Campania Adventure Day 5: Ravello and Amalfi

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We left Positano by high-speed ferry boat, which whisked us to Amalfi in about 20 minutes.  After arriving in Amalfi, the son of our Airbnb host in Ravello, located us near the ferry docks and drove us up a winding road to our lodgings for the next two nights, an old paper mill in mountainous area between Atrani and Ravello.  The walls of the building were covered with ivy.  The mill is nestled in a valley, walled in by verdant hills, terraced with lemon groves.

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That evening we decided to walk the pathway down the valley to Atrani and Amalfi.

Amalfi wasn’t quite as posh as Positano and when you follow the city back toward the Paper Mill Museum, it definitely feels more local and less touristy.  The Duomo di Amalfi is intriguing and worth a visit.

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Supposedly Amalfi was significant enough at one time to obtain relics of Saint Andrew.  We had a rather forgettable dinner in Amalfi and then took the bus back up to our Airbnb and turned in for the evening.

We started the next day with breakfast from our hosts and then walked up the stairway to Ravello.  After the Arienzo staircase to the Path of the Gods, the stairway to Ravello did not seem difficult at all.  We made our way along a beautiful bucolic path up to the charming and fragrant town of Ravello.

Once we reached the top of the mountain, we found our way into the town, browsed at a ceramics shop and then went to the main square where there was an overlook with a view across the valley.  Spring flowers were blooming everywhere.

Ravello has two villas worth exploring.  We started at the Villa Rufolo, admired its marvelous terraced gardens, historic buildings, and views of the famous umbrella pine framed by a bright blue sky and deeper blue ocean.

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It was a warm, sunny day with light haze.  The azure sky melded with the azure sea in a union of bright blue. The air was redolent with flowers and hummed with the buzzing of bees. Off in the distant hills, you could see other large villas.  I had hoped to catch a glimpse of the Villa La Rondinaia, once the home of author Gore Vidal.  The villa had recently been used as a filming location for a Vidal biopic; however, Netflix has shelved the project due to the scandal surrounding the actor who was to play the famous writer.  Interestingly, I had just finished reading Burr and Vidal sets the last chapter of that book along the Amalfi Coast, having his narrator struggle to describe the blue of the ocean without sounding too trite.

We then walked a little further to the Villa Cimbrone, larger grounds than the Villa Rufolo.  Del preferred the gardens at the Villa Rufolo, but I really enjoyed the sky terrace and statutes at the Villa Cimbrone as well as the promenades that offered stunning views of the lemon groves and terraced landscapes in the valley below.  Interesting statues are installed at various points throughout the gardens.  I was especially intrigued by the Villa Cimbrone’s connections with famous literary figures, such as members of the Bloomsbury Group, who held meetings in one of the plazas of the villa.

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Ravello has attracted a number of gay writers throughout its history including Andre Gide, E.M. Forster, and, more recently Gore Vidal.  D.H. Lawrence also spent time here.  The beauty of Ravello is certainly enough to inspire someone to write.  I truly felt enchanted by it and hope I’ll be able to make a return trip one day.

In the afternoon, we walked back down the path that we had followed the previous day to Atrani and this time took an underground tunnel into Amalfi.  We explored some of the shops of the city, toured the cathedral and also visited the Museo Della Carta, a museum dedicated to the history of paper manufacture.  It was interesting learning how paper had been made in the past and about the significance that Amalfi formerly had in the paper industry as well as its maritime empire. Several abandoned paper mills can be found along the streams between Amalfi and Ravello.

We finished our day with one last delizia al limone at a cafe on the main square and rode the bus back up to our lodgings.

Ravello and Amalfi were a pleasant finish to our exploration of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.

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