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Walk the Sorrento Peninsula: hiking at Punta Campanella

When you think of Sorrento, your first thought will probably be of golden beaches, gentle waves and the scent of lemons. But Sorrento and the Sorrento Peninsula have plenty of surprises, for both visitors and locals alike.

One experience you really have to try while holidaying in the area is a hiking trip. You’ll find plenty of trails to choose from, for all levels, from the peaks of Monte San Costanzo, to the views of the Fiordo di Crapolla and the green expanses of the Bay of Jeranto. One trail we especially recommend is that at Punta Campanella, which combines history, legend and picture-postcard landscapes.

The tower that time almost forgot

Punta Campanella sits at the most extreme point on the Sorrento Peninsula, and can only be reached on foot, with an hour’s hike. There was apparently a Greek temple here dedicated to the sirens and founded – so the legend goes – by none other than Ulysses, the hero of Ithaca. The ancient Greek myths took solid root in this part of Italy, as in the path that leads from Monte San Costanzo to Punta Campanella, known as the Path of Athena.

Punta Campanella has always acted as a crossroads for cultural and commercial exchanges, as well as a strategic land language disputed by enemy populations. So you can see the importance of the tower that was built in the 1300s, for defensive and control purposes. From the top of its stronghold, the entire bay can be surveyed, allowing for a sudden alarm where an incoming Saracen boat might be sighted. That’s why a bell was placed on top of the tower, to warn the inhabitants and other defensive towers positioned along the coast.

The sea view itinerary

Your trip to discover Punta Campanella starts from Termini, the apt name for the last village on the Sorrento Peninsula. From the town’s square you’ll find it easy to find directions to take the right path.

The itinerary, whose flatness suits those less trained, winds past the blue of the sea on one side, and the lively green of vegetable gardens, olive groves and expanses of grass, on the other. Continuing along the path, an ancient Greco-Roman mule track, the vegetation becomes less thick, opening up glimpses to the sky and nature as far as the eye can see. When you see the profile of the island of Capri, the Fossa di Papa Tower will appear on the right.

Finally you will go up to the plateau of Punta Campanella where the Saracen tower still stands as well as the remains of the Sanctuary of Minerva, founded by the Greeks and taken on by the Romans. Unfortunately only a few ruins remain today, but you can sense how imposing the construction would once have been. Stop for a moment and cast your eyes as far as you can to the horizon and beyond: the shapely Capri, from here, looks more seductive than ever. If you feel like it, finish your trekking excursion with the descent - a bit steep - that leads to the Grotta delle Sirene, stopping at the inscription in the Oscan language dating back to the 2nd century BC.

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