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Villa Cimbrone Gardens. Ravello. Italy.
The Villa Cimbrone can be found on a precipice overlooking and towering above the delightful Amalfi coast giving unparalleled views towards the Gulf of Salerno and back along the Amalfi coast line to Amalfi far down below.
The house has origins dating back to the 11th Century and has been added to at various times throughout its history at one point being used as a monastery. The house even has a small courtyard cloister in the middle of the building. The building is actually a bit of a folly as it has been added to by different families who have lived here. In 1904 whilst doing the grand tour which was the fashion of the gentry Ernest Beckett, Lord Grimthorpe (He designed the clock mechanism for Big Ben) fell in love with the place and bought it. He employed a local man to help him enlarge the house and create a classical English Italian garden. When Lord Grimthorpe died in England he returned to his beloved Villa to be buried in the grounds.
The soil is very fertile and it is easy to grow beautiful flowers shrubs and other plants here especially roses. The building is now a luxury hotel but the gardens being so beautiful are open to the public. There is no road to the hotel and the only way to reach it is from the town square of Ravello on foot. Even guests have to walk the remaining half mile or so to reach the hotel along a cobbled pathway but the hotel would send a porter to collect your luggage.
This is a luxury hotel with prices starting at over 300 Euro for a single room right up to 900 plus per night for a suite. To avoid the walk if you happened to have your own helicopter there is a landing pad in the grounds. The hotel has hosted such people as The Duke and Duchess of Kent, Henry Moore, T.S. Elliot, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill and the Clintons.
After reaching the estate after climbing several steps you enter into a small enclosed garden area with exotic trees and a water feature. Continuing to mount more stairs you finally reach the ticket office for the gardens. There were not many people queuing for tickets and we were quickly on our way. Walking up the avenue of Immensity on either side it is planted with shrubs and trees. Passing through a privet hedge there is a massive terrace overlooking the steep hill that stretches down to the sea and the most wonderful view of the Gulf of Salerno with its aqua blue sea stretching out below and off into the distance as far as the eye can see before the sea appears to merge with the sky. The views of the surrounding coastal towns and mountains are phenomenal and although I really hate the term awesome it truly is an awesome sight.
Continuing along the avenue of Immensity you approach a domed temple containing the statue of Ceres before reaching the terrace of Infinity. The terrace of Infinity gives uninterrupted views out over the Mediterranean Sea and the twisting and winding roads and terraces down below covered with olive and lemon trees. Along the terrace are busts of Greek Gods along the walls interspersed with railings and little semi-circular platforms to pose for photos. For those not happy with heights there is a drop of at least 1000 feet down below.
After leaving the viewing platform we walked through the shaded woodlands passing the Temple of Bacchus towards the rose garden. There is a large parterre containing the rose garden and the smell from the roses is amazing. Dotted around the estate are statues of David, Eve, Mercury to name just a few. There is a small grotto on the Estate. It is such a beautiful setting overlooking the coast and surrounding valleys and mountains. Returning through the rose garden you come to a small opening area which is known as the tea room although not as you would imagine. It is an open sided building with a small terrace containing font like structures and two carved columns looking something like totem poles. There is a tower that looks like something from a German castle at the house and you come back to the cloisters of the house and the end of the tour of the gardens.
Is it worth a visit?
If you are touring the Amalfi coast it is well worth a visit here especially if you are in the town of Ravello towering 1,500 feet above sea level. The views are really fantastic and it is well worth the effort finding the gardens then going for lunch and a drink in the cliff top cafés or restaurants back in the town so that you can admire the scenery.
Open Daily from 09:00 till sunset.
There is an entry fee of 6 Euro.
Facilities are very good including toilets, a café and you could if you wished make a reservation for lunch at the hotel at a price of course.
Accessibility: Practically impossible for someone in a wheelchair and especially difficult for someone with mobility problems.