Why You Need To Know About The Beautiful Island of Procida

Everyone has heard of Naples and the Amalfi Coast but few seem to know about one of my favorite islands there, the picturesque island of Procida.

Procida is part of the Flegrean island chain in the Gulf of Naples, and sits just behind Ischia. Exquisitely beautiful and relatively untouched, Procida is one of the 10 most colorful places on earth.

Luckily the island is off the main tourist radar and hasn’t been ruined by mass tourism. It is mostly a weekend getaway for the people of Naples, which is just 40 minutes away. Many of the homes on the island belong to Napolitans. With the exception of August (Europe’s summer vacation month), for the most part if you are coming Monday through Friday the island isn’t too busy.

On January 18th 2021 the island was named Italy’s Cultural Capital for 2022.

Procida is tiny. It only measures 4 square kilometers, its longest stretch of coastline is a mere 16 kilometers long. Its highest point, Terra Murata is only 91 meters high.

Unless coming by private boat you arrive into Marina Grande, famous for its lively and vibrantly painted pastel houses. The same color scheme is visable on the opposite side of the island, with the houses painted in bright colors so fishermen can see their homes from far away.

The houses along the marina have a tall archway on the ground floor to store the family’s boat during the winter months, and an outdoor staircase gives access to the upper floor, saving interior space.

Houses along the waterfront in Procida

The main square along from the marina is home to the incredibly pretty Santa Maria della Pieta church. Built in 1624 and notable for the clock on all four sides of the tower, the lemon and white church is one of the islands most recognizable landmarks.

The little church of Santa Maria della Pieta in the marina piazza

The body of the island is made up of a web of very narrow streets. Locals come whizzing through on vespas and the occasional 3 wheeled ape. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by vibrant, pretty colors.

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Because the island is so little you can easily see a lot in one day. The walk from Marina Grande (where you arrive) to Marina Corricella on the opposite side only takes a few minutes.

Santa Maria della Grazie

The crossroads between the villages of Marina Grande, Marina Corricella and Terra Murata meet in a piazza known as the Terrace of Procida, (Semmarezio, la terrazza di Procida) also known as Martyrs Square. The terrace is anchored by another lovely yellow church, this time the baroque Santa Maria della Grazie, built back in 1679. From here you can turn left and wander up to the Terra Murata with the fortress, Palazzo d’Avalos and another church with an amazing view, Santa Margherita Nuova. Palazzo d’ Avalos was built in 1500 for the d’Avalos family who ran Procida until around 1700. In 1830 the palace became a prison, up until 1988. You can visit and take tours but need to book ahead online.

walking down to Marina Corricella from the terrazza di Procida.

Alternatively you can turn right and weave your way down the hill to he lovely little Marina Corricella, passing houses and clothes hanging out to dry along the way. Corricella is the oldest part of the island.

Marina Corricella

Marina Corricella is a working fishing marina. On the hill above you can se the fortress and at the end the church of Santa Margherita Nova. Not only is the waterfront punctuated with colorful fishing boats but you also see piles of fishing nets drying in the sun.

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Fishing nets and eateries along the marina.

This stretch of the marina is full of fabulous little eateries. The food is excellent and very inexpensive. The movie Il Postino was shot here, and you can sit out under the umbrellas and take in the views from the movie while you eat.

lunch in Marina Corricella

Portions are huge, so beware when you order. This seafood platter was an antipasti for one, but fed 3 of us. I think we paid about 10 euros.

Beaches

There are several beaches to choose from. There are a couple at the tip of Marina Grande, but you have to figure all the detritus from the ferry and the hydrofoil is also floating in that water.

Chiaia Beach

Chiaia Beach, image via Procida Review

The most popular beach is probably Chaia beach, a long sand tongue further along from Marina Corricella. You can reach it by sea or by foot. From piazza Olmo you duck down an alley and then take 186 steps to the sand, earning yourself a gelato when you get back! From the beach you can look back to Terra Murata at the other end and the marina below. There is a restaurant and a bar at the far end of the beach. You can take the C1 and C2 buses to and from Piazza Olmo

Chiaiolella and Ciraccio Beaches

Cirraccio Beach, image not my own

This is a gorgeous beach at the far end of the island, shortly before the causeway to Vivara island. It is separated by two huge tuff rocks from another beach, Spiaggia Ciraccio. Prior to a landslide they were one single long stretch of beach.

