Perched atop a rocky promontory known as “Cimbronium” lies the historic Villa Cimbrone, the name harkening back to its geographic roots.
Located in the charming town of Ravello, its origins trace back to at least the 11th century A.D. The earliest records of the villa identify the Accongiogioco family as its owners. Over the centuries, Villa Cimbrone changed hands to the wealthy and influential Fusco family, who were also recorded as proprietors of the local church of S. Angelo de Cimbrone in the 13th century. Later, the villa became part of the adjacent monastery of Santa Chiara. In the latter half of the 19th century, the property came into the possession of the Amici family from Atrani.
The 20th century saw Villa Cimbrone undergo extensive modifications and expansions under Ernest William Beckett, who incorporated architectural elements sourced from various parts of Italy and beyond, leaving the original structure scarcely visible. Beckett also redesigned the gardens, and while the villa now operates as a hotel, it remains open to the public. After Beckett’s passing, his family maintained the gardens. Over the years, the estate has hosted numerous luminaries including Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, D.H. Lawrence, Vita Sackville-West, Edward James, Diana Mosley, Henry Moore, T.S. Eliot, Jean Piaget, Winston Churchill, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Actress Greta Garbo and her then-lover, conductor Leopold Stokowski, frequented the villa in the late 1930s. The villa was sold to the Vuilleumier family in 1960, who initially used it as a private family home before converting it into the hotel that exists today.
Gore Vidal famously described the villa as “the most beautiful place I had ever seen in all my travels.” Indeed, perched on a cliff’s edge, the villa commands breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the coastline.
Villa Cimbrone is now a private, five-star hotel and a sought-after wedding venue. Its gardens are open to the public and stand out as one of the most unforgettable sights on the Amalfi Coast. The famous Terrace of Infinity is lined with marble busts gleaming in the sunlight. The main walkway, the Avenue of Immensity, is adorned with a pergola covered in white and blue wisteria in full bloom during the summer. Within the gardens, there is much to discover: the Statue of Ceres set within a small temple right next to the terrace; the Temple of Bacchus; the Eve Grotto; a replica of Donatello’s famed sculpture of David; and the Rose Garden.
Perhaps one of Italy’s most exquisite gardens, Villa Cimbrone is a must-visit for anyone renting a holiday home on the Amalfi Coast.