Only a few stops on the local train from Pompeii, the short but incredibly scenic Mount Faito hike is well worth taking a few hours to explore (thanks Dad for the suggestion!). Aside from the views, it’s a welcome diversion from the crowds of Rome and Pompeii. The best part of this walk is getting there via a cable car, which starts from the Castellammare Di Stabia train station on the Circumvesuviana line. Departing every 20 minutes, a ticket can be purchased from the rather nondescript train station. (The frequency and operating hours of the Mount Faito cable car varies by month, and it’s closed December to March.)
There were only about 10 people making the trip up, and while I’ve read it’s a popular weekend escape from the heat for locals, on a week-day in late September it wasn’t at all busy.
There’s great views on the ten-minute journey up, looking out over the Bay of Naples to Mt Vesuvius on the other side. Even without doing a walk at the top it would be worth the round-trip (there’s a small restaurant/cafe at the top).
From the top of the cable car, there’s a path that leads down the mountain (so you could also walk up – or down – and catch the cable car one-way). Mount Faito (whose ancient name was ‘Monte Aureum) is one of the peaks along the Lattari mountain chain, at the base of the Sorrento Peninsula and is 1,131m high. We find the path that continues up the mountain, which starts at the far end of a shaded picnic ground just above the cafe/restaurant.
It’s easy walking – the first part of the trail to the from the cable car to the Monastery of San Michele is called the Il Sentiero dell’Angelo or “trail of the angel”, as it traces the route taken by the saints Catello and Antonino over 1000 years ago. The Trail of the Angel follows the edge of the mountain, and there are views over Salerno and the distant peaks of Piano di Trebucchi.
As the Mount Faito trail gradually ascends, it crosses some sections of rocky limestone and then a section of tall trees.
After about 40min walking, we reach Porta del Faito, a small clearing on the ridge with views over the Bay of Naples toward Vesuvius.
We admire the impressive views for a while, before turning back – it’s already 1pm and we need to meet the other half of the family at Pompeii. From here. it would be another 15-20min to the Monastery of San Michele and about an hour more to Monte San Michelle, the highest peak in the area. (Also called Il Molare, as it’s shaped like a molar!)
We re-trace our steps back the cable car, enjoying the views a second time on our descent back to Castellammare Di Stabia train station. (On the way down, we see – and hear – explosions and smoke emanating from a building on a distant ridge, which seem to be fireworks exploding. We never managed to figure out what it was!)