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6. Wander through a Rossellini film set
One of the region’s most beloved sons was the director Roberto Rossellini, known as much for his colourful love life as for his movies. He filmed in Maiori, and stills from his famous scenes are displayed around the town. Visitors walk the streets recreating the poses of his leading ladies, Ingrid Bergman and Anna Magnani, pretending to star in their own movies. One person who doesn’t need to fake it is former builder Carlo Rumolo (right). Still sprightly at the age of 100, he was spotted by Rossellini in an amateur dramatics production in the early 1950s. Soon after, he was cast as a police brigadier in The Machine that Kills Bad People, a morality tale about a photographer whose camera has the power to kill. Carlo couldn’t be happier that visitors to Maiori still want to talk about his moment of stardom. ‘It is wonderful to have done something in my life that people care about so much,’ he says with a huge smile. (Rossellini film stills can be found throughout Maiori. For information on the Roberto Rossellini Memorial Prize and film festival held in November, click here.)

5. Cook real Italian food
Lima, known to everyone as Mamma Agata, lives in a house on a terrace below the centre of Ravello. Back in the 1960s, she became the personal chef to an American heiress living here. She has also cooked for Hollywood couples Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. These days, Mamma Agata teaches cookery to guests at the home her family has lived in for 250 years. The school is managed by her effervescent daughter, Chiara, who bounces around, cheerfully forcing food on students. ‘If you want to get the family together, cook!’ Chiara trills, offering up the fruits of that morning’s class: courgette flower fritters, aubergine parmigiana, pappardelle con peperoni (pasta with peppers), chicken with rosemary and Mamma Agata’s famous lemon cake. Humphrey Bogart became obsessed with this cake when he stayed in Ravello, and insisted on having it with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Her extraordinary gift for home-style cooking with regional ingredients comes across in everything she prepares, and she uses natural ingredients freshly picked the morning of each class. For Mamma Agata and Chiara, teaching cookery is not merely a job, but a passion. ‘If I were a millionaire, I’d do this for free,’ says Chiara. ‘For Italians, food is the centre of the world.’ (Mamma Agata, Piazza S Cosima 9, Ravello; 00 39 89 858432)

4. Hide out like Greta Garbo
Perched high in the hills, the village of Ravello is an eccentric maze of stone staircases and medieval houses built around an 11th-century cathedral. This place offers such privacy that it attracted the most famous solitude-seeker of the twentieth century, Greta Garbo. In 1938, Garbo rented the Villa Cimbrone here with her lover, the conductor Leopold Stokowski, who was 23 years older than her and married to someone else. The press staked out the villa round the clock. Suddenly, sleepy Ravello was famed across the globe. Cimbrone is now a hotel. Anyone can wander through the grounds, finding shelter from the blazing sun under trees set in fragrant beds of lavender. The gardens are designed with a sense of mystery: secret grottoes and statues of Greek gods are tucked away among twisted vines and camellias which, gossip columns once claimed, Stokowski picked for Garbo every morning. Bright green lizards sun themselves on the terraces while enormous yellow swallowtail butterflies swoop low over the lawns. ‘It is cruel to bother people who want to be left in peace,’ Garbo snapped at the reporters who followed her around Ravello. Today, the Hotel Villa Cimbrone is as peaceful as any movie star could wish for: the perfect spot if you, like Garbo, want to be alone. (Hotel Villa Cimbrone, Via S Chiara 26, Ravello; gardens open 9am-sunset; 00 39 89 857459)

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