The Most Amazing Things to Do in Ravello Italy

Are you planning a day trip to Ravello and wondering if it’s worth it, and wondering about things to do in Ravello for a day? The answer is yes, and a lot! Come unlock the magic of this unique and inspirational hideaway high above the Amalfi Coast. Here’s your perfect one day itinerary. You’ll dream of Ravello for a long time. I know I still do.

We visited Ravello as part of our 16-day Italy road trip which you can read about here:

Welcome to Piazza Vescovado

An outdoor dining terrace, with the entrance to Villa Rufolo in Ravello Italy
This is the entrance gate to Ravello, looking out from the Piazza Vescovado

You’ll start your day by the entrance gate which will lead you on a very short walk right to the heart of Ravello – the charming Piazza Vescovado. You’ll pass by the entrance to Villa Rufolo on the left, and the small cathedral and its museum on the right. Once you reach the square you’ll see several lovely outdoor dining spots with umbrellas and tons of outdoor seating. If you turn right, you’ll notice many adorable shops, and to the left is up the hill to Villa Cimbrone.

Villa Cimbrone (Of all the things to do in Ravello, this was my favorite!):

If you can manage it, this is where you want to begin your day in Ravello when the gates open in the morning. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the center of town, but give yourself longer to window shop, take in the stunning views, and get a few pictures of the gardens, cobblestone streets, and lemon trees on the way.

There are definitely stairs! They are long, but not steep or narrow, and there are plenty of places to sit and rest, or just pause and gaze. And if you can’t do stairs at all, you can definitely still enjoy a day right on the main level of the square, so just hop ahead to Villa Rufolo!

The paths of Villa Cimbrone start at a 12th century monestary and then after the Grand Avenue turn this way and that to reveal marvels every time. A rose garden, an olive grove, a gazebo, fountains, the “Terrace of Infinity”… It was surreal, gorgeous, and almost entirely empty right at opening.

This was my absolute favorite place in Ravello, and there was some stiff competition! I was so in love, I wrote a whole separate post just on the Villa Cimbrone gardens HERE. There are lots of photos, and a secret gelato balcony overlooking the sea… What more could you ask for?

Cost of admission is about $7.00 and the gardens are open from 9am to 6pm with the last entrance at 5:30. Give yourself about an hour and a half at least.

A light lunch at Villa Amore

After your morning garden visit, head back down the hill into town. You can stop on the way at the Villa Amore for a glass of wine and a light lunch while you gaze out over the blue water. Or you can hit one of the eateries on the Piazza Vescovado, or stop in the restaurant at your next destination.

Villa Rufolo

After lunch, head for the second must-see villa in Ravello, and it’s located right on the main square. I will never forget as we got ready to enter, the woman in front of us said, “Oh… you have to pay. Forget it.” And she turned around and walked out. SPOILER: The admission is only $6.50 and worth every penny! The gardens, the views, the downright magic. And the architecture! The structures were a unique combination of Arabic, Norman, and Sicilian styles. An absolute feast for the eyes.

That iconic Insta photo!

And it is here where you can snap that Instagram-worthy iconic photo of Ravello’s most photo-famous church Chiesa Dell’Annunziata. Seeing those two towers overlooking the sea from the terrace of the Villa Rufolo will be one of those “remember it for the rest of your life” moments.

And just so you know exactly where you’re going, here’s a map I pinned while I was standing in the spot I took this picture so you won’t be running all over the place trying to find it like we did.

History of Villa Rufolo

Construction of the villa began in the 13th century by the wealthy and powerful Rufolo merchant family. But with the family’s declining fortunes it was eventually abandoned, and fell into ruin. Luckily, it found a new lease on life in the mid-1800s when Sir Francis Neville Reid, a Scottish botanist, fell in love with the Moorish architecture, bought it, and began an extensive restoration project.

The central courtyard, known as the Belvedere, is a breathtaking space offering panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast. It often features musical performances during the summer months. The Cloister of Paradise, adorned with intricate Moorish arches and columns is another stunning photo op.

Cost of admission is about $6.50 and the villa is open from 9am to 6pm.

The Cathedral (Duomo) and museum

Right across the square is the most unassuming little cathedral you may ever see. This plain little white church, or so I thought looking at it from the outside, has treasures within that you won’t want to miss! You can see it all in a relatively short time, so don’t pass it up if you can help it. It’s also a nice place to cool off from the sun if it’s a hot day.

Construction of the Duomo began around 1086, and was completed in the 12th century. Again, Ravello’s unique blend of architectural styles melds to create a fascinating building. The Romanesque, Baroque, Byzantine and Moorish elements combine in beautiful and unlikely ways.

Three Amazing Things in the Cathedral

As you enter, the pulpit will grab your eye first. It sits atop six spiraled stone columns, which in turn sit atop six marble lions. Each lion has a completely different face, and personality.

Across from the pulpit, you will see a large stone structure which is known as the Ambo of the Epistles. On the face are two incredible mosaics that I thought at first were of someone being eaten by a dragon, but it’s actually a representation of Jonah and the Whale. Why the whale has a dragon head and wings, I can’t tell you! But there it is.

Don’t miss the bronze door at the front of the cathedral, constructed in 1179 by Italian sculptor Barisano da Trani. Today, only about 30 bronze doors from the 11th and 12th centuries have survived. Most are in Italy, three in Germany, one in Poland and one in Russia. Of those in Italy, three are by this famed sculptor. They are absolutely impressive to behold and I stood there for many minutes looking at the intricate scenes and wondering how heavy they must be. There are lots of great doors in Europe, but this one may top the list!

