Holidays to Ravello serve up superior views of the Amalfi Coast, plus ancient villas and famous gardens that are heaped with the region’s Neapolitan charm.
The high ground
When the Amalfi Coast’s seaside jewels, like Positano and Sorrento, started to become magnets for holiday-goers, those in the know escaped to under-the-radar Ravello. Hidden high up in the mountains, and with staggering views of the Bay of Salento, this dainty town’s welcomed its fair share of celebrity visitors – most famously Greta Garbo, and author Gore Vidal. The Mediterranean beaches may be seven kilometres away, but who cares when you’ve got the world at your feet.
Ravello’s manicured gardens are an Englishman’s dream. Pay a visit to Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo to find wisteria-lined walkways, rose gardens, and panoramas that melt into the horizon. Villa Rufolo’s grounds are said to have inspired Richard Wagner, who included them in his opera, Parsifal. The town returns the favour by hosting an internationally renowned classical music festival every year in the composer’s honour.
Ravello trades on its discreet, unruffled charm. Its web of car-free lanes, which spider over the mountaintop, all seem to lead back to Piazza del Duomo, the main square. It’s here that the cathedral, originally built in the 11th century, casts its shadow in the midday sun. Elsewhere around town, you’ll find a few dozen trattorias and pizzerias serving tasty Italian cuisine. Ravello’s other major talent, fine ceramics, is on display at a handful of celebrity-frequented shops.
Close to Amalfi
Ravello’s closest neighbour is Amalfi, a picture-postcard seaside town 15 minutes’ drive away. Navigate the hairpin bends to get here, and you’ll be met with a popular pebbly beach, a towering cathedral, and vibrant nightlife. You can also take the boat to the island of Capri, or to pretty Positano, from Amalfi’s harbour on Spiaggia Grande.
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