Historic Ravello hotels on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Perched high above the sea on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Ravello’s beauty has inspired writers and artists since the 14th century when Boccaccio mentioned Villa Rufolo in his Decameron. Subsequent visitors and residents included Richard Wagner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Gore Vidal. And most Ravenna hotels have hosted their share of celebrities. Recently, True Blood star Anna Paquin and her husband honeymooned there.

Surrounded by lemon and olive groves, Ravello boasts some of the most spectacular views in Italy, and two of the most beautiful gardens — Villa Rufolo, which inspired Wagner to compose Parsifal, and Villa Cimbrone. Located in the center of town, Ravello’s Romanesque Duomo dates from 1086. With bronze doors cast in 1179, a 13th-century campanile, and some pretty mosaics, it’s also worth visiting.

Luxurious Ravenna hotels.

With a pedigree that includes hosting celebrities as diverse as Virginia Woolf and Rod Stewart, Hotel Caruso offers breathtaking views of the Bay from its terrace, rooftop dining area, and better rooms. In 2005, Orient Express Hotels did an extensive renovation of the medieval Palazzo D‘Afflitto and now the 50 rooms set the bar for luxury accommodations on the Amalfi Coast. If you can afford it, opt for a room with a balcony, terrace, or private garden. Three restaurants, tennis courts, a gorgeous infinity pool, and a fitness center mean you never have to leave.

Hotel Palumbo has 20 rooms in two buildings — one a 12th-century palazzo. Rooms and public areas are decorated with museum-quality antiques. And the whole aura is one of old-world refinement. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie filmed part of Mr. and Mrs. Smith there, and JFK and Jackie were guests. A free shuttle drives guests to the Palumbo’s private beach. The restaurant, which specializes in local seafood, is top notch. The views are incredible, and service is first rate.

First opened in the 1880s, Palazzo Sasso reopened in 1997 after Sir Richard Branson renovated the 11th-century palazzo. These days, there are roof-top spas, a marble lobby, a fitness center, and glass elevators. Guests here want for nothing, and the rooms are modern and well equipped. Suites are huge and have sensational views. And the Rossellini restaurant — named for guest Roberto Rossellini who came with Ingrid Bergman — is fabulous.

Built on the site of an old Roman villa, Villa Maria opened in 1934. It’s one of the few Ravello hotels in the Liberty style, as Art Deco is known in Italy. Floors and bathrooms are decorated with Vietri tiles, and the lamps and chandeliers have glass from Murano. The restaurant uses veggies and herbs grown in the villa’s pretty gardens, which surround the terrace. Although Villa Maria is lovely property, the views are not overlooking the bay.

Affordable Ravenna hotels.

Very close to the villa of the same name, Hotel Rufolo overlooks the villa’s beautiful gardens. It’s also very close to the villa where Gore Vidal lived for years. With marble floors, antiques, and a lovely verandah, it feels like a private home — albeit a grand one. In 1926, D.H. Lawrence penned part of Lady Chatterley’s Lover here.

Housed in what was originally a 13th-century convent, Hotel Parsifal has 17 small rooms, a pretty terrace, swimming pool, and ivy-covered arches in the cloisters. It’s a romantic spot that’s a good choice if you don’t want to break the bank.

Very close to the center of town, Hotel Graal also has marvelous views of the bay. There’s a nice pool with deck chairs and umbrellas, but the beach is only a 20-minute walk downhill. On-site parking makes it a convenient base for exploring the coast. Rooms have tile floors, satellite television, big bathrooms, and balconies. There are two restaurants, a bar, and WiFi access. Hotel Graal offers good value for money in Ravello.

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