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Holidays in Ravello take you to one of the most stunning locations in Italy, overlooking the spectacular Amalfi Coast, between the towns of Minori and Amalfi itself. Ravello is built on a series of terraces above steep cliffs that plunge down towards the sea, with narrow streets gradually winding their way up towards Piazza Duomo, where the town’s 900 year old cathedral commands the square. It’s a charming spot that has been attracting the rich and famous for decades – artists, writers and film stars have all been captivated by Ravello’s charms, adding a splash of glamour to this rustic little place.
Explore Ravello’s rich history, with several medieval noblemen making their homes here. Their legacy remains in buildings like Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. Both were later bought by wealthy British visitors and are now popular attractions because of their elegant architecture, ornamental gardens and incredible views. For relaxed days of wandering, Ravello’s streets and squares are peppered with cafés and restaurants, as well as craft shops selling the hand-made ceramics that this area is famous for.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ravello holidays can be a big tourist attraction during the peak summer season, but many visitors are day trippers and the town can be very tranquil once they’ve left in the evenings. Spring is a quieter time to come here, when the fragrant smell of lemon blossom wafts across the whole town and the surrounding hillsides are full of lemon trees, which is reflected in the local cuisine.
Whatever time of year you visit, exploring Ravello’s romantic lanes and alleys puts you in the footsteps of movie stars like Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart, and writers like Tennessee Williams and Virginia Woolf. In the 1920s DH Lawrence wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover while staying in Ravello, and even Winston Churchill came here to relax after the war. Piazza Duomo, where several cafés overlook the square, is a great place to watch the world go by and let your imagination take over – maybe Salvador Dali or Graham Greene once sat in your very spot, looking for inspiration.
The medieval mansions of Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone are two of the most popular attractions in Ravello, and you’ll understand why when you visit either of them. Villa Rufolo stands just across the street from the cathedral, and the main building houses a small museum explaining the history of the place. But the main draw is the garden outside, with ornate landscaped terraces and romantic little corners offering some jaw dropping views along the coast.
A few minutes’ walk to the south of the cathedral is Villa Cimbrone, which is now a private luxury hotel with several acres of formal gardens that are open to the public. The shady paths, lawns and flower beds lead to a clifftop viewing platform at the edge of a 300-metre drop – the Terrace of Infinity – which was described by the American writer Gore Vidal as “the most beautiful view in the world”.
The closest airport to Ravello is Naples (NAP), which is approximately 1 hour 45 minutes from Ravello. Direct flights to Naples airport (NAP) are available from Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle and take approximately 2 hours 45 minutes.
Ravello is a summer destination with the season generally running from April to October, although some hotels are open in March. Early or late summer is the best time to explore this mountain town with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Many people visit for Ravello's famous festival, which runs from June to September.
The area around Ravello is perfect for growing lemons, and the locals make good use of their abundant citrus fruit. The sweet liquor, limoncello, is a speciality that many people make at home, and it will often appear at your table as an after-dinner digestivo. They also cook with lemons – try ravioli sprinkled with grated lemon zest, accompanied by mozzarella that’s been grilled between lemon leaves. And to finish? Lemon cake, lemon pie and lemon mousse feature on most menus.
The Amalfi Coast is a paradise for seafood lovers, with an astonishing variety of fish and crustaceans served up fresh in the local restaurants. The octopus, anchovies and sea urchins are second to none, and most eateries offer their own version of scialatielli ai frutti di mare, a seafood pasta dish that’s popular in Ravello and all along the coast. In many eateries the day’s menu is dictated by what came off the fishing boats that morning.
This region is also the home of Mozzarella, and if you try it at one of Ravello’s restaurants it most likely came from a small farm nearby. The locals will tell you never to put Mozzarella in the fridge, just buy it fresh and eat it the same day. You can wash it down with a glass of wine from Ravello itself – the town has its own Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), recognising the quality and uniqueness of its home grown tipples.
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