Nerano is a sleepy town just south of Sorrento on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Where streets barely allow the passing of two cars and restaurants are disguised as homes. Tables shoved together under open bay windows are the only indication someone may be serving dinner there tonight. Red tiled roofs dot the hill as you drive in and just when you thought you reached the center of town you are already on to the next one.
It is a place even the most experienced traveler could have missed. But with the guidance of our local Italian host and the promise of a hidden trail and secret beach, it became a destination worth visiting.
In Nerano, there is only one convenience store that sells bottled water, ice cream and snacks. The owner speaks little English, but will guide you to the beginning of the trail if the store isn’t too busy. Otherwise, brush up on your Italian directions so you can understand what he is saying.
Along the curved cobblestone road, vines creep up the side of a white stucco home and the violet blooms all seem to point in one direction. For a moment it feels like you are stepping into someone’s backyard, but curiosity and reassurance from the shopkeeper keeps you moving forward. Almost immediately a pathway emerges and it is clear you have discovered the way.
The narrow trail hugs the side of the cliff for quite sometime, offering sweeping views of the bay. Nerano begins to disappear and so does the ocean the higher you climb. It’s a steep hill and the trees grow dense near the top, briefly blocking your view, but offering some much needed shade. And a place to rest.
Once over the crest, the ocean reemerges and the path turns into a crumbling staircase that traverses all the way down to it. Just as your legs begin to tremble from the steep steps, your final destination comes into view. It’s a tiny beach where turquoise blue waters splash effortlessly onto the rocky shores. A few couples can be found lounging in the afternoon sun. When it gets too crowded, people make their way a little further along the trail. A weathered concrete platform, perhaps once an old bunker, jets out near the private cove, providing additional seating and an ideal view back to the beach.
We settle in for the day and watch faded boats occasionally drift in and drop anchor. We take turns jumping into the cool waters. Read and fall asleep under the hot sun.
The shade drawing closer to the edge of our towels is the only way to tell how quickly time is passing. Once our bodies start to feel the cool of the encroaching evening we pack our bags and start the trek back up to Nerano.
The climb feels daunting, our bodies sluggish from a day of moving slowly, but we traverse quickly up the steps, racing against the sun. Just in time to watch it melt into the sea with a glass of wine in our hands and homemade pasta in our bellies.