Marina Chiaiolella, Procida

Behind Chiaiolella beach is the Marina Chiaiolella. There are 3 hotels and 2 restaurants, and this is the marina used by most private craft coming in from Naples. You can use the L1 and L2 buses to get to and from Chiaiolella.

Pozzo Vecchio Beach

Il Postino beach, procida. Image via Procida Review.

Also know as Postman’s Beach or Il Postino, this is the beach used in the movie. This horseshoe shaped beach has both private and public sections, and due to its position and typography is known also to have incredibly blue water. As with Chiaiolella beach it gets non stop sunshine all day. It is on the west side of Procida and can be reached with the C1 bus.

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Must Eat In Procida:

Lingue di Procida. Image (and recipe in link) via NoChef.it

When you arrive on the island take a few minutes to stop for un caffe and una lingua di procida. These “tongue” shaped pastries are light and fluffy and are filled with a custard cream made from Procida lemons. This is definitely not to be missed! See more here at NoChef.it.

Every restaurant offers endless seafood. Everything is caught fresh that morning and I have never had anything that is less than outstanding.

Procida Lemon salad from Bar del Castello

Also not to be missed, anything made with Procida lemons. Try the fresh and light summery lemon pasta made with fresh mint, lemon zest and a little chili pepper (it’s unbelievably good!) and be sure to try the famous Procida Lemon salad pictured above. Procida lemons have a particularly thick pith under a very sheer rind. This thick white mass is known locally as lemon bread due to its texture. The salad is prepared with lemon slices that have softened in a coolwater bath before being mixed with fresh mint, garlic, pepperoncino and local olive oil. It is out of this world.

Procida is a lovely day trip from Naples and is a great place to not only escape the tourist crowds but to also absorb some authentic Italy. There are a few small hotels on the island as well as some airbnb’s, should you fall in love with the island and never want to leave! (or if you want to plan ahead and stay for a few days.) Procida is very close to Ischia, so you can combine the two islands over the course of a few days vacation.

Getting there: From the Beverello port in Naples you take the hydrofoil to Procida. It takes about 40 minutes and costs 15 euros.

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8 Exciting Places You Need To See While On The Amalfi Coast

If you are planning a trip to Campania chances are you are just thinking about Capri and the Amalfi Coast, and maybe a quick jaunt into Naples. Problem is, these are the places that everyone goes to, which means the crowds can be brain-bendingly overwhelming.

There is much, much more to see and do in Campania than just the big tourist spots. Whether you want to take a half day or day to do something different, or whether you may want to add an extra few days to your Amalfi Coast trip, here are 8 places to consider when planning your trip to the Amalfi Coast.

Be sure to read to the end as you probably haven’t heard of 6 through 8!

1. Caserta

The Palace at Caserta
The gardens and palace of Caserta

If you enjoy visiting European palaces this one is a must see. Built to rival Versailles, Caserta is the largest palace in all of Europe. Like Versailles it is a gaudy display of too much gold, over the top frescoes and somewhat crass excess, all of which make it completely fantastic!

throne room at Caserta
The Throne Room at the Palace of Caserta

Rent a bike and explore the beauty of the garden and fountains which extend 3.5 kilometers in front of the palace, have lunch in the café and explore the royal apartments.

Caserta Palace

One thing I learned while there was how fascinating Marie Carolina was. Her well known sister Marie Antoinette gets all the attention, but Marie Carolina was a tremendous character, much, much more interesting. This was her palace and her story unfolds throughout the royal apartments.

staircase caserta
The staircase leading up to the Royal apartments at the palace of Caserta

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The palace at Caserta is a quick and easy train ride from either Naples or Salerno.

2. POMPEII, HERULANEUM AND OPLONTIS

While in the area of Naples and the Amalfi Coast take a morning to visit the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and Oplontis

If you are not familiar with these incredible sites these are the ruins of three towns taken out by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The towns vanished from the face of the earth for 1700 years.

POMPEII

Pompeii

Over the centuries when people tried to find the fabled Pompeii they looked along the coast line, as it had been a port city but the eruption of the volcano moved the ocean 2 kilometers out to sea. Pompeii was discovered in the 18th century when a farmer inland had been digging for a new well.

