It's hard to imagine a more romantic setting than the Villa Cimbrone's, in the fabulous gardens laid out by English aristocrat Lord Grimthorpe in Ravello during the early 19th century. A formal network of paths and beds with wilder landscaped areas, they boast a belvedere, from where you can admire 'the most beautiful view in the world', according to Ravello habitué Gore Vidal. The villa is equally enchanting. A 12thC building, revived by Grimthorpe and recently restored again, it has kept all its period features including splendid stone fireplaces and tiled floors, and is crammed with knick-knacks, books, oil paintings and antiques. Through white Gothic doors, the comfortable bedrooms are all individually and exquisitely decorated. It feels exactly like a private house, and it's easy to see why the famous, from D.H. Lawrence to Greta Garbo and her lover Leopold Stokowsky, have taken refuge here.
When we visited the Villa Cimbrone, we felt that all it lacked was its own restaurant. We have just heard that it is planning to open one, which should be a great addition to this lovely place. It will mean that guests won't have to make the 10-minute walk into town for dinner every night, and simply relish having the gardens all to themselves once the daytime visitors have left.