The Path to Italy’s Hidden Paradise: The Bay of Ieranto

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The Bay of Ieranto in Italy (Baia di Ieranto). Flickr/Gianfranco Vitolo
The Bay of Ieranto in Italy (Baia di Ieranto). Flickr/Gianfranco Vitolo

Many don’t know it exists. Others would never attempt the journey. With little written about it, and no signs marking its precise location, Italy’s Bay of Ieranto (Baia di Ieranto) is a hard-to-find paradise — a pristine inlet where the entrance to the trail is virtually undetectable. Cell reception is nonexistent.

Bay of Ieranto in Italy

Situated on Italy’s west coast, Ieranto requires a 40-minute drive from Sorrento followed by a 40-minute mountainous hike to reach the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. When the path starts to descend the back side of the mountain, you’ll find a bright blue bay and small sandy beach. In the distance, an 18-foot high platform extends over the water, inviting an adventurous leap into the glistening waters.

My friend and I were vacationing in Sorrent when we stumbled upon the Bay of Ieranto. We weren’t even aware of its existence until we spoke with a hotel worker named Lidia about another hidden beach we’d visited: Bagni della Regina Giovanna.

“Regina Giovanna,” Lidia said in her wistful Italian accent. “That is heaven.” She smiled as if this were rehearsed. “But the Bay of Ieranto, that is even more beautiful. Even than heaven.”

Walking the trail to Bay of Ieranto (Baia di Ieranto). Flickr/Gianfranco Vitolo
The trail to Bay of Ieranto (Baia di Ieranto). Flickr/Gianfranco Vitolo

She told us that it was near Nerano, a tiny town 40 minutes south of Sorrento. She also told us that the only way to reach Ieranto was to go on a 40-minute hike. What she didn’t tell us was that the entrance to the trail was impossible to locate. In our naiveté, we leapt into the journey.

The next day, we drove to Nerano, a fairly simple drive with the aid of a GPS. The most difficult part wasn’t getting to Nerano so much as it was getting out of Sorrento. Our faithful GPS guided us down some “streets” that were more like narrow corridors. We bent our side view mirrors in and even then, one still got scraped. On the way back from Nerano, we discovered that these “streets” were completely unnecessary to take, and I learned that relying on a GPS isn’t the same as always listening to it.

Once we extricated ourselves from Sorrento, we set on an idyllic drive, winding through verdant countryside and puttering through the centers of small villages. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we were seeing parts of Italy where tourists don’t venture.

While driving to the town of Nerano was easy, the problem we faced in getting to Ieranto was locating the trail entrance. We drove up and down Via Amerigo Vespucci, the single road through Nerano. It wasn’t until Marco, an elderly Italian man in a straw hat, told us to go a half-mile past the town of Nerano. The trail entrance, it turned out, wasn’t particularly close to the town center.

We parked in a lot across from a local hotel named Casale Villarena, and in the parking lot, struck fortune when we met a group of four Neapolitans who were on their way to Ieranto. “Follow us,” they said, beckoning us with their hands. “We’ll show you the way.”

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