The consecration of the costal landscapes of Campania, set between sea and sky, at the hands of writers and travellers sheds light on the importance of the genius loci. The blue sky, mild weather, and year-round sunshine of this region was utterly irresistible for British travellers, such as Ambassador William Hamilton, for instance, who was married to Emma Hamilton, Admiral Nelson’s lover.
This promised land is home to Villa Ruffolo and its gardens with their marvellous marine views. Property of the Scotsman Sir Francis Read this residence was a setting that inspired Wagner to imagine the scenography of the II Act of Parsifal; not far is the more recent Villa Cimbrone, property of another Scotsman, Sir Ernest William Beckett, where an expansive view of sea and sky blend into the horizon; another gem is English Ambassador William Walford Astor’s Villa del Tritone of in Sorrento with its terraced gardens sloping down to the sea. The name of the road connecting Amalfi to Vietri – the so-called “Amalfi Drive” inaugurated in 1853 – incapsulates the bond between British travellers and this Mediterranean landscape.
The charming atmospheres of the Sorrento and Amalfi coast are on a par with those of the Isle of Capri, where ancient Roman imperial villas paved the way to the late 19th-century residences that were built in the most picturesque spots on the Island, such as Villa San Michele on the Scoglio delle Sirene, property of the Swedish medic Axel Munthe, where one feels only one step away from heaven; also of note is Ischia, with English composer William Walton’s Giardini della Mortella crossed by paths revealing countless marine views.