Pompeii streets
Some of the first pedestrian streets were discovered in the ruins of Pompeii

Pompeii is Italy’s most unique archaeological site, its 109 excavated acres giving us a snapshot of 1st century Roman life.

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wealthy home in pompeii
Remains of the home of a wealthy family in ancient Pompeii

I recommend visiting in the morning at opening time (8:30am) as for much of the year Pompeii gets overwhelmingly hot. Be sure to wear good walking shoes and a hat and bring a water bottle to refil at the fountains staggered around the site.

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statue in bathhouse in Pompeii
Holding up the roof in the thermal bath house in Pompeii

I suggest doing Pompeii first as this will give you insight into the life of 1st century Romans, their social structure, the absolute genius of their technological innovations, and the devastation caused by the eruption.

Herculaneum

Herculaneum/Ercolano is only 3 stops away on the local train (the Circumvesuviana) and makes an incredible second excavation to visit.

ruins at Herculaneum
Herculaneum

After seeing the destruction of Pompeii, much of which was crushed down to one level, Herculaneum lets you experience the multi storied homes replete with their red Pompeii style frescoes. Resplendent in its own right, this site is jarring also because it gives you greater insight into the way Pompeii would have looked up until the day the volcano blew.

herculaneum frescoes

Herculaneum is about 1//3 of the size of Pompeii, and rather than being an important merchant port city was a luxury resort town for wealthy Romans, so features more elegant villas than commercial buildings.

boathouse caves at herculaneum
The boathouse/caves at Herculaneum

The caves at the beach level are filed with skeletons. When Vesuvius erupted the people of Herculaneum were certain rescuers would come by sea, so the women and children were waiting in the safety of the caves while the men waited on the beach.

skeletons at herculaneum

Unfortunately for all of them a pyroclastic current of trapped gases at a heat of more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit (and up to 900 degrees) blew their way, instantly vaporizing their bodies.

Their instant death meant they were in fact luckier than their neighbors in Pompeii who suffocated and in many cases took multiple hours to die.

OPLONTIS

From the 1st century B.C Oplontis was a super elegant suburb of Pompeii where the uber-wealthy had their country villas. As with Pompeii it disappeared for 17 centuries and was only rediscovered in the 18th century. There is just one villa is open to the public, but it is spectacular and well worth the visit.

Villa di Poppea

Villa di Poppea, Oplontis
The Villa di Poppea in Oplontis

Poppea Sabina was Emperor Nero’s second wife. This is thought to be her villa due to an amphora with the name of her freedman and a vase with her mark on it being found on the grounds.

This is actually the largest Roman suburban villa ever discovered and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, largely due to the sensational frescoes. This villa is enormous, with  large portico opening to gardens lined with statues, a swimming pool, loads of rooms, passageways and cubicle as well as a kitchen still recognizeable.

One of the most extraordinary features of the villa is the wealth of frescoes and mosaics all remaining in situ rather than having been carted off to a museum somewhere.

villa poppea frescoes
Frescoes inside Villa di Poppea

Interestingly there is no sign of life here at the time of the eruption. Some of the statues were found on a storeroom, suggesting that perhaps the villa had been closed up for renovations after the earthquake of 62 A.D

Villa Poppea, Oplontis
Villa di Poppea, Oplontis

3. Procida

An alternative to the frequently overcrowded and always expensive island of Capri is the delicious little island of Procida. Almost completely off the tourist radar this one is a weekend getaway for the people of Naples, but with the exception of August the streets are delightfully empty. So try to come here on a weekday if possible.

Procida
Procida

Procida is one of the most colorful places on earth. As you arrive into its little harbor your eyes don’t know where to land – all the fishermen’s homes lining the seafront are painted in bright pastel hues, the sunshine sparkles off the sea, which like the sky is a completely impossible shade of blue. Procida is visually stunning.

This tiny island is part of the Flegrean island chain, off the coast of Naples. The island is between Capo Miseno and Ischia, and occupies a mere 4.1 square miles. Its history dates back as far as the 16th century BC with Mycenaean objects having been discovered there, although the first known settlers were Greeks in the 8th century BC.

