In between the two uncomfortable flights described in my previous rant were fifteen pretty magical days of vacation. Two of those days were spent in the indescribably beautiful town of Ravello.
We had just spent three lovely days in Sorrento where we dined on the water, took a boat tour around Capri, toured Pompeii, shopped, and generally basked in the deliciousness of Italian coastal life. We drove the dizzying and spectacular Amalfi Coast highway (along with thousands of fellow vacationers) to get from Sorrento to Ravello. The hairpin tuns and the views left me dazzled and breathless, but I was disappointed at being unable to stop in Portofino along the way ( I wanted my Enchanted April moment) and at not being in a glamorous convertible wearing a chic scarf and sunglasses. However, any smidgen of feeling like I’d missed something vanished the moment we checked into our hotel room. The room was cool and large (by Italian standards) with a tiny balcony that looked out onto this view.
Being on a hill five miles above the coast, Ravello is quieter and more elegant than Sorrento or Amalfi or the other beautiful and charming coastal towns. As we walked, dusty and perspiring among the apparently more wealthy and beautiful visitors who don’t sweat, my husband and I felt both out of place and lucky to have decided to stay here. Ravello boasts a number of past and present famous residents including Richard Wagner, Andre Gide, E. M. Forester, and Gore Vidal. As we strolled the streets and gardens and admired the five-star hotels that should be featured in Architectural Digest if they haven’t already, I could easily see why artists would find inspiration in this city.
We were lucky enough to stumble (unobtrusively) upon a gorgeous bride being photographed in the Gardens (designed by Vita Sackville-West) of the Villa Cimbrone and to see several lovely members of her wedding party. They looked wonderful against the flowers and statuary. I walked away from visiting those gardens determined to add more colorful ceramic elements to my back yard. Isn’t this pretty?
As much as I admired the gardens at the Villa Cimbrone, I was blown away by our visit to the gardens at the Villa Rufolo. I love bougainvillea and campanula and the other flowers, but look at this stage!
Wouldn’t I love to be there for a concert! This stage is temporary: it’s erected every year as part of the Ravello Festival, something I knew nothing about until we entered the town. Had we known that Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass would be playing this incredible venue the week after we left, we might have flipped the Campania/ Tuscany legs of our trip.
If you decide to visit Ravello, check out the schedule for the festival and stay at the Hotel Parsifal. The three brothers who run the hotel are helpful, friendly, and charming. And the restaurant is excellent!