The second holiday we had this summer was to the Sorrento peninsula for a family wedding. I had never been to this part of Italy before and apart from a quick weekend in Venice some years ago I haven’t seen much of this country. Monty Don’s programmes on gardens around the world, specifically Italian Gardens, were my only exposure to the gardens to be seen.
Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi
We stayed in a hilltop village called Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi just south of Sorrento town. My wife and I took a long walk around the hills and back streets of the villages in the region. What struck us was the vegetable gardens attached to each of these rural villas and even within the villages themselves. I turned green with envy watching row after row of plump tomatoes ripening outside.
The town of Sorrento doesn’t have much to offer as a horticultural holiday but the views over the bay to Naples are lovely and the small cloisters where the wedding ceremony took place in was beautiful.
By far and away the highlight for us was a trip to Amalfi and Ravello. Having spent the week gripping the steering wheel of a fiat panda doing hairpin turns around the steep hills of the area it took some courage to plan a trip to Ravello. Our guide book stated it had 2 open gardens and a quiet square with cafes for lunch but was 90 mins away from where we were staying and located at the top of a hill. It was worth the journey.
Villa Rufolo is charming but the main attraction is the iconic view down over Amalfi. We had a tourist ticket that included all the sites of Ravello so we were able to stroll around the village and peak into any one that took our fancy.
Villa Cimbrone was our favourite. It was a pleasant walk through narrow streets up the hill and out of the main part of the village. I recently saw the garden featured on Alex Polizzi’s new TV programme. It has a variety of different areas including lawns, rose garden, arbour and an ‘infinity’ terrace. I have never been stunned to silence before but the view from here stopped me in my tracks. Breathtaking. I can’t wait to go back.