Even though I have been fortunate enough to travel to far-reaching destinations across the globe, there is one place that is dear to my heart. Not only is Ravello on Italy’s Amalfi coast a stunning and charming area, but it’s also where I got married…
Our Ravello Wedding…
We chose to get married in Ravello having spent a week there previously. It stole our hearts – and after seeing a couple walking through Ravello’s main square, we knew straight away we wanted to experience the same. It would be fitting at this point to mention Mario at Wagner Tours. He was our wedding planner and did an amazing job of organising everything from the big day, from flowers to the food; to the transfers and accommodation for all our wedding guests. He is the font of all Ravello knowledge, knows all the things to do in Ravello, and everyone in the area. Mario will also be able to source you the best deals and can cater for all types of budgets.
Ravello Amalfi – the perfect combo
We went to Ravello on a recommendation, and it was an easy decision as we have always been big fans of Italy. What’s not to love? The landscape, history, food and wine are a massive draw and, after flying into Naples, and a hair-raising journey on the country’s infamous hairpin roads via a private taxi transfer (it takes around two hours by car from Naples to Ravello), we were blown away when we reached this charming resort, nestled high above the coastline.
Ravello Holidays – a great base to explore the Amalfi Coast
This peaceful part of the Neapolitan Riveria has the most stunning views of the Mediterranean below, is less crowded than other towns along the coast, and we’ve always found it a fantastic base to explore the rest of the region. It’s easy to do Ravello travel, there are great buses linking each of the towns. There’s so much to see and do along the Riveria – Capri, Positano and Sorrento, are just some of the resorts that deserve a special nod – and your time.
The main square in Ravello is buzzing with the most action, as the town is so small, you’re able to explore on foot. It’s the home of the Duomo (cathedral) and is surrounded by various cafés and restaurants – more of which I discuss below as well as some Ravello tips.
Ravello doesn’t have much in the way of nightlife compared to its neighbour Amalfi (which is only a 10-minute car journey) but don’t let that put you off. Ravello is home to some of the most amazing restaurants – and there are some fabulous cocktail bars, too. You’ll never have a problem finding a bar/café that serves fantastic coffee and limoncello!
Things To Do in Ravello
Here are just a selection, and don’t worry that I haven’t included any addresses. One turn around Ravello and I promise you will come across all the ones I have mentioned without so much as a bead of sweat dripping across your brow… Here are some suggestions of what to do in Ravello.
This castle-like villa inspired Wagner to write Klingsor’s Garden in Parsifal. Its breathtaking panoramic views are the main attraction, as are its enchanting gardens. The villa was built in the 13th century and was home to several popes as well as King Robert of Anjou. Today the gardens are used for Ravello concerts during the Ravello’s classical music festival.
This was actually our first choice wedding-day venue but because it’s now a hotel and restaurant, it was impossible for us to have the whole place to ourselves – the cost would have been astronomical. Villa Cimbrone’s history dates back from 11th Century AD, and having been owned by various wealthy, noble families, it even became part of a monastery. Its grounds and gardens are breathtaking, and The Belvedere or Terrace Infinity is a must-see. It’s one of our most cherished spots in Ravello, I could spend hours here. When we return for our next trip, we have promised ourselves that we will be staying at the hotel for a few days at least and enjoy the wonderful surroundings it has to offer.
Villa La Rondinaia or Swallow’s Nest
Not open to the public, we were extremely lucky to be invited by local hotelier Vincenzo Palumbo (who also owns Villa Eva, our wedding venue) to have a private tour of Swallow’s Nest – the former home of prolific American writer Gore Vidal, who holidayed with the likes of Greta Garbo at his Italian abode. It sits on the same headland as Villa Cimbrone and, at the time of our tour, Gore Vidal’s possessions were still his writing room, albeit a bit dusty.
