Ravello – Campania, Italy
Where Poets Go to Die
Perched 1,100 feet above the tiny coastal town of Amalfi, Ravello has been described as closer to heaven than to the sea. Two irresistibly romantic gardens—the Villa Rufolo and the Villa Cimbrone—justify its reputation as “the place where poets go to die.”
Hotel guests can hope to experience breathtaking views of the cerulean sea from the Moorish-inspired Palazzo Sasso. Constructed in the 12th century, now a deluxe hotel, Sasso is all about the view.
Richard Wagner found inspiration on this site in 1880, penning a part of Parsifal during a stay here. (Every summer an internationally renowned classical Wagner music festival takes place in the gardens of the Villa Rufolo.)
This clifftop aerie looks east along the dramatic Lattari Mountains and their wild, contoured coastline toward Salerno, filling guest rooms and guests’ hearts with warm sun and high romance. Its recent transformation into a modern-day hideaway left the spirit of the medieval structure unspoiled. Nine terraced acres of bougainvillea, roses, and mimosas fan out below the pink palazzo (sometimes overlooked by those hypnotized by the blending of the clear cobalt sky and sea beyond).
Follow the aroma of simmering tomato sauce and roast lamb that lead you to Cumpa Cosimo, the town’s best trattoria. When most foreigners think of good, full-flavored Italian food, they think of Neapolitan cuisine, and that is what you’ll find here.
Ingredients grown in the rich volcanic soil around Naples, honest wines, and the deft hands of Netta Bottone (daughter of the original founder, Cosimo) make any meal here delicious. There is usually a marathon sampling of seven different pastas.
Day-trippers don’t often hang around Ravello for dinner, leaving the hare-bones Cosimo’s to the local folk, who enjoy the excellent pizza and inexpensive conviviality.