Ciao AmalfiWriting, photography & tales from daily life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, through the eyes of Laura Thayer, an American writer, blogger, photographer and art historian. Currently co-writing a novel with my mother, Sandra Thayer, set on the Amalfi Coast.
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Category Archives: Ravello
There is a staircase I follow often to visit family that leads from the main piazza of Ravello, through and under the Villa Rufulo and past two churches. The first church is the much photographed Chiesa della SS. Annunziata. But my favorite view of it is the one you see above, which is so nicely framed by an arched walkway going down this staircase. Around a few more corners and you’ll spot the undulating roof and bell tower of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Last week the curves of the roof and the bends in the staircase as it twisted and turned down the mountainside caught my attention more than usual. Maybe it was because the sun was mostly hiding and the light was a bit odd. (That view can be particularly distracting when the sun is shining!)
I love the curves of the roof and especially the part above the little window with criss cross bars. It’s hard to know just where to look with the steps leading one way and the lines of the building so smoothly rolling up and down. The eye doesn’t come to rest easily in one place.
Vertiginous moments like these make it easy to understand why an artist like M.C. Escher fell in love with the Amalfi Coast. (Take a look at some of Escher’s drawings from the Amalfi Coast here.)
There are also little architectural details that shed some light on how brilliant and colorful these churches must have appeared when they were built. (Although it’s hard to just how much has been retouched with restorations.) The border around the window above is on the side of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Walking up and down the steps and stopping to enjoy little details like this is what life — and travel — is all about for me.
Spring came a bit late this year, but it wasn’t stingy with its beautiful colors and much needed cheeriness. One sunny day when the internet went kaput I took a ride up to Ravello and headed toward the Villa Cimbrone. I’ve shared photos of a picture perfect autumn stroll through the Villa Cimbrone and a winter walk in Ravello, but I haven’t yet covered my favorite season of the year on the Amalfi Coast. Bright bursts of yellow, electric pink blooms and, yes, there will be wisteria! I try to visit the Villa Cimbrone each spring, but I’ve never managed to time it with the blossoming of the wisteria covered walkways in the garden. This year I was in luck as the much of the wisteria was at its peak. So just sit back, enjoy a cup of tea and savor the beautiful blossoms, garden setting and all the loveliness of spring at the Villa Cimbrone in Ravello!
The Amalfi Coast is made of twists and turns with hidden away staircases, unexpected vistas out to the sea and beautiful spots to discover. If you’re the sort of traveler who likes to wander and explore, this is the place for you! Ravello has two famous villas with gardens you can visit—the Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone—but there are many other lovely spots to discover if you head out to explore the town. Strolling along Via San Giovanni del Toro just past the entrances to the luxe Hotel Caruso and the Palazzo Avino you will spot an arched stone entrance dripping with vines. Peek through the arch to catch just a glimpse of the view and it’s impossible not to walk in to explore the little Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte.
The small grassy garden is shaded with beautiful trees and planted with seasonal flowers. This is a very popular spot for weddings in Ravello since the city hall is just a short stroll away. There are some very well placed benches where you can sit and relax while enjoying the view. “Belvedere” means “beautiful view” – and that’s most definitely what you’ll find here!
The view overlooks the Amalfi Coast with the picturesque village of Torello below and Minori and Maiori in the distance. The views here are very similar to what you would enjoy from the five star hotels nearby, but for free! In many scenic spots along the Amalfi Coast you’ll find signs that indicate where famous movies were filmed. There’s a sign at the Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte about the 1953 movie Beat the Devil with Humphrey Bogart and the beautiful Gina Lollobrigida.
The Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte takes its name from a real princess – Marie José of Belgium (1906-2001) who married Prince Umberto, the crown prince of the House of Savoy. Her title after marriage was the Princess of Piedmont, or Principessa di Piemonte in Italian. She became the last Queen of Italy in 1946, and her short 35-day role as Queen consort from May 9th to June 12th earned her the name “The May Queen.” In the 1930s, when what is today called the Ravello Festival was just getting started, the Prince and Princess of Piedmont attended one of the concerts in Ravello, and this belvedere was renamed Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte in honor of the princess.
Next time you’re in Ravello, take a stroll up to the top of town to enjoy the beautiful views and peaceful garden at the Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte. (Tiaras not required …)
Very exciting news for all of you Amalfi Coast lovers in the UK! Tune in tomorrow evening to the MasterChef UK show on BBC One to see the semi final, which was filmed at the beautiful Mamma Agata Cooking School on the Amalfi Coast. In this episode, judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace take the semi finalists on a culinary odyssey to Italy, including a stop in Ravello to learn Mamma Agata’s cooking secrets and enjoy those dreamy Amalfi Coast views. Sigh … and what amazing views they are from the Mamma Agata cooking school!
Enjoy a sneak peek here with the preview for this episode of MasterChef UK. But you won’t have to wait long to see the full episode! Here are the details:
MasterChef UK on BBC One
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
If you didn’t catch Mamma Agata and her family featured on MasterChef UK, you can catch it all here. One word of warning … don’t watch when you’re hungry!
The beginning of a new year is always a special time – for reflection, for a pause in the hubbub of daily life and for hope for the year ahead. Even though it’s just one of the many days each year, it still feels something like a blank canvas or that crisp, empty page of a new notebook. Boy there’s nothing I love more than the possibilities of a new notebook. While any old notebook will do if the main purpose is simply filling the pages, there’s something extra special about a beautiful notebook. Just like there’s something extra special in the air when the new year starts with a clear blue sky. A moment to be treasured.
This year New Year’s Day arrived with a brilliant blue sky and warmer than average temperatures on the Amalfi Coast. Before joining family for the traditional New Year’s Day lunch, we enjoyed the sunshine and the start of the new year in Amalfi. There were people already soaking up the sun on the beach and even a few brave swimmers testing the water. And with the exquisite colors of the sea in the winter you can hardly blame them. It is oh so tempting!
After a late night watching the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks in Amalfi, a walk on such a beautiful day was the perfect way to start the new day and the new year. Following the road from Amalfi we headed toward the neighboring village of Atrani. Along the way is the medieval watchtower that is now a part of the Hotel Luna.
Atrani was looking sleepy and very lovely on New Year’s Day. There was an air of quiet everywhere as the villages awoke to a glorious start to the new year.
Around the corner past Atrani lies the beach of Castiglione down a winding staircase of a couple hundred steps. It’s a very popular beach in the summer, and even a few people were enjoying the sunshine on New Year’s Day this year.
If you’re used to cold water temperatures you can still enjoy a swim in the sea during the winter months on the Amalfi Coast. While there are some locals that swim nearly every day and tourists that brave the cold, it’s not my cup of tea. I’m an admirer of the sea from afar in the winter, which is when I think the colors are the most beautiful. This vivid turquoise is just incredible!
I hope your new year is off to a brilliant and happy start! Wishing you a peaceful year ahead filled with many tales to recount in your blank notebook.