International Inspiration: The Amalfi Coast

Sudden inspiration can surface when you least expect it. As designers, we work closely with our clients and fellow designers to complement what already exists or to vivify the vision that will soon come to fruition. Creatives can experience inspiration in the most unlikely places; color combinations in nature, a pattern on a piece of fabric, food, cars….literally, anywhere.

In the spirit of summer and the season for travel, let’s take an international trip to a destination that is the perfect place for inspiration for a family of Nyctaginaceae, the Bougainvillea. We land at Italy’s Amalfi coast.

Welcome to Ravello.

[Ravello] cured Richard Wagner’s writer’s block, provided inspiration for DH Lawrence as he nurtured the plot of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and impressed American writer Gore Vidal so much that he stayed for 30 years and became an honorary local. Ravello has a metamorphic effect on people.”

The colorfully stacked hillside buildings are inspiration enough but, we are going to take a look at some of the manicured gardens of this hillside Arcadia. Bougainvillea bloom well into Autumn and can often be found clustered with Cycalmen.  

Bougainvillea come in a variety of colors; pink, purple, orange, yellow and white with magenta, and can be trained as a vine or more like a bush, which makes it a versatile accent in design. The magenta paper-like petals are balanced with leaves that are peacock blue-green in color which makes it a nice complement to a brown, bronze or soft pink flower.

Image courtesy of

Like any amazing vacation, they have to end. Let’s virtually travel back to L.A. and look at where we can visit to be reminded of the colorful coast. Lucky for Los Angeles, we have Glendora Bougainvillea. Lianas, or a type of climbing vine, stretch for 600 feet along Bennet Avenue and Minnesota Avenue, wrapping old palm trees.

Back in the late 70s, this stretch was registered as a national landmark as the largest growth of this exotic plant in the United States. Planted in 1901 by the R.H. Hamlins, early citrus growers. The parent stock was brought to California by a whaling ship about 1870.

While it’s difficult to recreate the coastal vibes of Italy, we can use the inspiration from our trip to incorporate this dense plant into commercial or private landscapes. The architecture of the building can play a big part in how the Bougainvillea are trained to grow. Vines can climb columns and entryways to welcome people or planted as a bush to landscape and add a pop of color to complement and frame the surroundings.

Hopefully this journey to Italy and back encourages you to take a moment out of your day to enjoy your surroundings and find a little inspiration in the small things.  A California landscape is no Amalfi Coast, the similitude of the beauty and euphoria you can experience, when surrounded by this luscious plant, can help you escape on a brief Italian getaway in your own backyard.