A luxury holiday experience in Italy
I was recently asked if I would like to represent ITC Luxury Travel on a trip to Italy and I must confess I did not have to think too hard when I heard that the destination was Ravello.
A friend of mine was married there two years ago and after seeing the beautiful photographs and hearing her memories it inspired me to want to visit this beautiful town and see for myself.
The privilege was all mine! Following our arrival into Naples, a drive across the mountainside overlooking the amazing city of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, the stunning Amalfi coastline came into view.
We arrived at our destination mid-morning and were met by Antonio; the hotel’s Concierge Manager. He had so much knowledge of the hotel and the surrounding area and couldn’t wait to show us around, his pride in the hotel was very apparent.
Built in what was once a 12th century private villa for an Italian noble family and opened as a hotel in 1997, Palazzo Avino has been rated as one of the world’s finest hotels and boasts one-star Michelin dining. Tucked away in the medieval hilltop village of Ravello and perched high on the cliffs, 350m (1,000ft) above the sparkling Mediterranean, Palazzo Avino overlooks the picturesque fishing villages of Minori and Marmorata.
My room was beautiful with fresh décor and classic furnishings as well as panoramic views of the ocean and mountainside. It also came complete with a hydro-bath!
After touring our rooms Antonio was keen to show off the beautiful outdoor terraces where lunch can be taken during the day whilst enjoying the spectacular vista. In the evening the Lobster and Martini bar takes centre stage and guests can enjoy a romantic hour sipping cocktails and watching the incredible sunset.
Unfortunately we did not get to witness the sunset as the evening clouded over, however we did get to sample several of the many martinis created by the head barman and I have to say they where truly amazing!
The tour then took us to the rooftop Jacuzzis, a great spot for honeymooners to enjoy a glass of Champagne and take in the glittering scene spread out below them – bliss.
I was treated to the most relaxing spa treatment for which I chose an anti-ageing facial. This was my first and I have to say it will not be my last – it is an absolute must do for all ladies staying in this hotel and I can honestly say I could feel the difference it made to my skin.
The service levels at Palazzo Avino are of the highest standard, the marvellous Antonio and his team are fast and forward thinking, nothing is too much trouble and even when you leave the resort they are on hand to offer their assistance. As an example, I left behind a small item – nothing of value but very precious to me – and they found it and arranged to have it returned to me in the UK.
Outside of the property there is much to see within the local area. A short stroll down the cobbled street brings you to Vescovado Square - home to the spectacular Doumo, the Cathedral of Ravello. The square boasts stunning views of the rural countryside and is home to restaurants and café bars and the beautiful gardens of Villa Ruffello which feature the festival of light show in April, musical festivals throughout the season, beautiful gardens and stunning views.
Villa Cimbrone is a further 5-10 minute stroll along the quaint alleyways and I couldn’t resist a walk through the stunning garden steeped with history, standing on the Terrace of Infinity for a heart stopping moment and breathing in the sweet aroma of the Avenue of Infinity with its marvellous blooms. My friend hosted her wedding reception here after marrying at the Cathedral - I now know why.
It is the most beautiful location and has attracted many famous admirers, including E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence and Winston Churchill. Hollywood actress Greta Garbo and conductor Leopold Stokowski had a famous romantic getaway on its grounds in 1938 too.
I’d recommend a meander along the walkways and taking in the local boutiques and craft shops, ice creams parlours and the best of Italian hospitality.
Dinner the first evening was taken at Rosellinis - the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant - and was a delightful experience. The food and service is perfection and is enjoyed throughout the year by tourists from all around the region, followed with a martini in the hotel bar of course!
As I had only two days in Ravello I had to see the sights of Pompeii; an architectural wonder, it really is an amazing site, and we had a fantastic guide that went into great detail explaining the facts about life in this period. A great day out had by all.
Back at the hotel we took afternoon tea in Caffé del Arte, admiring the views for one last time before dusk and our imminent departure the following morning. No visit to Ravello would be complete without an evening visit to a local Trattoria, and so we had a wonderful time at Cumpo Cosimo enjoying delicious pasta dishes and local wines on our last night.
All too soon it was morning and time to head back home, saying goodbye to this beautiful place and its beautiful people. But I have made a promise to my husband that one day I will take him there to steal a little bit of the magic that I took home with me.