More than 30 movies have been filmed here including Il Postino and the Talented Mr. Ripley.

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If you take a day trip to Procida be sure to wander the waterfront and the streets of the Marina Grande, then head over to the back side of the island. Walk along sun-bleached little streets (but watch out for vespas zipping around) and head to Marina Corricella for lunch. This darling fishing village was one of the locations in Il Postino.

A variety of eateries line the waterfront, picturesque with fishing boats bobbing at their moorings, fishing nets lying out to dry and colorful buildings all around. Lunch here is authentic, inexpensive and wonderful. I recommend having a long, leisurely lunch with a view, then having a swim before heading back to the mainland.

Procida is easily accessible by hydrofoil from Naples.

4. Salerno

Another absolute treasure lies at the bottom end of the Amalfi Coast, the lovely medieval town of Salerno. Not only a wonderful place to take a day trip to, Salerno is also a tremendous place to base your Amalfi Coast trip.

historic center of salerno
historic center of Salerno

With train access (including the high speed AV trains) you can move around much more easily than if you are staying in any of the towns along the coast road, yet still have ferry access to the entire coast and Capri.

early morning in Salerno
Early morning in Salerno

The crowds, tour buses and cruise ship travelers don’t come here, (well, maybe a few small cruise ships do, but not the monsters that invade the rest of the coast)so you can wander around freely, enjoying the beauty, the history, the ambience.

If you stay in Salerno the local nightlife is infectious. Everyone comes out at night to enjoy a glass of wine and see friends in the cafes and bars dotted around the piazzas and the picturesque little streets. The restaurants are fabulous – I love evenings in Salerno.

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Along with the castle, the Duomo, the medical school (the first in Italy, it dates back centuries) and the medieval town center, another benefit to staying or visiting Salerno is that it is the gateway to the beautiful Cilento region.

5. PAESTUM

Only 30 km or so south of Salerno you will find one of the coolest and most un-touristed places you have never heard of, the Greek temples at Paestum.

The 8 best preserved Greek temples in the world are in Southern Italy. Five of them are in Sicily, the other 3 are here in the former town of Poseidonia, now known as Paestum.

2500 years ago this was part of Magna Grecia. Greece sent its young men out to discover and conquer new land. Southern Italy and Sicily were hot favorites, benefitting from amongst other things, incredible Greek architecture. Be warned that these three temples are breathtaking.

Temple Hera 2 Paestum
Temple Hera II also known as the Temple of Nettuno

I love arriving by car (you can also get here by train) because as you drive through the countryside surrounded by open fields and buffalo mozzarella farms, these 3 giant temples erupt up out of nowhere. And they are truly magnificent.

Paestum Hera 1
Temple Hera I also known as the Basilica

Built in 550 B.C, 500 B.C and 480 B.C the temples of Hera, Athena and Hera II are in unbelievably good condition.

Paestum at Sunset
Sunset in Paestum

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Also still in place are a heroon, a pool and various other structure dating back to the Greeks.

The temples are surrounded by the remnants of a Roman town. Romans loved Greek architecture so instead of pulling it down opted to build around it. Roman roads, houses and apartment buildings can still be seen here. If you have been to Pompeii and understand the layout of a Roman home, you will appreciate being able to walk inside the ruins and identify the front and back doors, the views from the homes as well as their layouts.

mosaic floors in ruins on ancient roman homes in Paestum
Mosaic floors still remain in the ruins of the Roman homes at Paestum

As if that weren’t enough, the cats eyes and mosaic floors are still intact. Not a cigarette butt, coke can or McDonald’s wrapper inn sight – it is all just here for you to enjoy.

If at all possible try to be here at sunset – it is just unbelievably beautiful. Also noteworthy are the famous roses that bloom here in the spring, famous since antiquity, bathing the temples in their gorgeous perfume and draping the area in even more beauty.

6. VELIA

If you enjoy seeing really ancient sites and are in the area, not too far south of Paestum there is another treasure, the town of Velia.

