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Welcome to Ravello on the beautiful Amalfi Coast, this charming little town has attracted famous guests for centuries, among them Giovanni Boccaccio, Richard Wagner, M.C. Escher, Virginia Woolf, Gore Vidal, and Sara Teasdale.
Ravello is one of the most attractive destinations on the Amalfi Coast. With a population of around 2,000, the settlement perches high above Amalfi, overlooking the Mediterranean. A renowned musical festival is held in Ravello every year, with classical music concerts taking place in gardens with breathtaking views, all through the summer months.
Perched high above the sea on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Ravello’s beauty has inspired writers and artists since the 14th century when Boccaccio mentioned Villa Rufolo in his Decameron. Subsequent visitors and residents included Richard Wagner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Gore Vidal. And most Ravenna hotels have hosted their share of celebrities. Recently, True Blood star Anna Paquin and her husband honeymooned there.
Surrounded by lemon and olive groves, Ravello boasts some of the most spectacular views in Italy, and two of the most beautiful gardens — Villa Rufolo, which inspired Wagner to compose Parsifal, and Villa Cimbrone. Located in the center of town, Ravello’s Romanesque Duomo dates from 1086. With bronze doors cast in 1179, a 13th-century campanile, and some pretty mosaics, it’s also worth visiting.
Ravello is famous for its views and its gardens. The town was once part of the Republic of Amalfi; now it is a peaceful historic village popular with tourists and honeymooners.
The principal Ravello tourist attractions are the two famous gardens, Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. Both of these panoramic gardens are open to the public, and you can wander through the tropical plants and enjoy fabulous views of the coastline.
Ravello also has an impressive cathedral, the venerable Duomo, dedicated to San Pantaleone whose blood is a treasured relic and supposedly liquefies every year. The Museo del Duomo, in the crypt, is worth visiting. Exhibits include a lovely sculpted marble head of a woman by Nicola di Bartolomeo da Foggia (although this has been absent on loan to various exhibitions lately; we saw it in Rimini).
Ravello Tourist Information Office is easy to find in Piazza Duomo.
The dreamlike setting of Ravello's gardens inspired Wagner, and it's fitting that today music is a major feature of Ravello. The Ravello Concert Society organises a long season of chamber music concerts (March-November), most of which are held against a backdrop of sky and sea in the panoramic gardens of Wagner's inspiration for Parsifal, the Villa Rufolo. Tickets can be bought online from the Society's website (see links panel on the right). If there's a concert on when you're in Ravello, you really shouldn't miss the opportunity to attend. The combination of scenery and music creates an atmosphere that you're unlikely to forget.
Ravello was an important town of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, between 839 and 1200 AD, and a diocesan town from 1086 to 1603; after that the bishop's see was moved to Scala. In 1270, Nicola Rufolo, one of the richest men of Ravello, had his villa built on a ledge and it has become a famous attraction for thousands of visitors. The Villa Rufolo was mentioned by Giovanni Boccaccio in his Decameron and it is the place where Richard Wagner in 1880 was inspired for the stage design of his opera Parsifal.
WHAT TO SEE
- The spectacular Villa Cimbrone, famous for its Terrace of the Infinite.
- The ancient church of San Giovanni del Toro built before the year 1000.
- Villa Rufolo, the dwelling of the noble Rufolo family in the 11th century, with two towers and spectaculat gardens. At the entrance of the Villa there is the smaller of two towers in the moorish style, conceived only as an ornamental piece of architecture, and never used for defense. The avenue leading into the Villais lined with cypress and lime trees; the villa is a unique example of classical art combined with Sicilian, Arabic and Norman styles. Dominating the gardens is the larger of the two towers, about 30 m tall. Every year Ravello, in memory of Wagner's visit here, hosts Italian and foreign orchestras to perform in the Wagnerian Music festival. The orchestras perform on a platform extending from the lower level of the Villas gardens, as if suspended over the sea far below.