Positano is located on n the western end of the Amalfi Coast, therefore, it is the first municipality of the Divine...
The inhabited center of Ravello is located about 315 m asl between the valley of the Dragone torrent (Atrani) and the valley of the Reginna Minor torrent (Minori). It is considered a real pearl not only for its position but above all for the splendid scenarios that can be admired as it overlooks the inhabited centers of Minori and Maiori but, in a broader sense, for the panoramic views of the Gulf of Salerno and part of the Amalfi Coast. It is a destination for many tourists because, in addition to the breathtaking views that can be admired and for the artistic and gastronomic beauties, in Ravello you can breathe a unique and peaceful atmosphere making your stay unforgettable.
Unlike most of the other Municipalities of the Amalfi Coast that overlook the sea, the inhabited center of Ravello is located on the hillside but the municipal area extends to the sea thanks to the hamlets of Castiglione and Marmorata. In fact, in Castiglione there is a beach which is considered by many to be the most characteristic of the entire Amalfi Coast.
Ravello is defined as the City of Music because it offers the public numerous shows and events mainly of international relevance organized by the "Ravello Festival" and chamber concerts organized by the "Ravello Concert Society". In the past it has been visited by numerous great artists and all have been enchanted by the beauties so much that some of them have drawn inspiration for their works. First, the composer Richard Wagner who in his work, the Parsifal, imagined the fairy garden of Klingsor in the park of Villa Rufolo. Even the writer Giovanni Boccaccio, in the fourth novel of the second day of the "Decameron", states that the protagonist is a Ravello from Landolfo Rufolo, a nobleman from birth and owner of immense wealth. Among the musicians there are also Toscanini, Grieg and Bernstein, among the painters Mirò and Escher and among the writers DH Lawrence, Forster, Virginia Wolf and Gore Vidal.
HOW TO GET TO RAVELLO
You can get to Ravello along the State Road 163 which starts from Vietri sul Mare until you get to the former State Road 373 after Minori and before arriving in Atrani and continue for another 5 km. From Amalfi just go back on the Strada Statale 163 and always take the ex SS 373 which connects Ravello.
Ravello can also be reached by taking the Chiunzi Pass (Provincial Road 1) to be taken after exiting the A3 Napoli-Salerno highway in Angri.
Even from the hills of Ravello, as well as for all the other municipalities of the Amalfi Coast, spaces have been recovered for agriculture with the formation of the terraces. Thanks to their strategic position and mild climate, the richness of the lands is combined with the influences of the blue sea and the sun, making sure that the products are real delights.
The greatest riches that the terraces of Ravello offer together with those of the entire Amalfi Coast are the typical and unique lemons defined Sfusato Amalfitano: lemons with an oblong and irregular shape and a thick but very fragrant skin.
These lemons are mainly used to make an excellent limoncello with a bright yellow color and a unique flavor thanks to the infusion of the fragrant peels of the Sfusati Amalfitani in pure alcohol. The Sfusati are the basis of many typical sweets and recipes based on fresh fish.
On the hills of Ravello the varieties of Biancolella, Falanghina, Ginestrella, Aglianico and Piedi rosso grapes are also cultivated, from which Ravello DOC wines are obtained, which are highly appreciated all over the world.
According to tradition, Ravello was founded in the 5th century by a group of Roman nobles even if it is assumed that the coastal territory was already inhabited at the time of the Roman Empire.
From the ninth century, the territory of Ravello became an integral part of the Duchy of Amalfi and the prosperity phase began with the birth of new activities related above all to trade towards the East. The population also increased but in the late 1000s the Normans began to support the most important families of Ravello to start fighting against the Amalfi power. In fact, on the initiative of Ruggiero D'Altavilla son of Roberto il Guiscardo, Ravello in 1086 became a bishopric directly dependent on the Holy See and always in contrast with Amalfi. The flourishing period ended towards the twelfth century but there was a revival only with the coming of the Bourbons in the eighteenth century after the Swabian and Angevin dominations. It was right under the domination of the Bourbons that the current State Road 163 was built that connects Vietri to Amalfi thus allowing you to reach Ravello more easily. Thus, began the visit of the numerous artists mentioned above especially in the nineteenth century who were entranced by the unique landscape scenarios that could be admired by divulging the beauties in their works: it was also this popularization that was the architect of the cultural and financial revival of Ravello.
On April 12, 1944, in the Villa Episcope of Ravello, King Vittorio Emanuele III signed the transfer of lieutenancy to his son Umberto II of Savoy with an attached oath of the provisional government based in Salerno. It was the last years of the monarchy before moving on to the Republic since Umberto II was the last king of Italy.
WHAT TO SEE IN RAVELLO
Ravello can be considered a real jewel not only for its unique viewpoints such as the most renowned ones of Villa Rufolo, Villa Cimbrone and the Princess of Piedmont but also for the numerous historical and artistic beauties present in the area as well as gastronomic. Those who arrive in Ravello find a unique atmosphere of a quiet and chic country and that those who visit it certainly cannot wait to return to relive the emotions that only Ravello can offer.
Among the many monuments include:
· The Cathedral
· Villa Rufolo;
· Villa Cimbrone;
· The Auditorium designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer;
· The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie;
· The Church of Santa Maria a Gradillo;
· The Church of San Giovanni del Toro;
· The Church of San Francesco;
· The Church of Santa Chiara;
· The "Camo" coral museum;
• The ancient buildings used as a deposit by the ancient Ravellese families and now transformed into luxury hotel structures such as: the Hotel Caruso; Palazzo Sasso now become Palazzo Avino and Palazzo Confalone become Hotel Palumbo;
· Palazzo Tolla;
· Villa Episcopio;
· Palazzo della Marra.
