One of my favorite towns on the Amalfi Coast is Ravello. Perched on high (365 meters above sea level) this is one of the places to enjoy the most stunning views of the Amalfi Coast. The town itself is devastatingly beautiful, has a fascinating history, and is a lovely place to either base your Amalfi Coast trip, or to devote a day (and night) to.

After a slightly hair raising drive full of switchbacks up a steep hill you turn the corner and the stunning view of the Tyrrhenian Sea just explodes in front of you. The Moorish architecture of the Villa Rufalo is one of the most famous and instantly recognizable Amalfi Coast landmarks, and from any of the many viewing places it feels as though you are floating, suspended between the sea and the sky.

Villa Rufolo Ravello

View from Villa Rufolo, June 2017

Ravello’s History

Ravello is thought to have been built by a Roman colony fleeing the barbarians. In the 9th century a group of noble families from Amalfi moved up the hill seeking refuge from the control of the Doge. The town earned enormous wealth from the production of its “Celendra” wool, and the noble families gave it a deliciously aristocratic air. In the 11th century they nominated their own Duke and tried to sever ties with the Republic of Amalfi.

By 1200 Ravello was thriving and had a population of around 36,000, but financial decline soon followed, and by 1800 the population was so small that the town was absorbed back into the diocese of Amalfi.

10 Things You Must To Do In Ravello

Eat At Da Salvatore

This restaurant not only has one of the most amazing views anywhere on the Amalfi Coast, but also is considered to be one of the very best restaurants on the coast.

View from Da Salvatore, Ravello

Taking in the view from da Salvatore restaurant in Ravello

Located next to the bus stop it is super easy to find. If you want to enjoy the view but prefer to be a little more budget conscious they also have a fabulous sandwich and salad style casual restaurant when you first walk in from the street.

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Villa Rufolo

Villa Rufolo Ravello

You cannot come to Ravello and not visit this 13th century villa. Built for the wealthy Rufolo family, it was also the home of various popes over the centuries, as well as King Robert of Anjou.

Villa Rufolo Ravello

From the Moorish architecture to the terraced gardens there is so much to see here. One of the Amalfi Coast’s most famous views is from the villa grounds.

Villa Rufolo RavelloVilla Rufolo Ravello

The gardens and grounds are so beautiful they are every bit as famous in their own right as the villa itself.

Villa Rufolo Ravello

Wagner stayed at Villa Rufolo in 1880 while he was composing Pasifal, and now every year Ravello hosts a Wagner Festival on the villa’s magnificent cliff terrace.

Every summer the Ravello Music festival takes place on the grounds of Villa Rufolo. An evening under the stars taking in one of these concerts is just spectacular! Make sure you are dressed for the occasion though. Ravello is very dressy and chic.

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Villa Cimbrone

Just south of the town’s cathedral you will find the Villa Cimbrone. Built in the 11th century by the Acconciajoco family, two centuries later it passed to the very powerful Fusco family, who were related to the Pitti family in Florence and the D’Angio family in Naples. The Fusco family owned the villa for more than 500 years during which time they completed major renovations on both the villa and the gardens. Recently a marble plaque commemorating this work, dated 1620 was found. The newly restored fresco on the first floor of the villa next to the entrance to the old building shows family members during the renaissance.

After the earthquake at the end of the 1700s the area started to decline, and with political and economic troubles through the 18th and 19th centuries the Fuscos lost significant wealth. On the 31st of August 1864 the family had to settle their debts by handing over the property to the Amici brothers.

Even though the property was abandoned for a while its gardens remained spectacular. In 1905 Ernest William Beckett, the 2nd Lord Grimthorpe fell in love with Cimbrone and bought it from the Amici brothers. Once again restorations were made on the villa and also the gardens.

After the second world war the villa was again abandoned, this time for a decade. At the end of the 1960s Marco Vuilleumier began painstakingly restoring the gardens step by step returning them to their original spectacular state, an ongoing job that is nearly complete.

Villa Cimbrone Infiniti Terrace

Villa Cimbrone Infinity Terrace (not my photo)

Cimbrone is one of the most important cultural heritage sites in all of Campania and the gardens are world renowned.

