After being out in the sun all day yesterday, we woke up completely wiped out. Neither one of us is used to that, so we figured after going going going all the time, we would take a morning to just sit and read in our room before heading into Amalfi and Ravello. The plan was to go to Ravello first for the afternoon and if we had time, head back Amalfi to explore.
To get to Ravello, we took a bus from Praiano and headed south. I am pretty sure the roads get even more narrow between Praiano and Amalfi and the bus drivers were insanely amazing at what they do. We finally saw one driver who had to back up to give the bus room and he ran into the cliff wall. It was the first time we have seen anyone hit anything. And when the buses pass each other … there is only room for a hair to spare!
In Amalfi we lucked out and were able to get on a bus to Ravello right away. The buses here are always crowded and this is the first time we have ever been able to actually sit on the bus. Again, crazy windy streets and at one point the bus had to back up in order to make one of the corners.
Ravello is a quaint little town on the hillside. It is less touristy than Positano, but there were still people moving about. We started off touring Villa Rufolo – a villa built in the 13th century by Nicola Rufalo as a manor farm. You can read the history of it on the website linked, but it rose and fell all within the 13th century. Time and weather eroded much of the villa, but today a portion of the villa and the gardens are still standing. There is so much history to this building and starting in *I think* the 1950s, they erected a stage off of the upper gardens that projected over the cliffs with the sea as a backdrop and each year artists perform – from music to ballet, this stage is nothing short of enchanting. We watched a video explaining all of this and some of the artists that have been here over time.
The view from Villa Rufolo looking I believe south of Amalfi.
I love all the architecture here – the columns and detailed archways that lead into somewhere new and magical.
A display showing some of the music that is played throughout the festival of music.
Impatiens, Sunpatiens, geraniums, and hydrangea covered the grounds, as well as small marigolds. The rough stone edging to the gardens themselves may inspire us to do something similar next year to edge our current gardens within our grass.
I am pretty sure this is the terrace they built the stage off of for the music festival.
There was a crazy painted door set up that messed with perspective in one of the buildings.
After our tour of Villa Rufolo, we headed into the piazza for a light lunch. The basilica there was lovely.
Once finished with our lunch, we started meandering through the smaller walking streets to head towards Villa Cimbrone to tour the gardens there. It was so much fun wandering the alleys and small streets to get to the next destination. The views of the hillsides were enchanting and I still am in awe at how they carve everything into the cliffside – then use stone to build walls, doorways, buildings. Everything.
We found a smaller church celebrating Francesco D’Assisi.
Gates leading into pockets of secrets … and cats everywhere.
Villa Cimbrone was created in the 20th century by Englishman William Beckett and it is now a five star hotel attached to the spectacular gardens. The layout definitely had an English garden feel to it with statues and hedges framing the different areas. The grounds were much larger than those in Villa Rufolo – spanning the bluff high above the sea. The most impressive part of the garden was the Terrace of Infinity.
This entrance with the stairs, potted geraniums and climbing tree is dreamy.
This is the leading look down the Avenue of Immensity that leads to the Terrace of Infinity.
The Statue of Ceres, who is the goddess of the Harvests, is at the end of the Avenue of Immensity.
And then the views from the Terrace of Infinity … words are just starting to fail me when trying to describe how richly beautiful this area is. The Terrace of Infinity showcases eighteenth century marble busts that look almost as if they guard and watch over the very beauty they are set against.
There were so many neat gardens and statues throughout Villa Cimbrone. Here is ” … a XVIIIth century bronze copy of “Hermes at rest“, a statue from the school of Lisippo on display at the national museum in Naples” (quote courtesy brochure handed out upon entry to the Villa).
Here is the Temple of Bacchus, where inside is a bronze statue of a Satyr supporting Bacchus.
Next up is a bronze Statue of David that was produced by Gioacchin Varlese.
We headed to the Rose Terrace from there and found the statues of Flora, the goddess of Flowers and Spring and Leda with Swan.
Just beyond the Rose Terrace was the Tea Room, an open pavilion where you could imagine those in the past gathering for an afternoon after wandering the gardens.
On our way out, we decided to explore the Cloister, a courtyard with alcoves sprinkled throughout and the Crypt, “…an open gallery in gothic style” where the architectural lines were breathtaking.
And then heading back into the main piazza of Ravello.
After grabbing a glass of wine at a place overlooking the sea, we decided to head back to catch the bus back to Amalfi. The buses run at irregular times and we didn’t want to get stuck up there. This time we grabbed the seats in the very front, giving us a unique view of the road and drive. Jeremy got some impressive GoPro video of it. Once in Amalfi, we realized we were still beat from yesterday and full from eating too much food, so we headed back to our room to crash for the night instead of head out for a late dinner.