Ravello, a terrace on the Amalfi Coast
Perched on a hill over 350 metres above sea level, the municipality of Ravello is one of 16 on the Amalfi Coast, all within the province of Salerno.
There is a unique panoramic view from this magnificent natural balcony, ideally positioned to admire one of the most magnificent coastlines in the world from above.
The air is healthy and infused with the scents of the Mediterranean maquis, while the ancient villas embraced by flowering gardens testify to the love that noble souls had for the place.
Ready for an itinerary that will sweep you off your feet?
An ancient and dreamlike residence
Villa Rufolo overlooks Piazza Vescovado, the heart of Ravello. It was commissioned in mediaeval times by the family whose name the residence carries, as a sign of luxury and power. Between declines and resurrections over the centuries, the villa has now returned to its original splendour, praised by the likes of Boccaccio, who dedicated verses to it, and Wagner. So much beauty will captivate you too, starting with the building that is a mixture of styles: Arab, Sicilian and Norman. Go past the entrance tower and be sure to climb to the top of the Torre Maggiore, where an open view of the entire Gulf of Salerno awaits you. Enter the rooms and then take some time to admire the wonderful garden spread over several levels. Cypresses and lime trees lead you to the Moorish cloister, where the colour of the flowers caresses your soul and envelops you in a romantic ambience: oleanders, hydrangeas, little mock orange flowers, among shrubs of fragrant rosemary and hawthorn. In July, the villa hosts the Ravello Festival series of musical events.
On the Terrace of Infinity
In Ravello they call it the Terrace of Infinity, the viewpoint of Villa Cimbrone. It's an elegant balcony decorated with eighteenth-century marble busts. You overlook the coast, lost in the blue of sky and sea broken only by the yellow of the lemon groves.
The villa is an exclusive five-star hotel, but the gardens are open to the public. Breathe in the scent of wisteria, linger along paths lined with statues and small temples, pause in the Rose Garden and take an extended break in the Tea Room, with its Moorish-style gazebo decorated with Roman columns and sculptures. The name of Villa Cimbrone is also linked to Greta Garbo, who fled here in the spring of 1938 to live out her brief love affair with conductor Leopold Stokowski away from the spotlight. Look out for the plaque commemorating the starlet's stay here.
Experiences in the village
Start from Piazza del Vescovado, the centre of Ravello's historic village, a cluster of narrow streets and colourful houses clinging to the rock and surrounded by greenery. Here stands the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and San Pantaleone, with its bronze portal decorated with 80 figurative tiles and the lavish chapel devoted to the town's patron saint. It is fascinating to visit the ceramic workshops, to buy beautiful objects but also to chat with the craftsmen: they will be able to tell you a lot about their handicraft skills, a precious tradition handed down through generations. If the subject intrigues you, visit the Coral Museum, a small, colourful world created by collector Giorgio Filocamo.
Pack your swimsuit
Although located on high ground, Ravello also has its own outlet to the sea. Here on the Amalfi Coast, the must-have garment to carry with you at all times is your swimsuit, because wherever you go you will come across enchanting bays and secret coves.
The beach in Ravello is located in the hamlet of Castiglione and can be reached both by sea and by land via the state road and down a flight of a couple of hundred steps.
From below you can see the noble palaces of Castiglione, and on the other side the silhouette of the village of Atrani with its central church. All the rest is crystal clear sea and cliffs, which cast their shadow over the bay in the afternoon. A visit in the early morning hours is therefore recommended if you are looking for sunshine.