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!

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

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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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10 Things To Do On The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast has to be one of the most beautiful, most chic, most fabulous stretches of coastline in Europe. Winding it’s way from Positano to Salerno, the Amalfi Coast is a wonderland of things to see and do, from taking in it’s aching beauty, to exploring ancient villages, dining like kings, relaxing like heiresses and generally feeling like a jet-setter.

 

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Here are 10 of my favorite things to do on the Amalfi Coast.

1. Drive it!

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Drive the Amalfi Coast road



Rent a stick shift/manual transmission car (they are far more fun to drive), pull the side mirrors in, and take yourself for a drive along one of the most beautiful coast roads in the world.
Driving the Amalfi Coast road is both fun and breathtaking, partially due to the incredible scenery and partially due to the narrow, high, winding road and the buses that come hurtling along it! You need to keep your mirrors in as you will find yourself closer than you had ever planned to be to the rock wall on one side, and the oncoming bus on the other. But what a magnificent drive it is! Don’t worry if you can’t drive a stick shift – you will hardly ever get beyond 2nd gear anyway. Traffic rolls slowly, which isn’t such a bad thing when the views are this spectacular!

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2. Enjoy A Glass Of Wine At Il San Pietro di Positano.

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Mediterranean Terrace, Hotel San Pietro Positano





Sitting on the Mediterranean Terrace of the Hotel Il San Pietro di Positano late in the afternoon with a glass of wine has to be the closest you can get to being in heaven itself.
Considered to be one of the very best 5 Star hotels in the world, Il San Pietro is also one of the most beautiful. The views from the Mediterranean terrace are beyond spectacular, and include the island of Capri and the most famous view of Positano.
Everything about this place is magic, and is absolutely not to be missed!
Read more about the Hotel Il San Pietro Di Positano in my blogpost here
Book a room at the San Pietro here

3. Take A Hike.

Not at all difficult, but completely awe inspiring views, the Sentiero Degli Dei (Pathway of the Gods) is an unforgettable experience.

 

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The pathway links the town of Agerola with Nocelle in Positano.
You can access it by bus at Agerola (get off at the Bomerano stop), or if you are in the mood for stair climbing you can start at Praiano and climb  along flight of stairs up 580 meters above sea level to the Colle Serra Pass. (I’d rather die). From there you walk through the heavens, taking in views that defy belief. Chances are you will encounter grazing sheep and goats along the way.
When you reach Nocelle you can either take the bus down, or walk down the 1500 stairs to the Arienzo neighborhood. If it’s summer time take another 300 stairs down to the beach for a swim.
In ancient times Nocelle was only reachable by foot, climbing the stairs from Positano.
If you start at Agerola the hike will take you around 4 hours.

 

4. Buy Ceramics At LizArt in Praiano.

Liz-Art-Praiano



A few years ago my bestie and I rented an apartment above the Liz Art ceramics store in Praiano (Via Roma 42). It was wonderful. Every day when we came home we would sit at the giant table in the ceramics store with Anna (the owner) and Laura (who worked there) and various local ladies, and they would ask us all about our day. The ladies would bring us bowls of fruit from their gardens to have in our apartment, including lemons and local fruit nespole. I loved walking around the store, and before we left we each bought several pieces of ceramics, handmade by Anna’s family. I still absolutely treasure them.
I will be back on the Amalfi Coast in a couple of weeks, and hopefully will be able to see the ladies again, and buy more ceramics. They ship everything to your home, so you don’t need to worry about traveling with breakables.
Check out their website here

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5. Take A Boat Trip Along The Coast.

Ferries and hydrofoils run the length of the Amalfi Coast. One of the loveliest ways to experience the coast is by boat, so stretch out in the sun and enjoy the unfettered views from the water. You can also take a chartered boat tour along the coast, for a full day or a half day tour.

6. Explore Beautiful Salerno.

Salerno is one of the Amalfi Coast’s best kept secrets.
Situated at the opposite end of the coast from Positano, you can either drive or take a ferry. After the tourist mayhem of Capri and the rest of the coast, secret Salerno is a welcome respite. You can breathe in the sea air all to yourself as you stroll the loveliest beach promenade on the Amalfi Coast, enjoy fantastic restaurants and wine bars without huge crowds, stroll through medieval streets, taking in the history, photographing anything you want without endless tourists getting in the way.

 

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Sunday afternoon in the old town of Salerno

The cathedral in Salerno, San Matteo, was built in 1085. Mostly destroyed by American bombs during World War II, parts of the cathedral have been rebuilt, and parts of the original still stand. The crypt holds St Matthew’s bones, and is well worth the trip to see it.

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7. Take A Day Trip to Capri

You really just have to.
Plan on spending a couple of minutes in the main piazza, then head out in any direction as fast as you can to escape the tourist crush.
Make sure you go see my old friend Aldo Lella and his lovely little wife Lydia at their sandal shop, Schettino. Aldo made sandals for Jackie O, so when I first met him I had him make them for me too!
Please tell Aldo and Lydia you read about them in my blog – they get a huge kick out of it, and they actually keep copies of receipts from my blog readers so that they can show me every couple of years when I drop in for a visit!
Aldo is 92 this year, and chances are he may not be there if you wait too many years to go see them. I’ve written about them before here: Buying Sandals In Capri
I also have a post on What To Do In Capri, which covers my 8 favorite things to do while I’m on the island.

8. Visit Ravello

The drive up the hill to Ravello is a little on the hair-raising side, but is immediately forgotten when you reach this lovely little hilltop town.

 

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Villa Rufolo Ravello

Take in an evening concert under the stars at the Villa Rufolo during the world famous music festival that takes place from April to October. Walk around the Villa Cimbrone,

 

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Villa Cimbrone Ravello

then have a glass of wine at the wonderful Hotel Caruso and look out at the world from their infinity pool in the sky.
The Caruso in Ravello is a divine place to stay on the Amalfi Coast, super chic and luxe. See the Hotel Caruso Ravello here

9. Visit The Grotto Dello Smeraldo, Positano.

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Grotto Dello Smeraldo, Positano



Everyone has heard of the Blue Grotto in Capri, but most have never been to the Emerald Grotto outside of Positano. It wasn’t discovered until 1932, kept secret by not having a natural outlet above the waterline. From the Amalfi Coast road you walk down to sea level where you take a boat and go inside this amazing emerald colored sea cave.

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10. Dinner At Villa Gabrisa In Positano

I always make sure that I go to the restaurant at the Hotel Villa Gabrisa in Positano,  no matter where I am staying on the Amalfi Coast.
Sit outside and take in the view of Positano by night as you enjoy one of the best meals of your life, or enjoy the ambience inside their small dining room – either way it’s an absolute win, and an evening you will remember forever.

 

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private terrace at the Hotel Villa Gabrisa in Positano

The hotel itself is a luscious little boutique hotel that oozes romance. The rooms have very sizeable private terraces that look out over the ocean, and make the perfect place for an end of evening limoncello, or your early morning coffee.
It is absolutely divine. Check out the Hotel Villa Gabrisa here

 

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