Villa Cimbrone Infiniti Terrace

Villa Cimbrone’s Infinity Terrace (not my photo)

Cimbrone is now a luxury hotel but the gardens are open to the public. One of the most famous and mesmerizing views is the belvedere, The Terrazzo dell’Infinito (Infinity Terrace). Over the past 2 centuries many well known artists, writers, musicians and actors have found their way to Cimbrone, some keeping it as their place of refuge, others never wanting to leave.

Twenty five years ago I was asked by an American magazine what was the most beautiful place that I had ever seen in all my travels and I said the view from the belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone on a bright winter’s day when the sky and the sea were each so vividly blue that it was not possible to tell one from the other.

Gore Vidal

The Duomo

On the eastern side of Piazza Vescovado you will find the Ravello cathedral. Originally built in 1086 it is easily identifiable with its triple arched façade and its spectacular bronze door. The door was created in 1179 and is one of only about 2 dozen bronze doors still in use in Italy.

Sigligaida Rufolo

The cathedral has a fabulous museum that amongst other things contains a marble bust of Sigligaida Rufolo, that is considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces of 13th century art.

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Belmond Hotel Caruso

This beautiful hotel is at the opposite end of town to Rufolo. It is worth while taking some time to wander around the property.

Belmond Caruso Infinity Pool

Belmond Caruso infinity pool at dusk

The view from the infinity pool is stunning, the hotel itself is lovely, but my favorite thing is the piano bar. I love having a glass of wine in the piano bar just before sunset. The arabesque windows are gorgeous, the view wonderful, the service is fabulous and the experience is priceless.

Villa Rufolo Ravello

The piano bar at the Belmond Caruso is the most gorgeous place to have a late afternoon/early evening glass of wine.

Walk And Walk And Walk

I love to just wander up and down all the little streets, up and down the stairs and walkways, basically just wander all over. Ravello is charming and lovely and full of history. You will find so many things to photograph and you will burn off lunch while you are at it – Ravello is quite steep!

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Belvedere Princess of Piedmont

The villas in Ravello are famous for their gardens, but there is another spot to stop at that has a gorgeous garden and a sensational view. Just along from the Caruso on the via San Giovanni del Toro you will see an old stone arch that leads into Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte.

Belvedere Princess Piedmont

This is a small garden with trees that provide welcome shade on hot days, fragrant seasonal flowers, and benches to sit enjoy it all from. The view looks out over Minori and Maiori.

Belvedere Princess Piedmont

My friend Denise walking along via Giovanni del Toro to the Belvedere

This is actually a very popular spot for weddings. I love wandering over there when I want a break from the tourists that congregate at Villas Rufolo and Cimbrone. Most of them don’t know about this Belvedere, making it a lovely place to get a little peace and quiet with some shade and a view! If you are staying in Ravello it is the perfect spot to read a book or a newspaper.

The Church of San Giovanni Del Toro

This little church is worth a visit. Named for John The Apostle and “Il Toro” the aristocratic neighborhood it was built in, it translates to St John of the Bull. Built in 1089 and then restored in 1715 after the earthquake, the church fell into disrepair at the end of the 19th century and then again in the early 20th century. It has been restored now and has some interesting things for art and history lovers to come and see.

The pulpit dates back to the 13th century and has some wonderful and fascinating mosaics as well as some frescos that are well worth seeing.

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The Ravello Music Festival

If you are planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast during the summer months you should try to spend an evening in Ravello at the music festival. The schedule is posted months in advance so you will have plenty of time to choose an event and buy advance tickets.

The concerts all happen on the grounds of Villa Rufolo, weather permitting, outside under the stars. Once when a storm was on the horizon they moved a concert I was attending indoors, which was equally spectacular, being the first time I had ever been to a concert in a 12th century villa perched on a hill overlooking the Amalfi Coast!

Most of the concerts are classical music/orchestras/chamber groups etc. Even if you don’t see your type of music or something that you would specifically like to see, I still recommend going just for the experience.

