Everywhere you go on the Amalfi Coast you are surrounded by beauty. Unfortunately you are often also surrounded by crowds. Not so in Ravello, a town located on the cliffs above Amalfi. In Ravello you not only find some of the most beautiful views in the world, but the lack of crowds (even in summer) was a delightful surprise. If you are wondering what to do in Ravello — it is all about enjoying the beauty and soaking it in. Beauty in the views, in the gardens, in the people, and in the food.
A few years ago we stayed in Positano and I had planned on taking the ferry over to Amalfi and Ravello. That plan never came to fruition. We were too tired from five days in Rome to plan another day trip and ended up spending all our time on the beach.
This year when we were once again spending five days on Capri, an island off the Amalfi Coast, I was determined this time to make it to Amalfi and Ravello. So we took the ferry over for the day to explore. Amalfi was a huge disappointment. It was so very crowded and incredibly touristy with the cheesiest of shops. However, Ravello was a true delight. It was exactly what I had hoped for and beyond.
I love Positano despite the crowds, and the same with Capri. But Ravello is extra special. Maybe it was just that Glenn and I really needed some alone time and we found it in the beautiful setting of Ravello. But I truly fell in love with everything about the town. If there is an ugly part, we didn’t find it. The worst I can say is that getting there is not so fun.
How to get to Ravello
There are a few ways to get to Ravello. If you are staying on the Amalfi Coast and renting a car, you could always drive. Of course, I think you have to be a little crazy to drive on the Amalfi Coast and parking is no easy feat. Those staying on the mainland can also take the bus. Just keep in mind that the busses get overcrowded and can often be standing room only. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to be standing while winding along those narrow roads, the cliff’s edge just inches from the side of the road.
The final alternative is to take a ferry to Amalfi and then catch a cab, bus, or even hike, up to Ravello from there. Keep in mind that ferries often hop down the coast. So you may or may not find a direct ferry (so make sure you get off at the right port.) When standing at the pier, you can see on the back of the boat where the boat is headed and the time of departure.
A cab from Amalfi will cost 45-50 euro each way and the ride takes approximately 25 minutes. It is not cheap, but in my mind it was worth it for a more comfortable ride. Even if you decide to walk down from Ravello, it takes a very energetic and fit visitor to climb from Amalfi up to Ravello. Cabs are available in the port area in Amalfi, just across from the pier. When you want to return from Ravello down to Amalfi, walk outside the city gate near Villa Rufolo and you will find a cab stand. If you are catching a ferry, be sure to give yourself plenty of time because they control traffic on the road from Amalfi to Ravello and in sections, hold traffic to allow only one direction go at a time. This can add some extra time to your trip.
What to do in Ravello Italy
There are two major attractions in Ravello, the gardens at both Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. The town is pedestrian only so you will be dropped off just outside of one of the city gates. From there, it is only a couple of minutes walk to Villa Rufolo and perhaps 10 minutes walking to Villa Cimbrone. I would recommend starting at Villa Cimbrone and then backtracking through town from there. The route is easily marked with signs throughout town to both attractions.
Villa Cimbrone is both a hotel and restaurant, as well as a very popular wedding venue. However, it is most known for its gardens and breathtaking views. The gardens are open to the public with a seven euro entrance fee per person. There are many paths through the gardens but you will want to head straight ahead to the famous Infinity Terrace. No need to save the best for last!
The Infinity Terrace is aptly named, as the views stretch on and on, above the haze that blankets the coast below. From here, you can see the terraced fields below, the ships in the harbor, and the curve of the Amalfi Coast.
We were stunned that we were able to spend at least 10 minutes taking pictures of the terrace from every angle, while only encountering two other people.
After enjoying the Terrace to the fullest, we stopped by the tea room underneath the terrace and enjoyed a cold beer on the lawn overlooking the mountains.
It only takes about 30 minutes to walk through the gardens, but I would give yourself at least an hour or two as there is no need to rush your enjoyment of such a beautiful place.
Lunch at Villa Maria
After you leave Villa Cimbrone and start walking back to town, you will pass Villa Maria. Villa Maria is a small hotel and restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor terrace offering amazing views. The restaurant has it own organic kitchen garden, which they harvest daily to feature on the menu.
If you want more than a delicious meal with a view, you can also arrange a cooking class here. Just be aware that the pizza slices are large, thick slices of a Silician-style dough. I enjoyed the grilled cheese in lemon leaves with fresh grilled vegetables, which was delicious and also a generous portion.
After delicious meal, you will appreciate the walk back through town to Villa Rufolo. If you are visiting with younger kids, you may want to skip Villa Rufolo and just focus on Villa Cimbrone. The gardens and grounds of Villa Rufolo are not nearly as expansive as those at Villa Cimbrone. However, it may appeal more to history buffs that want to explore the crumbling ruins of the villa.
The main attraction at Villa Rufolo is what makes Ravello famous, the Ravello Festival of music. Imagine sitting and enjoying an evening of music while drinking in these views of the Mediterranean.
Before you leave town, spend some time enjoying the town square and the shops nearby. The piazza is where the locals gather. The older couples sitting on the benches in the shade, while young children kick around a soccer ball in the square.
The piazza offers beautiful mountain and sea views. Just across the square you will find the Ravello Cathedral. Ravello’s Cathedral was built in the 11th century in a combination of Baroque and Romanesque styles. It is worth a quick visit, even if just for a peek at the bronze door.
There are also many quality shops offering locally made ceramics, linen clothing, handbags and more. I would recommend the canvas printed bags in The Zahir di Micol Schiavo, which are a unique souvenir to remember your visit.
I hope that you get to enjoy the beauty of Ravello. Have you already visited? I’d love to hear about your favorite parts in the comments below.
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