up in the mountains, Ravello is a terrace over the sea,
overlooking the villages of Minori
The focal point of the short stretch of coast between Maiori
and Amalfi, it has been the refuge of VIPs.
According to local legend, Ravello was founded in the 5th
to 6th centuries A.D. by Roman patricians fleeing
barbarians who were ransacking Rome. The small town flourished
in the Middle Ages, when it became part of the Repubblic of
Amalfi. It was then the elected residence of some of the
wealthiest merchant families of the republic, who created the
numerous palaces that adorn this small town (many transformed
into hotels today) and decorated the churches with works of
Often overlooked, the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa
Maria a Gradillo, dating from the 12th century, is
the first architecturally noteworthy site you will see upon
intertwined arches, tall apses, and airy interior are all
characteristic of the Arab –Sicilian style brought to town by
the powerful merchant families who made their fortunes trading
with Sicily, Northe Africa, Spain and Asia. Until the
earthquake of 1706 that destroyed it, the atrium in front of
the church was used as the meeting hall for the nobles of
Already celebrated by Boccaccio in his Decameron and by Turner
in his paintings, Ravello is surrounded by luscious fields,
vineyards and citrus groves.
Ravello is connected to SS163 by a sometimes dramatic mountain
road that follows the valley of the stream Dragone, between
Minori and Atrani. The town is largely pedestrian, with steps,
narrow lanes and ramps of steps, and cars have to stop at the
large public parking lot not far from the Duomo.
The internationally famous Festival di Ravello focuses
on classic music, but it is also the occasion for other
events, including jazz, dance and visual arts. It is very
popular not only for the big names it attracts but for the
magnificent settings. Performances are held at Piazza Duomo,
Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, among other venues. The
festival is organized into several series, including the
Festival Musicale Wagneriano – classical music concerts
held in July in the gardens of Villa Rufolo - and the unique
Concerti dell’Aurora, a group of concerts held at dawn
(usually starting at 4am), to welcome the day in music.
charms of Ravello also captivated an Englishman, Lord Grimthorpe, who built the Villa
Cimbrone early this century with the help of his valet, Nicola Mansi, a native of Ravello.
Together they transformed an ancient villa, enriching it with antiques, paintings and
relics collected from all over Italy. Today the gardens of Cibrone are a mediterranean
sanctuary. Tall cypresses reach heavenward, the fragrance of massed roses fills the air;
pathways lead us to statues of Roman gods. Along the "Avenue of Immensity" huge
pink oleanders line the way to the Belvedere posed on the cliff's edge. From this little
building you can pause to take in the unforgettable views from here across the
"Infinite Terrace" to the sea and sky beyond, and recall the words of Omar
Khayam which are carved above a stone seat in the rose garden at Villa Cimbrone.
Chamber Musik on the Amalfi Coast - Ravello
"Ah moon of my delight that knows no wane
The moon of heaven is rising once again
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same garden after us in vain".