Ravello music festival

One year the only night that I could go to the festival there was a Russian violinist playing with a pianist in one of the smaller outdoor areas. It wasn’t anything I was particularly interested in, but I wasn’t willing to miss the experience.

It was amazing! The violinist was in her early 20s, with long blonde hair, dressed top to toe in black Dolce and Gabbana, (so I didn’t have incredibly high expectations, thinking she looked more like a supermodel than a classical musician). As it turned out she wasn’t just fascinating to watch, but was completely sensational! The experience was priceless and I would not have missed it for the world.

Other larger concerts are held on the infiniti stage, with the unimpeded view of the Tyrrhenian Sea stretching out as far as the eye can see.

If you are going to attend a concert at Villa Rufolo make sure you dress appropriately. It is quite chic!

 

Best Places To Take Great Photos With A Spectacular View

Villa Rufolo gardens

Villa Cimbrone Belvedere Terazzo dell Infinito

Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte

For more things to see and do in the area check out my Pinterest Board  Amalfi Coast, Naples and Capri Travel Tips

If you have some other “must do’s” in Ravello, please add them in the comment section below!

The following videos are not my own. They are from You Tube, and are well worth watching

Villa Cimbrone Drone Video

Villa Rufolo

Ravello By Drone


Allianz Travel Insurance

I have heard multiple times already this year about a new-ish scam that is running in Italy and across Europe. I haven’t encountered this one yet myself but it sounds like it is going to be everywhere this summer. Originally I planned to send this a an email to the travelers on my upcoming Glam Italia Tours, but as so many of you will also be heading to Europe this summer I want you to be aware too.

Scams To Be Aware Of In Europe

Any place that has lots of tourists is going to have its share of scammers and petty thieves hoping to separate them from their valuables.

The following are three scams you need to be watching out for, number three is the new one.

1. Be Wary Of Beggars

Just as we have homeless people panhandling here in the USA, in Europe you will see beggars, especially around big tourist attractions. In Italy you will see them around the big churches and cathedrals, in Paris you see many more, and they seem to be on the streets in the busy areas.

I will happily buy food for the hungry, and do it all the time, but when it comes to beggars in Europe I generally keep my distance. I am there often enough to see the same faces working the same places, year in and year out.

You will see gypsy women on their knees in the gutter, crying and begging for money. Look a little closer and you will see they’re not thin or starving, in fact plenty of them are chunkier than I am! Often (but not always) they work in teams. Their partners are watching from across the street or somewhere nearby to see where you pull your money from, and what valuables are on your wrists and fingers. A few minutes later they bump into you or distract you, and before you know it your wallet is gone, your watch is gone or whatever they wanted is gone.

As much as you want to be compassionate, don’t be.

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2. The Ring Scam

This one has been happening in Paris forever, but last year while there I finally was able to see it in action. I let it keep going for ages just because I was so entertained, but I seriously advise you to walk away and not engage should this happen to you.

The way it works is the scammer will pretend to find a ring on the ground not far from you. They will politely ask if you dropped it or if it is yours. As they look at it they will tell you it has an inscription, normally something to do with how many carats gold it is.

If you let them keep talking they will tell you they don’t have papers to be in the country so can’t turn it in or sell it, and then they try to convince you to buy it from them.

Remember if you let these people get physically close to you chances are they will rob you without you being even slightly aware of what is going on. And of course, do not even think about buying the ring! It is a fake, and on top of that you are showing them where your money is.

I haven’t been aware of this scam in Italy, but then again after a lifetime of going back and forth to Paris, last summer was the first time I actually saw it there, so who knows?

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3. The Bracelet Scam

This one is happening in Italy at the moment. I have seen it discussed on some of the Facebook groups and travel forums I belong to several times already this year. So far travelers have been in Florence and in Milan when this has happened, but it no doubt happens elsewhere too.

A man or woman stops you and asks you the time or for directions, (or for whatever they can get you to stop for) then they grab your wrist and tie a bracelet onto it. As soon as it is tied they start demanding money for it. Travelers have reported being followed down the street, and one reported being threatened. Aparently the scammers are quite aggressive.