The Museum

To the side of the Duomo stands the Museo del Duomo, established in the 19th century. This museum houses a fascinating collection of artifacts, including sculptures, paintings, gorgeous mosaics, and liturgical objects, all part of the cathedral and its importance in Ravello’s history.

The museum’s collection is modest, but you’ll find it contains many beautiful and notable works of art including stunning mosaic pieces. And there are many salvaged bits of the original cathedral like flooring and columns, and also several relics and reliquaries.

Entrance to the cathedral is free, and tickets to the museum are about $3 for adults. Opening hours are 9am-7pm.


You will have seen them by now, but now that you’re back in the sunlight, take a little while to browse through the incredible ceramic shops that line the streets. If you have time, don’t rush with a purchase! You may find something you like better just down the road, or a merchant who is willing to deal on what you really want. And you may not even know you desperately needed an olive oil jug, or a garlic dryer, or a pasta bowl, or a pepper grinder until you see it! Geared for tourists? Sure. But these are not cheesy tourist souvenirs – they are true works of art and craftsmanship that won’t end up gathering dust somewhere.

We walked away with quite a few items that make up the centerpiece of my kitchen now! We were fortunate to be able to drive home with our loot, but almost every vendor in Ravello that I could see ships to the US, and to other countries. There were mounds of boxes in every shop waiting to head to the post office. And they do this all the time, so you know your new treasures will be packed well!

For lighter weight souvenir shopping, there are some beautiful jewelry stores featuring coral and silver, and shops selling all kinds of local products like olive oil, vinegar, limoncello and meloncello, and so much more. We left with lots of little jars of tapenade and pesto, luscious liqueurs, and even some local donkey milk soap!


There are many lovely restaurants in Ravello, but one stood out for us as one of the best meals we had in Italy, and the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life. Yes, this was my bold declaration as we sat on the open terrace just after sunset overlooking the sea, feeling the warm late summer breeze. After experiencing all the amazing things to do in Ravello, this was the perfect end to a perfect day.

So do yourself a favor and book a table at Sigilgaida Restaurant in the Hotel Rufolo. And eat on the early side so you can enjoy the spectacular views before dark! The seafood is outstanding, and they focus on using local products and organically grown vegetables from their own garden. Perfection!

If the tables are full, a good second choice is the restaurant in the Hotel Villa Maria, which was lovely. Also outside, with strings of lights, a beautiful ambiance, and several adorable resident cats who patiently wait for bits of whatever comes from generous diners. We ate late, so couldn’t enjoy the view, but the service was impeccable and the food was very good.

Villa Amore

And if you are exceptionally lucky and will be spending more than one night in Ravello, (or if you are now inspired to tweak your itinerary for some more time), you won’t be at a loss for places to stay. There’s a process to getting you and your bags up the hill to where most of the hotels are, but it’s completely doable. You can read my post about that, and our incredible stay at Villa Amore HERE.

Ravello’s Famous Fans (and a tour)

If there’s any lingering doubt in your mind that you won’t be blown away by this place, check out this list of the famous and creative who have found inspiration in this incredible place. There’s also a two hour walking tour of Ravello if you want to know more details about the history and stories of its famous visitors and inhabitants.

D.H. Lawrence: The Engish novelist and his wife sought refuge in Ravello after World War One. They rented a villa overlooking the sea, and Ravello inspired the author so much that he included descriptions in his novel “Women in Love.” “Ravello… perched like a bird’s nest on the edge of the world, bathed in sunshine, a place of exquisite beauty and peace.” You can find his stay commemorated on a plaque

Richard Wagner: The German composer, Richard Wagner, first visited Ravello in 1880, seeking inspiration for his unfinished operatic masterpiece, “Parsifal.” And he certainly found it! Enthralled by the exquisite beauty of the gardens at Villa Rufolo, he imagined them as the setting for the opera’s magical Klingsor’s garden. He wrote, “This view of the world, bathed in the most magnificent sunshine, is truly a feast for the eyes and the soul.” Every summer in Ravello is a music festival named for the great composer.

Greta Garbo: The enigmatic and reclusive Hollywood icon, Greta Garbo, arrived in Ravello in the 1950s seeking to escape the relentless spotlight with her paramour. Her not-so-secret hookup is now commemorated with a plaque at Villa Cimbrone.

Boccaccio: Renowned Italian writer and poet of the 14th century included the town in his literary works.

Gore Vidal: The American novelist and essayist resided on a gorgeous cliffside villa in Ravello for many years, writing several of his books there, including his acclaimed novel “The City and the Pillar.”

The list goes on! British novelist and playwright Graham Greene; American playwright Tennessee Williams; Dutch artist M.C. Escher; English novelist Virginia Woolf; Irish/British painter Francis Bacon; Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis all found peace and inspiration in this little slice of paradise.

Weather and What to Wear

Ravello definitely has cobblestones and some uneven steps, so comfortable flat shoes with some grip are in order. And depending on when you go, it could be hot! During warm months, loose breathable fabrics, sun dresses, short sleeves, and sun hats are everywhere. Also bring sunglasses because somehow the sun in Ravello shines a little brighter! You can check out the current weather for Ravello here.

Make it 2!

So, when you fall in love with Ravello, (and you will), you will be in good company! And if you have only one day, you could manage all these things to do in Ravello. But the key to fully appreciating this rare jewel is to take it slowly and savor the experience – la dolce vita. So stay flexible, and don’t feel hurried. But make it 2 days if you can!

Have you already been to Ravello? Leave your comments and questions. Grazie!

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