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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Villa Cimbone, Ravello

It was hot when we went to Ravello in June, so hot that even walking from the car the the main square seemed to be too much. There was lots to see in this small town but the heat sapped our energy and we only managed to make it out to the Villa Cimbone and back. The gardens were our destination and we were not disappointed. It is extraordinary how often on the continent one encounters gardens or villas built, or owned by, the British aristocracy. Visiting them is like having a retrospective encounter with the wealth of Britain in the 19th century. 
The garden has everything, gorgeous vistas along the coast, shady pathways through the woods, beautifully framed statuary and an extraordinarily expensive  hotel, where you can stop for perhaps the most expensive drink you'll purchase in Italy, thankfully supplemented with a huge bowl of local olives and other snacks! The hotel is pictured below.

To get to Ravello you have to drive inland on a torturously windy road. It's a lovely detour and highly recommended.