And to cap it all, Villa Cimbrone
Villa Cimbrone, in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, can be reached from two wonderful roads named after Saint Francis and Saint Chiara respectively: two uphill streets full of old churches and small houses, featuring a surprising variety of styles in the architecture of their façades, ranging from Gothic to Arab, from Romanesque to Lombard.
Walking on these narrow roads grows more pleasant every step of the way. And to cap it all, you get an incredible view on the Gulf of Salerno – which struck even American writer Gore Vidal with its beauty:
I was asked by an American magazine what was the most beautiful place that I had ever seen in all my travels and I said the view from the belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone on a bright winter’s day.
The property – where in Antiquity a Roman villa was built, later replaced by a farmhouse – was purchased in 1851 by Scottish aristocrat Francis Neville Reid, who created a beautiful garden.
Then, in the early 1900s, it was acquired by rich banker and art collector Ernest Beckett (future Baron Grimthorpe). Enamored with Italy, Beckett invested in renovating the gardens and what was left of the old building, filling it with works of art gathered from around the country.
Today the Villa is a five-star hotel, and the garden is open to visitors all year long.