola strengthened its ties to Naples and since the mid 1800s has been part of the Province of Naples. Today Agerola is still a part of the Province of Naples, while the Amalfi Coast villages are part of the Province of Salerno.

The Path of Gods trail

Agerola’s beautiful hiking paths

With the fresh mountain air and over 37 miles (60 km) of trails, Agerola is a dream for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Even a short hike rewards you with an abundance of untouched nature and astounding views of the Amalfi Coast. Follow pathways deep into valleys with mountains soaring above, explore small hamlets and rural communities, see ancient monasteries, and breathtaking panoramas of the Amalfi Coast and the tantalizing blue of the Gulf of Salerno.  Often considered one of the most beautiful walks in the world, the famous Sentiero degli Dei, or Pathway of the Gods, hike starts in Agerola and leads about 6.2 miles (10 km) down the coastline to Positano. Surrounded by mountains, sheer cliffs, and views stretching down all the way to Capri in the distance and Praiano and Positano far below, the experience is truly unforgettable.  Although the most famous, the Pathway of the Gods is just one of many beautiful hikes in Agerola. In every direction there are hikes that lead to magnificent vistas. You can even hike from Agerola all the way down to the sea at the charming Marina di Praia. Old stone pathways like these were the only connection between Agerola and the Amalfi Coast until the road to Amalfi was opened in 1935. Or hike east from Agerola following an old mule path to reach the ruins of the 12th century Covento di Cospiti. Here you’ll find a marvelous view overlooking the town of Amalfi and the coastline.

The abundance of nature

Agerola’s gastronomic traditions are especially rewarding after a long hike. Here in this mountainous setting, you won’t want to miss trying the locally specialties. An excellent place to start is one of the most antique traditions, the production of Pane Biscottato. These savory biscuits are made from loaves of whole wheat bread that are thickly sliced and then dried in the oven to create a very crunchy texture and fragrant flavor. They are often soaked a bit in water and then used to prepare salads or enjoyed with meals and even dipped in milk for breakfast. Another local specialty not to be missed is the Tarallo di Agerola, donut-shaped or braided biscuits made with the flavor of locally grown fennel or with butter and almonds.

Delicious cheese produced by Agerolatte, courtesy of Agerolatte

A cheese feast

Yet Agerola is primarily on the gastronomic map for its prized production of a variety of types of cheeses. For centuries families have passed down the tradition for producing fior di latte, a stretched curd cheese like mozzarella but produced with cow’s milk, as well as ricotta, smoked provolone, and caciocavallo. Among the many types of cheese to try, the most sought after is the Provolone del Monaco DOP made with milk from a special breed of cows called Agerolese. The cheese is seasoned for a minimum of 6 months and up to 15-18 months. The unique qualities of the milk along with the microclimate of Agerola and traditional production creates a delicious semi-hard provolone cheese with a smooth texture and slightly buttery yet piquant flavor.  Guided by five generations dedicated to the production of top-quality cheeses, Agerolatte produces top-quality fior di latte, ricotta, seasoned provolone, and butter. In the late 19th century, Onofrio Medaglia began creating artisan cheeses and securing their popularity with the Neapolitan market by reaching Naples by horseback and train. The same dedication remains today with Agerolatte’s dedication to traditions, but guided by the fifth generation there is a new focus on balancing tradition with sustainability and the highest quality levels.

The Pera Pennata

The final touch for sampling Agerola’s specialties is the chance to try the locally grown variety of pears called the Pera Pennata. These small, round pears are dark green and have a mild sweet flavor. They’re ideal for making jam, which is traditionally made with only the pear pulp and cane sugar. The family gardens and orchards of Agerola are also known for the Mela Limoncella, a variety of small apples that are juicy and a bit tart.  With extraordinary hikes along the Amalfi Coast, a peaceful atmosphere, and so much richness to savor, Agerola is a place you’ll want to not only visit for a hike but to stay longer to discover all it offers visitors.

Useful Information

Agerola and The Path of Gods: 

Local Food:

  • Caseificio Agerolatte, for cheese products www.agerolatte.it , email: agerolat@libero.it
  • Antico biscottificio e tarallificio Ruocco, for pane biscottato and tarallo di Agerola, tel. +39.081.879.1511

 

 

 

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