High atop the Amalfi coast sits one of the most beautiful and unique perches from which to see the wondrous view below. Ravello, a small and exquisitely charming mountain town has throughout the centuries enraptured and seduced countless visitors, inspiring not only artists but all that would be mesmerized by the spell of its vistas.
Getting to Ravello is not necessarily an easy feat for the faint hearted and apprehensive driver; a narrow winding road climbs steeply to approximately 350 metres above sea level. Having achieved this however, the reward of the jaw dropping, magnificent view of Italy’s most beautiful coastline will have been well worth the endeavour.
The town itself, with its palazzi, secluded villas and romantic gardens, tells of its former glory when in the days of the Grand Tour it played hostess to artists and musicians. Even now, a sense of otherworldliness still pervades, but to get a taste of this, you should really stay the night.
The two best-known historic hotels in Ravello are Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. Most people come to these hotels to see its two magnificent gardens. Villa Rufolo was where in 1880 Richard Wagner famously drew inspiration for his opera Parsifal. In 1904 Lord Grimthorpe, bought Villa Cimbrone and created a grandiose garden with dizzying views. The villa was a second home for the Bloomsbury set in the 1920s and a love nest for Greta Garbo and the conductor Leopold Stokowski in the 1930s. 1 Condè Nast Traveller, Hidden Depths of Amalfi.
Villa Cimbrone: Brenda Kean, Dmitriy Shpilko photography
Ten Years ago I stayed at what was then known as Palazzo Sasso and is now
the Palazzo Avino. This is a beautiful hotel, which occupies a salmon-tinged 12th-century villa overlooking the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast. The gardens are terraces on 3 levels with a spa, a swimming pool and lounge area, a rooftop solarium with whirlpool hot tubs and an outdoor fitness center – all with impressive views of the Mediterranean.
When we stayed, it was a last minute booking and unfortunately all that was left was a small, but luxurious room, with no windows. Even so, the room cost a pretty penny, even then.
Palazzo Avino: from personal files
The cherry on the cake at this Moorish styled hotel was the Michelin star restaurant, which today is called Rossellini. I remember an extraordinary dinner and exceptional service. We still talk about it today.
Last September, we visited Ravello with friends and stayed at the Hotel Villa Maria. What an absolute treat staying at this reasonably priced hotel with a great restaurant, comfortable and well-sized rooms and magnificent views. Just outside the entrance gate an alleyway down to the main square is lined with lovely boutiques that sell the local ceramics, fashion accessories and all kinds of eye candy.
Hotel Villa Maria is one of those places that make one feel welcome and comfortable. I would definitely return.