Exactly three years ago, in April 2007, I visited Ravello for the first time. And since then I promised myself to return here every spring. This year my trip will take place at the end of May. I hope it won’t be too hot yet (because I don’t really like hot weather). And I’m looking forward to this trip. In the meantime, for those who, for some reason, do not yet know what Ravello is and how good it is, I will try to tell you about it.
The first word that comes to mind when you try to think or talk about Ravello is beauty. Next comes a no less trivial definition – “fabulous”. The fabulous beauty of these places really does not leave any chance even to the most ardent imagination. These are not just beautiful views, these are canonically beautiful views. These are the easiest to call the capacious Italian word “Belissimo”!
But let’s go in order. South of Sorrento, where once the Roman patricians built their villas, and even earlier – Odysseus almost fell into the sweet embrace of the sirens. And where, finally, Byron, Nietzsche, Goethe, Wagner, Dickens and … Maxim Gorky liked to visit … So, there, on a cliff overlooking the dazzling blue sea (350 m above sea level, this is the highest point of the Amalfi Coast) stands a town Ravello. Whitewashed villas, cobbled streets, medieval arches that serve as a kind of frame for the natural works of nature enclosed in them. Citrus orchards, fountains with drinking water and proud rocks … And blue. The blue of the transparent air, the blue of the sea and the blue of the skies.
Hotel Caruso, which I will tell you about, is the most suitable place to enjoy all these beauties of sunny Italy. The place is charming and carefree. And in general, the town of Ravello itself is much calmer and cleaner than all these branded resorts like the same Sorrento or, say, Positano. Moreover, do not believe if you are told that there is “not enough romance” in Ravello (there is such a strange point of view, about the origin of which I personally do not even dare to make any assumptions – it is so ridiculous). There is a lot of romance here. This whole city is romance itself. Because the locals are much less spoiled by the presence of tourist plankton, these are the Italians (and Italians) with whom it’s nice to just chat, drink something cool and in general – it’s just good with them. In terms of romance, even Villa Rufolo (the prototype of the garden of the wizard Klingsor from Wagner’s Parsifal) is worth something!
But back to the hotel!
The Caruso Hotel (this is the Orient-Express) primarily compares favorably with other luxury offerings of Ravello in that it is located in the eastern part of the city, on a street that runs parallel to the edge of the cliff on which Ravello grew up. And thus one side of it overlooks the street, and the other – directly on the Gulf of Salerno. The hotel is not sandwiched between other houses, but, as it were, closes the chain of palaces, and this is another plus.
This 11th-century building was turned into a boarding house only at the end of the 19th century. And gradually the boarding house turned into a hotel. In which there were people like Gina Lolobrigida, Jackie Kennedy and Greta Garbo.
I was pleasantly surprised that I never felt any breath of decay. On the contrary, a purely aristocratic feeling from staying in these rather ancient walls was invariably accompanied by freshness and some kind of spring feeling of uplift and warmth (perhaps because I came here both times in April). My room had a very beautiful floor with 18th century majolica, but that’s not the most important thing. The key is the windows. They look, again, like neat and unobtrusive frames for those miraculous paintings that open up behind them – rocks, a town, a coast and a sea. In general, the most important thing in the Caruso hotel is, of course, panoramic views. But not only they create a special mood of the hotel.
I really liked, for example, to sit in a bar and in one of the salons. Both there and there, the real baroque frescoes were preserved, which I really liked to look at. In general, this whole special aristocratic drive, so to speak, begins at the door of the hotel: ancient stone lions meet you!
I would like to especially mention the bathroom that I had. Spacious, decorated with marble, with arched vaults. And also with windows from which you can see the sea.
In a garden blooming with roses and bougainvilleas, an infinity pool shimmers on the edge of a cliff. There is also a Belvedere restaurant nearby, where classic Neapolitan pizza is prepared on an open fire.
However, seriously eat, of course, you need in another place. Restaurant Caruso is such an exquisite post-modern fusion of traditional Italian cuisine and light modern.
Take spaghetti with mussels, then fish with tomatoes, olives, capers and herbs. And then, miraculously, you enjoy dessert in the form of some intricate sorbet or even an Amalfi biscuit cake with lemon and raspberries, poured with caramel. And, of course, cheese. If you do not have special knowledge in this area, then just use the tasting offer, you will not lose. The sommelier here is very good, I recommend trusting him and taking the wine that he advises.
And one more restaurant you will certainly need to visit if you come here. This is the Rossellinis at the hotel Palazzo Sasso. Firstly, this is also a good hotel (it is very close to Caruso), and, secondly, this restaurant has two Michelin stars (which is rare for restaurants in these places!). The restaurant got its name in honor of the director Roberto Rossellini (the great neorealist, teacher of Federico Fellini). Once he deigned to stay in this hotel …
If the weather is nice, ask for a seat on the terrace overlooking the sea. And take the mozzarella soup. He’s brilliant here. Just like everything else in this city!