Translated Jeff Matthews
The "Telephone"...indeed a strange name for a mountain peak. The first question that pops to mind is, What did they call it before 1849 when Meucci was not yet aware of what might come from his experiments in electrotherapy. Mt. “Telephone” is one of the peaks of the Lattari chain; it's located along the ridge, which runs north-south separating the Tramonti valley from Cava dei Tirreni. From the very top you have a 360° view and can admire such distant points as Mt. Vesuvius to the north-west, Cava dei Tirreni to the east, Salerno and its gulf to the south-east and Ravello with the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium to the south-west.
Here below are detailed directions for your excursion.
After you pass the Valico di Chiunzi coming from the west (up from the town of Angri) and reach the roundabout, get onto the side road (immediately to the left of Province Road 2a) and go for 1.7 km to the parking space at the point where the road terminates near an agriturismo (farmhouse-inn). Leave your car and set out on foot, first on the small paved road that climbs along a series of telecommunication antennas for about one km. At that point get off the paved road and take the dirt trail for two km to a clearing where you will find a table and benches set up, the classic rest stop, and the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) indications of the various directions. This is where the real trail starts. Even if it seems evident, it's a good idea to follow a GPS track (we recorded one with it our Garmin GPSMAP 60csx).
The trail is almost all uphill. After 1.2 km you will be at the base of the cliff where you will find a number of small caves below the Monte Piano peak. This is where you can branch off on a trail that is a bit more adventurous than the traditional one. Enter the cave that is marked by a large Christmas star and climb up the wooden stairs to the upper chamber, passing through the hole in the back wall. You will then be at the other slope of the mountain (the slope that overlooks Cava dei Tirreni) and you can climb towards the top using your hands a bit for the trickier vertical parts. Once at the top, find the CAI trail markers with two stripes (one white, the other red) and follow along to the south until you get to the shelter at the top of Mt. "Telephone".
The Rifugio (shelter) is small and well maintained (it even has curtains on the windows). It's open and inside you'll find a small gas kitchenette (complete with a coffee maker and some dishes). There is also coffee, sugar, salt, marmalade, etc. (It would be fair to add a few non-perishables if you've brought them). There's also a tank of water, a topographical map of the Lattari mountains and a log where you can record your name and a few comments. Outside is a large wooden table with benches where you can enjoy a pleasant snack on this terrace among the clouds, overlooking heaven. It's all perfectly maintained and we express a sincere vote of thanks to the volunteers who set up and who continue to maintain the facility ("The Friends of Monte Finestra Association", if I remember correctly). Please respect it and, as the old adage has it, leave it better than you found it.
On the way down, we followed the traditional trail, staying to the left at the crossing; it was much easier than what we had done on the way up, and we were back at the base of the cliff and the caves. From there it was all downhill along the same route we had taken going up.
The entire hike is more than 11 km with an up and down differential in elevation of more than 600 meters. There are no water sources along the way, so take what you think you'll need (in the summertime, that's a couple of liters per person). Not counting the rest stops, it took us about five hours up and back.
Participants: Nano and Fulvio.
Here are links to the photos we took and to the GPS track. Feel free to download it and use it, but in any case approach this hike with caution, as there are some open points along the trail. Remember that GPS tracks are only indications; going into the mountains can be dangerous if you are not prepared for whatever Nature might decide to throw your way. Behave properly, do no damage, and bring back some good photos and memories of a day well spent with Nature.
p.s. On the way up we ran into another pair of hikers (father and son) and talked for a while. They told us that until the 1960s the trail was used by smugglers from the Tramonti valley to avoid paying a toll on their home-distilled “moonshine”, which they would trade for tobacco products in Cava dei Tirreni. The story reminded of a famous film with Totò e Fernandel, "The Law is the Law" in which the two play out a comic scene of cops and robbers.
Have a look.