When looking for inspiration, come to Ravello, when looking for fresh summer breeze, come to Ravello, when looking for breathtaking views, come to Ravello, food? Ravello. Music? Ravello Relax? Ravello, the list could go on forever. This town is simply extraordinary, every aspect of it is full of history, of tradition and of the ever present beauty of the Amalfi Coast.
Ravello is inherently part of Western cultural heritage, indeed so many of the most important XIX and XX century artists and intellectuals have come here to create remarkable masterpieces, that one could wonder what English literature, or Opera would be today if Ravello had not been discovered.
Nowadays Ravello embraces its cultural role more then ever, the summer Ravello music festival is indeed one if the most important in Italy; furthermore following the very recent creation of the Niemeyer Auditorium, theatre and music events are scheduled throughout the year. Ravello is half an hour away from Positano, it does not have direct access to sea, therefore it is not the most clustered place of the Coast, and it is perfect for all those who wish to enjoy something more than just a beach holiday.
Ravello's architectural wonders can take days to be fully appreciated, being a peculiar mix of Western and Arab architecture with contemporary incursions, notably Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone.
The cultural offer in Ravello is impressive, and so is the culinary standards of its restaurants. Many gorgeous hikes start from Ravello and lead to the most secluded and special hidden places of the Amalfi Coast. It really is a town for fine spirits, who have an eye for quality and for art.
Etymology and history
The name of the town, which is a first and important input to understand locals' temper derives from the world Rebello, to rebel, referring to the uprising of some Amalfi noble families against the authority of the Doge. These families moved to Ravello and strengthened their opposition to the Amalfi Doge when in 1086 the Norman Ruggiero named the town episcopal see to increase his own prestige and position against the Republic of Amalfi.
Throughout its different dominations, Ravello prospered in the commerce of wool, spices, cloth, connecting the Amalfi Coast with the Byzantine empire.
After years of great prosperity, Ravello lived some centuries of decadence between the XVI and XVIII centuries. However in XIX it started to flourish again to a new grandeur and it became one of the main resorts for artists' and nobles' Grand Tour around Europe. Then on the 26th of May 1880 something captured a man's attention, this man was called Richard Wagner and he had found the Klingsor garden for his Parsifal. Since then Ravello became implacably the most glamorous town of the Amalfi Coast.
What to see... Brace yourself!
Duomo di Ravello
originally built in 1086, when the town was declared episcopal see. Since then many refurbishments have changed the original aspect creating a wonderful and surprising mix of Christian statues and paintings matched with gorgeous Arabic style decorations on a predominantly Byzantine architecture. The 1179 bronze door is one of the few elements that show the Duomo's original grandeur and style. When inside, one should have a peek at the chapel on the left side of the pulpit where San Pantaleo's blood is kept, and where every year crowds of locals and tourists gather to see if the Saint's blood turns liquid in memory of his beheading.
Church of San Giovanni del Toro
built in XI century by a group of local aristocratic families. The pulpit dating back to the XIII century is decorated in Persian style.
Saint Cosma and Saint Damiano Sanctuary
The importance of this XIV century sanctuary is linked to the annual pilgrimage to thank the Saints for their healing powers and interventions. This celebration is very important for Ravellesi as much as for people from all the Salerno area. The original structure of the Church is now part of the more modern refurbished building which was blessed and opened in 1965.
situated right in front of the Duomo is by far the most important place in Ravello. Most of the town's most remarkable happenings and personalities will involve Villa Rufolo. The original structure dates back to the XIII century, but like the rest of the buldings in Ravello it has undergone many modifications and improvements by all who came and owned it for some time. Worthy of mention is Francis Nevill Reid's refurbishment, as he was the one to ultimately give Villa Rufolo the character that makes this villa so peculiar and impressive. The entrance is dominated by two subsequent towers: Torre d'ingresso and Torre Maggiore, the latter leading onto the spectacular garden that so many have spoken and written about. This is Wagner's Klingsore garden where flower-women would appear. The garden has a an unexpected and very wild flora, but most importantly it has a stunning view, which is simply the only of its kind. This is Ravello festival's main venue, where concerts and events are held in this beautiful setting overlooking the sea.
is renowned for its eclectic architecture. Indeed Renaissance clear cut lines mingle with Arab and Byzantine elements and with the wilderness of its very extended surrounding park. The Infinite Terrace is the most remarkable part of the building, a very long belvedere perched on a cliff (hence the name Cimbrone), which is the only one that can remotely compete with Villa Rufolo's view.
This much discussed piece of contemporary architecture was opened on the 29th of January 2010. It is dramatically different from all the other buildings in the Amalfi Coast, and this was the reason for many discussions over how appropriate such project would be in this context. The white dome overlooking the sea, with up to 3200 seats is Ravello's bet for its future as cultural hotspot of the Campania region, allowing Ravello's concert and theatre season to last throughout the year.
Santa Barbara hike
(aka Togliatti hike) Apparently Palmiro Togliatti would take this solitary walk to see the most secret views on the coast as well as passing by some beautiful medieval convents. It starts off from the Clarisse Convent and leads onto the medieval village of Saint Cosma e Damiano walking along the Cimbrone hill. It is also called the poor man's belvedere. But there surely isnothing poor about it!
What to do
July and August Ravello Festival Since 1953 the best Italian and world music comes to Ravello to spend the summer. It runs throughout the months of July and August often extending itself into June and September with minor events. The fame of this event is linked much to the high standards of the shows as well to the spectacular view from Villa Rufolo's terrace where the main events take place. 27th of July San Pantaleone On the 27th of July 305, Saint Pantaleone was beheaded in Nicomedia. On the same date, the fervidly religious locals celebrate the memory of their thaumaturgic Saint with beautiful vespers and a moving exhibition of the statute awaiting for the relic blood of the Saint to turn liquid, which is a sign of prosperity for the year ahead. 18th and 19th of September Festa della Madonna di Torello The celebration of these two days is dedicated to the Madonna dell' Addolorata, however nowadays the religious aspect of this day has been left a bit behind the incredible firework games, and Torello fire, which lights up the whole centre of town with extremely detailed and spectacular games of light, and fire. On these two days there are many concerts and street events celebrating the end of summer. The celebration ends with the procession of the statue to San Cosma e Damiano sanctuary. First week of August Festival della Follia Yes it is the festival of folly. It is a week of XVI century music and period costume parades. Ravello suddenly goes back into the centuries and the architecture really makes one believe that time has not gone by.
07/31/2012 - Ravello misses Gore Vidal.