(This place deserve another category, it is an insult to call this place a hotel!)
Perched on the high hills of Ravello, overlooking the magnificent Amalfi Coast, on its own botanical gardens established by English travellers of the time, more than a hundred years ago, stands Villa Cimbrone, 12th century residence with its private chappel.
It is only 10 mins walk from Ravello villace square. We have discovered this place while staying in another very very nice boutique hotel but I dont remember the name after seeing this one(!) when we walked into its beautiful gardens which is a village attraction as it is open to public. The gardens are established by two Englishmen about a century ago, it covers the hilltops of a ridge that goes all the way to the edge, to the sheer drop over the citrus plantations below overlooking the Amalfi Coast. Scattered sculptures blend into the garden, allowing one to take quite walks at this magnificent place.
The villa is from 12th century; I think it is an old monastry but I am not sure. It is placed on the left once you enter the gardens. It is a beautiful italian classic, not exagrated or heavy with new-rich extravaganza. Its bright rooms with high ceilings are beatifully furnished reflecting the history of the villa with a small balcony that opens to views of Amalfi Coast.
Its small restaurant is just as classy and the food is exquisite. You have to book as it is not only for the staying guests.
I remember sitting by the pool, facing the view on one side and the 12th century building on the other and thinking how privilidged I was.
I assume they have, maybe 5-10 rooms at most but it feels like that you are all by yourself, so quite, so private. We have witnessed a few very very small wedding ceremonies during our stay, mostly out in the garden, accompanied by a cello and a violin, so even though such events at a place you stay may make the place unbearable, these made the place even more 'fairy tale'-like.
The village itself, Ravello, is a hide-out. Away from the tourist crowded coastline down below, Ravello is on the hill tops, about 8km inland from Amalfi. It is as if time has stoped at this place. Its village square is filled with locals enjoying the afternoon, kids wandering freely on their bikes while parents enjoy their coffee.
This little place that looks so closed to the rest of the world, hosts an annual music festival around July for the past 30 odd years. We had the privilage of enjoying a Lemon Dance Company show on a stage facing the Amalfi Coast's on a moonlit summer night. The two Bach concerts on two consequtive nights are performed by a Japanese soloist, out in the couryard of the village monastry, starting at midnight. No stage, no lined up seats but simple coffee tables at a couryard under the summer sky. Does it get any better?!
During your stay in Ravello, you can also easily visit other parts of the region. You can walk down to the coast; there is a pathway apart from the road that connects Amalfi and Ravello. Or you can take the village bus which drops you by the coast.
Once you are in Amalfi, you can take the public ferry to all sorts of touristic destinations, like Positano, Santorini, Capri..
By the end of it, I was so jealous to see that all this is possible and we are merely visitors!