Ravello is situated at the summit of the Dragon Ravello valley. It is a garden town that has enchanting and indescribable panoramic views. The beauty of this place has attacted travelers for centuries, intellectuals, artists, and of every nationality like, Boccaccio, Wagner and many more. It was most likely founded by a Roman colony in the 6th century because it is between the mountainous areas making it a great refuge to escape from the destruction and vandalism of the barbarians; the first accurate news about Ravello dates to the 9th century when all the centers of the coast entered into the State of Amalfi. Around the turn of the century it was populated by a group of nobles from the Maritime Amalfi Republic, rebelling the authority of the doge. The city quickly became prosperous, in particular thanks to the flourishing wool spinners that were called "Celendra". In the 11th century the people of Ravello were looking to free themselves from Amalfi ties: the village was surrounded by a wall and the patriarchal families started to construct their own extravagant homes and electing their own Duke. After the Normans conquered the area and their position in the Meridione the decline of Ravello began, and it became part of the kingdom in 1131. In 1137 the Republic of Pisa devastated Ravello for three days: given that the people of Ravello were great merchants, they conquered the Arabic markets and, between the 12th and 13th century, the city regained around 36, 000 inhabitants. During the Vespro war (1282-1302) the French occupied Ravello and took 135 ounces of gold. Governed by Giovanni Frezza sided with Ladislao di Durazzo for the recapture of the kingdom and the occupation of Scala, but instead sided with Luigi II d'Angiò. In the following centuries, Ravello began its decline and its population reduced: in the 17th century the black plague further diminished the population. Ravello contains a particularly precious gem: Villa Cimbrone, built in the 11th century, and made even more beautiful in the beginning of the 19th century by an English gentleman named Lord Grimthorpe and with the help of a local named Nicola Mansi. The Cimbrone gardens are still today a rare example of grace and amenity. The villa, together with Villa Rufolo and others in the town, represent the perfection of the local architecture in the main centers of the Amalfi Coast. With the accommodations, their architecture, good cooking, and much more Ravello is a special experience.
THINGS TO VISIT:
. Duomo: founded in 1086 by the first Bishop of Ravello Orso Papirio. The bronze door, a Parisano of train work, presented in 1179 in Constantinople and "brought by way of the sea", is divided in 54 squares representing the saints, the passion story, lions and griffins. The pulpit is from Bartholomew from Foggia (1272). It is dedicated to San Pantaleone and guards some of his blood.
. Duomo Museum: located in the crypt. It contains roman urns, tombs and also sculptures of particular interest (the bust of Sigilgaida Rufolo, one of the most beautiful sculptures in all the western art from the 200s in Southern Italy), silvers from treasure, pastorals in silver and relics of Santa Barbara, Lorenzo e Tommaso.
. The Church of San Giovanni del Toro: built in 975, it conserves an "ambone" from the 12th century, that rests on top of the two semicircular arcs, richly decorated with mosaic and held up by four columns with differently decorated capitals that show noteworthy frescos. The crypt is also decorated.
. The church of Santa Maria a Gradillo: in the 12th century the nobles used to meet here to discuss public affairs. On the inside there are three knaves divided by columns with arcs on high piers.
. Museo del Corallo: founded in 1986, there is the collection of manufactured coral, cameo, mother of pearl and conchs from the roman period in the last century.
. The church of Annunziata: now a congress room used to organize conventions from the European University Center for Cultural Wellness.
. Villa Rufolo: from the second half of the 200s, with two Arabic-normanic style towers. From the the hallway of the entrance tower, decorated with braided arcs on the walls and the vaults and with four huge statues in the corners symbolizing Charity and Hospitality which were devotedly practiced by the Rufolo and through a tree-lined road you can reach the a three-story palace. To the left is the main tower, about 30 meters high; and to the right is the square courtyard, similar to a cloister. Down the road is the terrace of Riccardo Wagner, named after him because on May 26th, 1880, the "musicality of lights and colors" of the scenic garden of Klingsor inspired the Maestro to write the second act of the musical drama of "Parsifal". The Wagner festival with its breathtaking panorama now makes, every summer, a must see for music fans. In the garden, rich with flowers, flourishing plants also exotic ones, there is a Moorish cloister. The antiquarium is located in the ancient chapel of collected fragments of memorabilia recovered in the second half of the 19th century.
. Villa Cimbrone: on the left you will find the courtyard: an artistic imitation of the cloister of San Francesco, embellished with mullion and arcs that developed from columns. A door on the left leads into the "crypt" - an open terrace that faces the sea. To the right is a defense tower, squared and embattled with a four story "castle", everything decorated to imitate Villa Rufolo. In the back of the road, surrounded with western statues and temples (like that of Bacco), it presents the Mercury Belvedere on the most outstanding point of the buttress of Ravello, with a beautiful panorama.
. The church of San Francesco: gothic style with a convent and cloister, founded by the Saint upon his return from the Orient.
. Belvedere of the Princess from Piemont.
. Palazzo Gonfalone: with a beautiful courtyard and acute arcs on columns.
. Palazzo Tolla: the municipal seat
. Palazzo d'Afflitto: with medieval elements.
. Ex Convent of the Augostines: with a restored church.
. Monastery of San Trifone:
.The church of Santa Chiara: with a 13th century fresco that depicts the Christus Pantocrator and 17th century mosaic flooring.
. Ravello Festival: from the end of June to the beginning of September on the spectacular terrace protruding over the sea there are numerous concerts of classical musica, jazz and other events. The prestigious International Music Festival made Ravello the 'city of music' on the Amalfi Coast. It is a terrace stretching over the sea from which you can enjoy a one of a kind scene of natural beauty. From the belvedere, especially the one dedicated to the Princess of Piemonte, the Amalfi coast seems like a dream. The terrace dominates above the blue sea of the coast from a height of 350 meters. You can feel the arcane magic that was immortalized by the memory of Giovanni Boccaccio in his "Decamerone". In 1819, the great English painter, William Turner, stayed in Italy reaching all the way to Ravello. The sketches that were inspired by the Amalfi Coast are now exhibited at the Tate Gallery in London. From that spectacular balcony with a view of Tirreno, musicians, artists, and writers, pillars of the 19th and 20th century culture found inspiration for their own works like Ruskin, Mirò, Vedova and Escher; André Gide wrote a few pages of "The Immortal"; Lawrence worked on his composition of "The Lover of Lady Chatterley"; Graham Greene wrote "The Third Man" in Ravello; Wagner, in the park of villa Rufolo, imagined the fairy garden of Klingsor in his most famous work of "Parsifal"; Grieg musically defined "Perr Gynt".