Ravello

If you read my post about this morning, you know my adventure today was a day trip I booked on the Amalfi Coast. This afternoon took me to the third of three Amalfi Coast towns on the tour, Ravello.

Just as a brief recap of the morning’s post, it was a small group tour led by the driver, Mariano. In the morning, the tour visited the towns of Positano and Amalfi. If you want more of a recap, read the damned post. It’s sitting right there. I’m not going to waste my time repeating the whole thing. Harumph.

The Drive to Ravello

Now that you’ve read this morning’s post (can I trust that you did?), you know that I considered the roads we traversed to be quite treacherous. I’m sure not all people consider them as such, just sane people.

The road from Amalfi to Ravello was the same. However, despite being classified as an Amalfi Coast town, Ravello is not on the coast. It’s back from the sea and high up on a mountain.

Consequently, Mariano had to turn off the coast road at one point to head a bit inland and further up the mountain.

That meant plunging off the road into the sea was no longer a risk. We’d land on hard rock instead if we plunged.

There are no traffic lights on the coast road. But a not tiny portion of this road had a traffic light. It’s at a section of the road that narrows from one and a half normal lanes to just one lane. Even the locals are not willing to travel in both directions simultaneously on that section. Or maybe they’re willing, but the authorities forbid it. I suspect the latter.

There is a single traffic light on either end of the narrow portion. Each faces the direction of the oncoming traffic because it would be silly to have them pointing the other way.

As a matter of course, neither of the lights ever turn green. They are either red or flashing yellow. Red obviously means, “Stop. There’s oncoming traffic.”

I think yellow means, “Proceed with caution. The road is treacherous and Italian drivers are maniacs. Who knows if one of them will come toward you against the light? That is to say, use caution unless you’re one of the maniac Italian drivers. In which case, knock yourself out.”

I might have misinterpreted the flashing yellow light. But I don’t think so.

According to Mariano, red lights in either direction last for 12 minutes. So if you just miss one flashing yellow light, you’ve got time for a nap before the next one.

Despite what to me seemed like serious hazards, Mariano drove us safely to Ravello.

In Ravello

Being on a mountaintop, there’s no shore in Ravello. However, from that high perch and the right vantage points, there are views out to the sea.

Mariano told us about two places to take in those vistas. One is from an old villa. But, Mariano said, you have to pay to get in there (eight euros). He said there is another spot where, according to him, you can get those views for free. He told us where that spot was.

When we arrived in Ravello it was lunch time. I’m not one to miss lunch if I can help it. So, I immediately pulled out my phone and used Google Maps to find a reasonably highly rated restaurant. The walking route to that restaurant took me near the free vantage point, so I paused to look. It’s very pretty, but I didn’t think to take a picture. Did I mention it was lunchtime. I think I did. I have priorities.

Not taking a picture didn’t matter much because …

I’ll leave that for a bit. First, it’s time for lunch.

Lunch In Ravello

The restaurant I chose is in a rather quiet spot. The service was fairly prompt, polite, and proper. And I would have said that even if it didn’t afford me the opportunity to use alliteration.

The food was even better. I ordered a pasta dish with eggplant, tomatoes, and cheese. It was delicious. Of course, I made friends with some wine during the meal and an expresso after the meal. It was delightful.

The Italians certainly know how to do food. In my time here so far I’ve only had one meal that I didn’t enjoy. (That was dinner tonight; bad service, worse ambience, and so-so food.) But every other meal has been very good and sometimes superb.

But enough about food. (Wait. Did I just say “enough about food?” I hope I’m not coming down with something.)

Continuing in Ravello

After lunch I wandered around Ravello some. There were considerably fewer people there than in Positano and Ravello this morning, and far, far, far fewer than in Sorrento yesterday. That’s probably because it’s less well-know than those other towns, and it’s less accessible than them. Pretty much the only option to get to Ravello is by road. In addition to road access, you can get to Sorrento by train or ferry, and you can get to Positano and Amalfi by ferry.

And Sorrento had Easter Sunday going for it yesterday, which meant people were off work and prone to travelling to nice places like Sorrento.

Less crowded suited me well. And it’s a beautiful town.

Ravello has a nice, little town square. There’s church off the square that, from the outside, looks quite staid. To enter it you have to pay to go into its museum and then enter the church through the museum. I’ve seen enough old churches on this trip, most probably much more beautiful than that one. And small church museums bore me more often than not. So didn’t go inside.

The streets of Ravello are calm and colourful. There are views of the mountains and another settlement across a valley from at least a couple of points. And, as I said, there are some vantage points where you can see out to the coast. That is gorgeous.

About that, I mentioned that Mariano told us about a villa from which you can get non-free views. I went there.

It’s Villa Rufolo.

Villa Rufolo

I mentioned that it costs eight euros to get into Villa Rufolo, but that’s the price for normal people. For ancient people, such as me, it’s only six euros. Rufolo (which autocorrect insists on changing to “Ruffle” unless I fight autocorrect to the death) is the name of the family that had the villa built back in the 13th century. The structure is attractive from the outside.

There are some simple and nice rooms inside. There are also some interesting stone structures outside the main building, including a small tower that I climbed. The tower was disappointing. The rooftop did not originally have walls. To protect modern-day visitors, they put up glass walls taller than even the tallest person. These distorted the views.

A view over the garden at the Villa Rufolo
A view over the garden at the Villa Rufolo

All of that was nice, but not spectacular. None of the above made it worth paying to go in. Where the Villa Rufolo shines is the views it offers. Even if that’s all there were at the Villa Rufolo it would be more than worth the admission fee just for that. Those views are to be had from a few different spots in gardens and on terraces.

And, as I suggested, the views are spectacular. They take in the surrounding mountains, the coast, and out to sea. It would be hard to beat them.

I can’t stress this enough. The panoramas are of the died and gone to heaven variety. I don’t actually remember going to heaven. And fortunately I did return to the corporeal world after taking in the views. This is particularly a good thing because I don’t believe in heaven, so I would have ended up in nothingness, which probably gets boring quite quickly.

Back at the meeting point waiting for Mariano, one of the other passengers and I discussed it. Neither of us could understand how Mariano could consider the free view as equal to the view from the villa. It lacked the full sweep of the villa views.

The other passenger suggested that if it were a fight between the free and villa views, the villa views would win in a knockout in seven seconds. I wouldn’t have put it in pugilistic terms, but I agreed with the sentiment.

And the villa vistas included views of beautiful gardens in the villa itself. Those gardens contained considerable flowers and some interestingly shaped trees. I don’t know if the trees were trimmed or if that was their natural shape, but they were quite attractive, particularly with the mountains, coast, and sea as a backdrop for them.

Absolutely amazing.

Back to Sorrento

We returned to Sorrento by the same route we came, so the roads were equally treacherous. But on the way back we were closest to the sheer mountainside rising above us, rather than the plunge into the sea.

Coming at the vistas along the way from the other side, they were different, but equally spectacular.

All-in-all, it was a most enjoyable day out. I wouldn’t have complained in the least if I had more time on the Amalfi Coast. In fact, I would have welcomed it.

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