The thought of a 3.45am wake up call was less than appealing but experiencing the dawn concert at The Ravello Music Festival has been on my bucket list for a long time so I ‘leapt’out of bed and headed for Gatwick in the dark, wee small hours.
Travelling Business Class is of course so much more civilised and the three hour flight whizzed by as I caught up on the inbox, making the most of some blissful, uninterrupted time.
On arrival in Naples, along with half the population of Tel Aviv it seemed, I was thrilled to see the Palazzo Avino driver with my name board. He whizzed me through the crowds and we were soon on our way to paradise on the Amalfi Coast!
After a warm welcome by Mariella Avino and her team, I headed for lunch on the Belvedere Terrace where my early alarm call and the Autumnal August weather became a distant memory as I soaked up the iconic view in the sunshine.
There is nothing quite like that first glass of prosecco when you arrive in the Mediterranean. I inhaled deeply, acknowledging how lucky I am.
On entering my room, a deluxe sea view, I pinched myself ! It doesn't matter how much I travel I am still very conscious of the fact that to experience places like Palazzo Avino is a privilege. Resisting the urge to just collapse onto the frette linen bedding , I quickly changed and made my way to the pool. It was lovely to hear so many different languages being spoken by the mixed clientele Italian , Russian , American and English and I spent a leisurely Wednesday embracing the rugged coastline, once again in total awe of the vista before me.
I dined at Villa Maria in Ravello that evening which has stunning views. They also run an excellent cookery course but make sure you go hungry and do not have lunch beforehand as we did, as you will savour the results of your hard work afterwards on their lovely terrace.
On Thursday morning I slept late and of course enjoyed the wonderful breakfast on the terrace at Palazzo Avino . Can anyone tell me why fresh fruit tastes so good in the Med? Every year I try to prepare a fresh fruit platter for breakfast at home during summer months, but it's just not the same.
The rest of the day was spent doing exactly what I had planned to do…nothing! A leisurely spot of sunbathing by the pool, a wander into Ravello (without sinning at the linen shop!), finishing off with delicious grilled sea bass and vegetables at the hotel's Terrazzo Belvedere. It's interesting how traveling solo on holiday can actually feel perfectly comfortable . It was a first for me (and to be honest not without some trepidation) but I need’nt have worried. Perhaps it was because they all know me, but there was another single lady who actually stays at Palazzo Avino twice a year on her own and never thinks twice about it. In an ideal world though, the Amalfi coast is made for sharing!
Friday arrived bringing the highlight of my trip. The Concerto d'Allba ( dawn concert ) takes place every year on August 11th as part of the Ravello Music Festival ( July - Sept). Another 3.50 am wake up call! I got dressed excitedly and headed for the piazza .
You cannot believe how lively it was at 4.15 am with crowds of well dressed, glamorous concert goers, chatting animatedly whilst ordering much needed expresso from the cafe which had opened early for the occasion. At 4.30am we entered Villa Rufolo, which in itself is an enchanting experience, and took our seats. It was completely dark when the concert started. We sat in anticipation as the orchestra took their seats and warmed up until Antonello Venditti entered the stage to rapturous applause .
It's hard to explain how spectacular this performance was, but let's just say it lived up to my every expectation. I would highly recommend it and ticket prices are around 60 Euro so very reasonable, though obviously hard to come by unless of course you know Antonio Ferrera , Front Office Manager at Palazzo Avino since 1997. When it comes to getting things done, Antonio is a magician! I have the greatest respect for him and his knowledge and passion for the area. Simply unequalled!
What does one do after such an extravaganza when it's still not even 7am ! I tried in vain to go back to sleep - how could I ?
I decided to go to Amalfi but have to say it was so crowded and hot that I made a speedy retreat back to " The Pink Palace". It's just like coming home. As I write this, I am flying back after three wondrous nights and the kind of special memories that will stay with me for a very long time .
I consider my bucket list well and truly ticked. Now, what’s next…