It was a real privilege to walk around the house and its grounds. Mr Palumbo told us he wanted to turn it into a hotel. But as yet, his plans still haven’t come into fruition… Ravello is a small town, and everyone knows everyone! If you are desperate to see Swallow’s Nest and bask in its famous history, you’d only have to ask for Mr Palumbo’s whereabouts (he was sweeping the floor outside our hotel when we bumped into him) and I am pretty sure, he’d only be too happy to get out his big key and give you a private viewing…
Best restaurants in Ravello
The food in Ravello is outstanding. And while there are many high-end Ravello restaurants, you can also grab a hearty meal for a reasonable price. Here are some of our favourite places to eat in Ravello:
Palazzo Avino and Rossellinis
The Palazzo Avino (formerly Palazzo Sasso) hotel is one of those buildings that exudes glamour, tradition and sophistication all in one. It has uninterrupted views, and amazing terrace and swimming area, and has an outstanding reputation as one of the best 5-star hotels in the area.
We have yet had the pleasure of staying here, but we have had dinner at their two-Michelin starred restaurant Rossellinis. No, it isn’t cheap, and yes, the food was divine – but you pay for what you get – attentive service in the most romantic setting, overlooking the village of Minori. Now, this is one of the best restaurants in Ravello with a view.
If you want authentic Italian cooking – pizzas and pasta – then look no further than Cumpa’ Cosimo. This family-run trattoria is really popular and the food is wholesome and tasty. We’ve been here quite a few times and always enjoyed ourselves. The star attraction being ‘Mamma’ who runs the restaurant with an iron-fist and wears a plethora of colourful aprons. There’s always drama when you ask for the bill because depending on what mood Mamma is in, she’ll just add it up in her head and write it down on a napkin! I’m sure there’s a method to her madness, although I don’t think we’ve ever paid the same price.
Bar Il Panino
Located in Ravello’s main square, this little place serves the best paninis. Try the bresaola and mozzarella toasties.
Wine ‘e Notte
This cocktail/wine bar was a big feature during our wedding weekend… I think the wedding party basically funded it for three nights! My favourite was the wasabi apple martini. Try it, it will literally send you in a spin… and is delicious to boot.
Mamma Agata’s cooking school
If any of you are MasterChef fans, this is one of the places the finalists visited back in 2013. Mamma Agata’s traditional Italian cooking is revered across Italy and beyond. She and her family open up their private kitchen and to teach small groups some of her best recipes. And, the great thing is, you get to eat it in their beautiful gardens afterwards. I have always wanted to do this and will be booking my spot on our return.
Where To Stay in Ravello
If you’re staying in Ravello, you will not have a problem finding hotels/apartments to stay in Ravello. And, while a lot of the big five-star hotels are very pricey, there are other, more reasonable, alternatives. It’s just knowing where to look and who to ask!
• Tui offers the centrally located Apartments La Caserella. We stayed here on our first trip to Ravello. It offered decent, clean accommodation, a private pool and is close to all the action. It also had fantastic views. From £499 for a week.
• We also stayed at Villa Maria Hotel. It is a quaint, villa-liberty style hotel with traditional decor and rooms. There is also a lovely terrace that overlooks the sea. From £162 per night.
• For a full list of Ravello accommodation options search here.
Best of the rest in the Amalfi coast…
• If you have the time, it’s worth visiting Pompeii and spending the day exploring the ruins of this ancient Roman town, which was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a very popular tourist attraction. However, don’t let the crowds put you off from going to see, first-hand, how the Romans lived – from their streets, to their toilets. It’s hugely fascinating and a part of history literally frozen in time…
• Take a boat to the Faraglioni, off Capri’s shore, to look for the lucertola azzurra, or blue lizard. Known for scales as blue as the Capri sea, the lizards are only found here. Kids will love this!
Next up, a family holiday to the Amalfi Coast…
We are so looking forward to taking the kids back with us and explaining to him why Ravello and Amalfi Coast is such a special place – and enjoy a family holiday to Ravello. There is so much for children to see and do in this part of Italy – boat rides, enjoying the sunshine and sea life; and swimming in the pool. Throw in lashings of gelato and pizza. What’s not to like? Plus the Italians love children.
With low-cost airlines flying daily to Naples, it’s easily accessible and if you plan ahead, not too hard on the pocket. Although I’m not going to lie, once you’re out there, it isn’t the cheapest of destinations. But well worth it. Even though we’ve been lucky enough to visit on two occasions, we’ve only scratched the surface of this amazing Italian gem, so all the more reason for us to return to Ravello.
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