Perched at 365 meters above the Mediterranean sea just above Amalfi, Ravello is a perfect day trip (or even half a day) from the Amalfi Coast, offering awesome views over the sea, lushy gardens, villas, delicious limoncello and quite a lot of boutiques and artisans’ shops to satisfy your souvenirs’ needs. It is a quite an upscale place, not so much as Positano and Capri, but still one where you can go to be seen and boast your prettiest dress and sharpest suit.
I’ve recently been there for a day excursion from Amalfi and noticed not that many tourist going up the mountain to Ravello. Strangely. Because there are a lot of reasons to spend one day in Ravello.
How to get to Ravello
First of all, practicalities. Being on a mountain, it’s not possible to reach Ravello by a boat trip as for Amalfi or Positano. You have to go to Amalfi harbour, where next to the pier there are all the buses waiting to depart for the towns around. One from there will be the 5110, doing the path from Amalfi to Ravello and then Scala (a town a little farther) and back every half an hour each day. You can check the timetable on the Sita Sud website.
Being Italy, don’t bet your life on the punctuality of any bus. Just check when approximately the bus should leave and be there 10 minutes before it and hope for the best. In any case for 1,1€ you can be in Ravello in about 20 minutes, traffic permitting, through a quite panoramic road too.
What to see in Ravello
The bus will leave you just before a tunnel leading to the main square of Ravello, where there’s the little cathedral, a few cafés and the access to the main attraction of the town, Villa Rufolo. This medieval villa was built by the namesake family, the most powerful in the Ravello area at the time. They went into decline shortly thereafter but the Villa remained a place filled with art and visited by great artists throughout its life, like Boccaccio and Richard Wagner. Nowadays it is composed of a proper villa in an eclectic arab-mediterranean style, with some remains of the older romanic times, and well kept gardens all around it, with flowers and trees providing shadow and beauty to the visitors.
Nowadays the Villa hosts classical and jazz concerts, exhibitions, and cinema-related events. Throughout your visit you will be accompanied by classical music playing in all the areas of the Villa, which I found an awesome touch, well fitting the atmosphere of Ravello.
I’d suggest you to take a few pictures from the balconies of the Villa, overlooking the sea, and then from the lower gardens, which are on a lower height but closer to the sea. If you’re looking for a postcard picture from your trip on the Amalfi Coast, Villa Rufolo in Ravello will provide it.
Before its entrance, just to the left of it there’s a partly covered path leading down and then back north to the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium, which is an architecture’s gem of the area from the renowned brazilian architect. It’s not a big building and it’s very modern-looking, somewhat contrasting with the rest of Ravello. It fits the mood of the town though, being all about arts, especially music and cinema. It’s unlike any other attraction on the Amalfi Coast and even in the whole Campania region so it’s worth taking the walk up to it.
On the southern side, closer to the sea, of Ravello there’s a great view to be had ad the so called “Infinity Terrace“, or Terrazza Dell’Infinito in italian. It’s mostly like the more famous Villa Rufolo but smaller and comprised of just gardens with a great view over the sea. Being closer to it the view is better than at the Villa but there’s much less art and architecture to admire. It is not free to enter so if you have only a short time, opt to visit just the Villa instead. That’s what I personally did, and am not regretting skipping the Terrace.
What to buy in Ravello
Well, obviously the classic ceramics and limoncello are the obvious choices. You will find plenty of little shops from the main square going south. Most of their offerings will be indeed ceramics and objects made out of it yet you can find also objects made with cork, leather and great summer bags in cotton, with a very 60-70s style. A few boutiques sell dresses for women and shirts for men of great quality. If they’re within your budget, they’re a great gift to bring back home.
Limoncello and lemon-based products like perfumes and soap reign and are present pretty much anywhere around Ravello. Yet I’d suggest you to try also orange-based drinks and the local wines. A red Aglianico, a white Falanghina or a Lacryma Christi are safe bets to order.
Ravello shouldn’t be neglected
I know that Positano and Amalfi take the most time and attention of mass tourism, and probably it is good for Ravello to not receive the same amount of visitors. But it is a lovely town, with a lovely atmosphere between the chic and the rural that is so close to the Amalfi Coast that it would be a shame to not take a short detour to visit it. Ravello has enough to keep you busy for half a day at the very least. Being less crowded can provide a respite from the hustle and bustle of the main coast (which sometimes reminds me of Santorini in this).
Have you been to Ravello? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments!