Despite the fact I would happily still be in Ravello eating pizza, drinking limoncello cocktails and watching the clouds drift by, I persuaded myself that it would not be in the spirit of curiosity to remain in my little food/sun cocoon and ignore the fascinating places I was surrounded by. Some exploring was necessary. A cruise to the island of Capri promised just the right balance of exertion and lounging. Villa Cimbrone, a palacial 11th century villa and gardens hanging on the edge of a cliff, seemed simply unmissable.
Initially, the boat trip to the island of Capri seemed like a very bad mistake. Amalfi (our set-off point) and the island itself were beautiful but disastrously over-crowded and over-commercialised. When the time came to leave we hurried back to the boat, eager to get back to Ravello, when our captain suggested a quick cruise around the island…
A quick venture around the coast lead us to hidden coves and caves, crumbling ruins, cliffs and seastacks, and a quiet spot where we could dive (bellyflop) off the back of the boat into the bath-warm, crystal blue water. We made a quick stop to visit the Grotta dello Smeraldo (Emerald Grotto), an experience which was initially uncomfortably reminiscent of the moments leading up to Harry Potter’s first encounter with an inferius. We were packed onto a tiny makeshift dinghy and rowed to the center of the grotto where suddenly the glorified cave’s name was justified. Bright emerald light was rippling up through the murky depths from an underwater cave which lead out to the sunlight. Magical indeed.
If somebody told me that Villa Cimbrone was based on the image I conjured up while imagining Juliet on her balcony pining after Romeo surrounded by luscious, labyrinthine gardens, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I would, however, have been very smug at my cleverness to conjure up something quite so spectacularly beautiful. The garden was full of little surprises hiding down winding paths, suddenly appearing amongst the greenery; Mythological sculptures, tiled benches, leafy grottos, the famous Terrazzo dell’lnfinito (the Terrace of Infinity) which overlooks the sheer drop to the Tyrrhenian Sea, and many more curiosities to be happened upon…
^ ‘Ah, moon of my delight that know’st no wane,
The moon of heav’n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same garden after me – in vain!’
– Edward Fitzgerald, 1859. Based on a translation of a text by Hakim Omar Khayyám
See more photos of Ravello and its surroundings in my Flickr album.
I’ll leave you with this pic from my hotel in Ravello, it was super art-deco, I loved it. x