Velia, Cilento
Velia

Velia (originally named Elea) was founded around 540 B.C by Phoenicians from Corsica who fled the island after a brutal battle with the Etruscans ad Carthaginians. The town had a long period of economic prosperity as well as being an important cultural center. Home to philosophers such as Parmenides who founded the Philosophical School of Elea in the 6th century B.C, and Zeno, who was around in the 5th century B.C

The Romans took over in 88 B.C. The citizens of Elea were recognized as Romans but were allowed to maintain their Greek language and customs.

Porta Rossa, Velia
The Porta Rossa in Velia

Things to see here include the monumental Porta Rosa gate. Dating back to the 4th century B.C it is thought to be one of the only intact monuments of the ancient world. It is perfectly preserved too, cut blocks of volcanic tufa perfectly placed together without the use of lime to hold them in place, reaching a height of 6 meters. Interestingly it is the only example of a rounded arch in Greek architecture to be found in Italy.

The gate leads to an ancient road and paved steps that take you down to one of the town’s 2 ports.

In the other direction from Porta Rosa there are 2nd century Roman baths, and a lovely town square.

Greek Theater Velia
Greek Theater in Velia

The acropolis has a medieval church sitting atop a Greek temple, and just below it a small theater dating back to the 3rd century B.C.

Also to be seen here are remains of ancient homes and frescoed buildings.

7. BADIA SANTA MARIA DI PATTANO

Not far from Velia you can find the best preserved Italo-Albanian monastery in Southern Italy, the Badia Santa Maria di Pattano. Although the first known mention of this site was in a document dated to 933 A.D it is thought to be much older.

Badia Santa Maria Di Pattano
Badia Santa Maria di Pattano

The complex is noteworthy for its church of Santa Maria, an example of Angevin architecture with polygonal apses and ribbed groin vaults. The bell tower is one of the most ancient Early Middle Ages bell towers in Southern Italy. Standing 15 meters tall it may have been built in stages, because it has 5 different decorations, making it fascinating from an artistic point of view.

CHurch of San Fidelfo Badia Santa Maria di Pattano
Church of San Fidelfo Roman ruins

The Church of San Fidelfo was built on top of Roman ruins. (A thermal structure can be seen under a glass floor.)

Byzantine frescoes at Badia Santa Maria di Pattano
Byzantine fescoes in the church of San Fidelfo

The interior walls are decorated with some amazing Byzantine frescoes, in my opinion, alone they make the trip worth while.

8. THE CILENTO COAST

Cilento Coast Italy
The Cilento Coast

If you are not one for stone beaches, the crowds, high prices and overly manicured visage of the Amalfi Coast, this could be the area for you.

Cilento coast
Cilento Coast

Stretching 65 miles from Salerno to the Tyrrhenian coast of Basilicata, the Cilento coast is a beautiful alternative. With sandy beaches; pristine, clean ocean, affordable accommodation and dining options, this stretch of coast is authentic, a little erratic and the antithesis of the Amalfi Coast. Don’t expect glitzy hotels or the lamorous posturing of the uber rich, instead think of ancient port towns with the local fisherman still taking their boats out at dawn and fishing with handmade nets.

Cilento
Cilento

Break your days up with mornings spent discovering ancient Greek and Roman ruins, lunches in quaint little piazzas and afternoons on the beach.

Some of the towns to look for:

Agropoli, the largest town in the area can be a great place to base yourself.

Agropoli cilento
Agropoli

Only 15 minutes away is Castellabate. The castle ruins and the views of the ocean are fabulous, as is the main piazza. Although pretty tiny it is buzzing with cafes, a wine bar and restaurants.

castallabate cilento
Castellabate

Acciaroli is a lovely little seaside village you won’t want to leave.

Acciaroli, Cilento
Acciaroli photographed by Antonio Vaccarini

Interestingly it is known for the longevity of its inhabitants, with around 300 centenarians wandering the streets, 20 percent of whom have reached the ripe old age of 110!

Pioppi is another lovely seaside village. Ancel Keys lived here for 28 years studying and living the Mediterranean diet.

Pioppi Cilento
Pioppi

Palinuro is yet another beautiful coastal village with a rugged but spectacular coastline broken up with sandy beaches, the ruins of a medieval castle, a blue grotto – it has a lot to offer.

Palinuro, Cilento
Palinuro

Chances are you will want to run away here…

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8 cool places to see while you are in Amalfi

10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Ravello

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 Ravello
Villa 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!

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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

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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

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