The jewel of Ravello
I get off the bus, clammy and shaky, from a vertigo inducing climb up the steep and windy corniche from Amalfi to Ravello. This journey better be worth it – that ride certainly wasn’t much fun. As the town slowly reveals its charms, the first thing I notice is how quiet it is compared to, say, Positano or Sorrento. It’s July – peak season for the area – and I anticipated having to elbow my way through a red-faced throng with bumbags. But no – in their place is an edited crowd of families and stylish couples, chattering idly as they amble by. Perhaps all this peace and quiet is due to Ravello’s location, high and haughty on the hills overlooking the Bay of Salerno, or maybe it’s simply the inflated price tags in the hotels and restaurants that keeps this commune the exclusive territory of elite Southern Italians and privileged holidaymakers. It’s probably a little bit of both, but the end result is something quite special. This is the sort of place that makes you feel as though you are in on a secret. I bite my lip to stop myself from asking everyone (albeit in respectfully hushed tones), “Why aren’t there more people here?”.
The truth of the matter is, I was only vaguely aware of Ravello before reaching the Amalfi Coast. Oh sure, I heard all about the beautiful villas and gardens I should check out if I was in town, but it was very much bringing up the rear on my list of things to do. As a first time traveller to the Southern Italian seaside, I was much more interested in peoplewatching, sipping limoncello, lounging on the beach with a good read, and the occasional dip in sunkissed Mediterranean waters. Top of my list was the thought of tucking into the kind of fresh seafood that makes me gesticulate wildly whilst proclaiming “Molto bene!”. I had been liberally indulging in all those fine activities when one day, quite out of the blue, the suicidal road into the hills beckoned. After I made the trip, none of those other local pleasures (considerable though they may be) quite measured up to the afternoon I spent in Ravello, and in particular, my visit to the historic villa slap bang in the centre of town…
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