Il Convento Bizantino XI
settingSeaside (ocean front)
A truly unique accommodation with jaw dropping views of the Amalfi Coast and Ravello. Just when we thought we had run out of superlatives to describe the Amalfi Coast and some of its wonderful places, we came across the Convento, a house that can be rented on a weekly basis. The whole Amalfi region may be replete with delightful bays and jaw-dropping landscapes, even so the Convento manages to be unique and difficult to put into words.
You may ask what makes it so singular? First of all, the Convento stands on the upper floor of a 10th century Byzantine Monastery (the Badia di Santa Maria Olearia, now owned by Italy’s Ministry of Culture) which is itself built into a natural grotto. Acting as a shelter, the grotto provides some of the open areas and terraces from which to enjoy the simply breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast and Ravello. There’s nothing cave-like about the place, however, with bougainvillea, terracotta pots of geraniums and centuries old frescoes adding to a perfect alchemy of nature and traditional architecture.
It may not have the luxury of some of the Amalfi Coasts well known hotels, but despite (or perhaps because of this more discrete style) it is simply wonderful; odds on that you will be speechless as the senses are bombarded upon arrival – which, incidentally, is done by way of a stairway that once acted as the entrance to the old monastery. In the midst of all this stunning nature and history, one can almost forget how comfortable and well decorated the Convent is – an elegant and colourful mix of local antiques and Moroccan pieces. Conceived as three areas connected by a 200 square metre terrace, the main building has three bedrooms and two bathrooms plus a sitting room endowed with a fireplace making a stay here even in winter rather romantic and cosy. Once you are here, additional information on the accommodation and local area is cheerfully be provided by Guido the caretaker. He will even be willing to take guests on tour of the convent, which with its medieval frescos, catacombs and chapel is itself very much worth a visit. We were loath to leave the Convento and are sure you will be too.
We do not normally highlight private houses, but for this one we will make a notable exception. Finally a quick note about access to the bay: 10 min walk to reach a private gate, 5 min additional walking plus 400 steps to reach a wonderful bay, picnic and drinks recommended! Once you reach the bay, on the left side, there is a natural cave plus five steps to slide into the water. You can check the water conditions from the terrace with its sunbeds and space for barbecues. Parking too is easily arranged with an open space at the gate to the convent or a garage proper 5 minutes away on foot.
PLEASE NOTE that though this is a very special place located in the midst of extraordinary beauty, it is located above what is in effect the only seaside road passing through the Amalfi Coast. Off peak this is not a particular problem but in high season it can get very noisy due to the increased level of traffic.
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