Thinking about our holidays it’s the unexpected things that create lovely lasting memories. The things that go unexpectedly wrong probably also create lasting memories, but none of those on our Amalfi Coast holiday thank goodness. We hadn’t expected to find ourselves at a concert – part of the 2013 Ravello Festival – listening to a dynamic performer called Tosca singing, accompanied by a superb musical quintet of guitar, cello, double bass and two mandolins. In fact when we had walked up to Ravello a few days earlier and seen the publicity posters for the festival we thought we were buying tickets for a concert of arias from the opera Tosca – our best guess from the pictures on the publicity posters and our 6-word limited repertoire of Italian. We were not at all disappointed; the concert was wonderful and proved you don’t have to understand a word of the lyrics to appreciate beautiful music. As well as the performance itself, the setting was sublime – an open air theatre on the garden terrace at Villa Rufolo high up on the hillside with a view along the coastline as far as your eyes could see. Oh so romantic.
In my no-nonsense, practical opinion Ravello claims some of the most romantic spots on the whole of the AmalfiCoast. As well as Villa Rufolo there is Villa Cimbrone where the magnificent view from the Terrace of Infinity really does make you swoon as the vista drops steeply down to the sea from the terraced garden high up atop the cliff.
Just wandering through the village itself there is beauty everywhere; the buildings, the meandering paths and lanes, the gardens, the colours of the flowers and pottery art etc.
Even the walk to Ravello from Atrani (a hot sweaty 40-minute climb) has a kind of natural romantic ambiance as you walk up and along worn hillside paths past olive groves, lemon groves and lanes of wooden trellis draped with green vines and ripening grapes. Perhaps the heat affects you too.
However, I’m not the only one over the years who has thought this a romantic place…
♥ Greta Garbo escaped to Villa Cimbrone with her lover in 1938 for a respite from Hollywood.
♥ D H Lawrence was in the throes of writing Lady Chatterley’s Lover when he stayed in Ravello (and look how that book turned out!)
♥ The garden setting at Villa Rufolo was apparently the inspiration for Richard Wagner’s enchanted garden of Klingsor in his opera Parsifal.
If I have the chance to go back to the Amalfi Coast I would love to book in to Mama Agata’s cooking school. On our walk up to Ravello we walked past the family’s cooking school located in a fabulous position on the hillside surrounded by gardens and looking out to the Mediterranean. I was told the school was not running in August as the family is busy harvesting tomatoes and preparing their famous tomato products like salsa di pomodoro. One of the local pottery shops was selling Mama Agata’s recipe book on her behalf so I bought a copy. As the saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” and Ravello covers the practical aspect of romance too.