Should this happen to you, yell at the top of your voice. They figure that you will quietly acquiesce and they will get away with it. If you make a lot of noise other people will stop and any police in the area will come (if they hear you). The last thing a scammer wants is the attention of a crowd or of the police, so make as much noise as you can.

While you are traveling you need to be aware of pickpockets and scammers. If someone approaches you, don’t stop to speak to them. Scammers are banking on you being naïve, gullible and unaware. They plan on you thinking it would be rude not to stop and acknowledge them.

The ladies traveling with me are pretty much safe, because I think, scammers can smell the fierceness of a firey redhead coming their way and won’t waste their time with the significant trouble on the immediate horizon (me) when there are plenty of unsuspecting tourists to pick on.

That being said, I will be telling my travelers exactly what I am telling you:

*Keep your handbag closed at all times. If your bag has a flap closure wear the flap side against your body.

*Always keep your hand on your bag.

*Guys, don’t put your wallet in your back pocket.

*Don’t stop and talk to people who approach you– if someone needs to know the time or needs directions there are plenty of other people they can ask. An Italian is not going to stop a tourist – they will ask another Italian. If someone is approaching you, trying to get your attention or trying to talk to you, ignore them and keep moving.

The best way to avoid pickpockets, gypsies et al is to be aware. Know they are out there but that they are looking for easy pickings. When you look like you are aware of your surroundings and your belongings you are less enticing. Don’t hang your handbag on your chair, don’t put your bag or your camera down and turn your back on them, don’t flash money around.

Before you let yourself get panicked, remember that here in the USA the bad guys have guns. In Italy and across Europe they don’t.


728 x 90 Orbitz Lost Stolen Passport

 

Have you ever wondered where travelers go to get those amazing, panoramic views of Florence? Where they take the postcard-like photos with the Duomo, the Campanile and the tower of Palazzo Vecchio standing out majestically against the beautiful backdrop of the city with the Arno river cutting through it? It just so happens that this place is the best spot in all of Florence to watch the sunset.

View of Florence at sunset

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Florence City View

 

If you are in Florence at the end of the afternoon I recommend taking the 30 minute walk from the heart of town up to Piazzale Michelangelo. Plan to arrive half an hour before sunset so that you have time to look around, take in the views, and get some great photos.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Late afternoon, Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Alternatively, spend the late afternoon in Piazzale Michelangelo and then wander back down the hill and onto one of the bridges and catch the setting sun as it meets the Arno. It is such a beautiful sight – you will remember it forever!

Florence Sunset

Sunset on the Arno River

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What Is Piazzale Micheangelo?

This is a square dedicated to the famous sculptor and painter. It has bronze copies of his work including the David. But perhaps more importantly it has the most beautiful, sweeping views of the city.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Where Is Piazzale Michelangelo?

Michelangelo’s Square is across the river from the Duomo in the Oltrano district, perched up on the hill.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

How To get To Piazzale Michelangelo

There are several ways to get up to Piazzale Michelangelo. My favorite is to walk. If you cross over to the south side of the Arno at any of the bridges you can walk parallel to the river (there are signs from Ponte Vecchio) heading upstream towards the Torre San Niccolo’, an old tower that was once part of the medieval city walls. It is easily spotted jutting up above the rooftops.

Once you reach the tower you are actually directly under the piazza. You will see the staircases working their way up the hill into the park. Be prepared for some significant thigh burning as you head up there, but on the bright side you are earning dessert! (Or burning off a hearty Florentine lunch…) Once you get to the top you will cross the street, take a small staircase and you will be in the piazza!

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Another walking option is from the Porta San Miniato. Go through the gateway and take a short but steep street to the beautiful old stone steps that will take you past the entrance to the rose garden and into the piazza.

Whichever walking route you take, make sure you keep looking behind you as the panorama of Florence comes into view! Take the other route back down when you are done, so that you can experience both.

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If the walk seems like too much (there are a ton of stairs) another option is to take the bus. From the train station you can take the number 12 or 13 bus, which you will find by the taxi stand. You will need to buy your bus ticket at the tabaccheria first.

The Hop On Hop Off bus goes to Piazzale Michelangelo too.

Not in the mood for walking or taking a bus? It is a quick taxi ride up to the piazza.