The Cathedral of Ravello is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and the first Roman architraves still visible on the three doors in the facade were raised in 1086. It was founded on the model of the Abbey of Montecassino and is considered one of the oldest ex-Cathedrals in Italy.
It is a destination for many tourists especially because in the seventeenth-century chapel to the left of the presbytery there is the precious golden silver ampoule containing the relic of the blood of San Pantaleone which is celebrated on July 27, the day when you can observe the miraculous liquefaction of blood. At the center of the chapel there is a valuable painting of 1638 by the painter Gerolamo Imperiali depicting the martyrdom of San Pantaleone. It is said that the precious relic arrived in Ravello as early as 1112.
The Cathedral is a Benedictine-Cassinese basilica made up of three naves divided by a double colonnade, an elevated transept due to the presence of the crypt below and extrados apses.
In the central nave of the Duomo there are two splendid ambos on the right and left respectively.
The ambo on the right called the ambo of the Gospel is the work of Nicola di Bartolomeo da Foggia and was donated by Nicola Rufolo in 1272. The entrance to the internal staircase depicts the portraits of Nicola Rufolo and his wife Sigilgaida; three lions and three lionesses with a thick mane support six twisted columns on which the chest rests. The lettorino consists of an eagle with the inscription "In the beginning erat Verbum" in the claws. The mosaic decoration is made up of polychrome tesserae placed on a lime. In the center of the prospect is depicted the Madonna and Child flanked by the coat of arms of the Rufolo family.
The ambo on the left called the ambo of the epistle was donated by the second Bishop of Ravello in 1130 and depicts the biblical episode of the prophet Jonah swallowed and vomited by the sea monster (Pistrice) which prefigures the death and resurrection of Jesus. the lettorino two peacocks that symbolize eternal life surmount a central niche that refers to the empty sepulcher.
Of particular importance is the central bronze door built by Barisano da Trani in 1179 and donated to the community by the Ravello nobleman Sergio Muscettola. The door is made up of 2 wooden doors with 80 tiles that represent the animal and vegetable world first, then the human one and then get to the top of the representation of some Saints, the Madonna and Jesus. The technique of decorating the tiles is the bas-relief.
The bell tower dates back to the thirteenth century and has two floors, with mullioned windows and intertwined arches.
Inside the Cathedral of Ravello, today, there are also two museums:
In the Crypt of the Cathedral has been set up Opera Museum, which preserves Roman cinerary urns, reliquaries of the early Christian era and ancient stone materials. Of particular importance is the bust of "Sigilgaida Rufolo" also made by Nicola di Bartolomeo da Foggia, the same author of the ambo of the Gospel and the sculpture of "The falconer".
From the left nave of the Cathedral you can access the Pinacoteca of medieval and modern art in which there are numerous paintings made between the 16th and 19th centuries that were previously posted between the suppressed cathedral chapels and in some other neighboring churches. It contains works by: Giovanni Filippo Criscuolo, Giovanni Angelo, Giovanni Antonio D'Amato, Francesco Messina, Carlo Previtali and Valerio Pilon.
A mandatory stop for tourists who come to Ravello is a visit to Villa Rufolo which many consider a unique jewel.
Built in the second half of the 1200s owned by the wealthy Rufolo family, it was subsequently purchased later by the Confalone, Muscettola and D'Afflitto families but in the nineteenth century the then Scottish owner Francis Nevile Reid totally restored the villa making it a true masterpiece.
Currently the management of the Villa is entrusted to the Ravello Foundation which deals with the protection and enhancement of the entire structure also thanks to the organization of events that attract fans from all over the world.
The main access to the villa is from Piazza Vescovado where, through an ogival opening, you enter the entrance tower and, walking along the avenue, you first reach the very ancient Cloister Arab-Norman style with a double order of columns and Arab-Sicilian decorations and then reach the Torre Maggiore which is about 30 meters high and which represented the importance of the Rufolo family. Today the Torre Maggiore is divided into 3 floors which are connected by an internal staircase in carbon steel and tempered crystal in which numerous historical and artistic finds are exhibited and which, thanks to a modern mix of sounds and music, seem to return to reality. Before concluding the visit to the vertical museum, visitors can access the viewpoint of Villa Rufolo from which you can admire the unique panorama of Ravello and part of the Amalfi Coast.
Subsequently you can visit the rooms of the villa consisting of the Sala die Cavalieri, the Dining Room, the Balnea, the Turkish Bath and the Theater. There is a chapel and a well, an area rich in ruins, exotic plants, pines and cypresses and which inspired the German master Richard Wagner by imagining "The magical enchanted garden of Klingsor" in the second act of Parsifal.
Of extraordinary beauty are the two levels of the gardens of Villa Rufolo: the upper garden faces the East and is a real Belvedere for the wonderful panorama that can be admired and also overlooks the lower gardens that constitute the stalls of the Ravello events Festival. Every year, in fact, thanks to the intuition of Paolo Caruso from Ravello, a cantilevered stage is set up on the sea to host only the musicians while the spectators are arranged on the stalls of the gardens. Previously, starting from June 18, 1953, which was the day of the first concert organized at Villa Rufolo and until 1955, the musicians were almost confused with the public as they were arranged on the same audience built on the gardens due to the lack of space.
Every year orchestras, individual artists and international dance bodies perform on the open-air stage of the Ravello Festival and spectators are offered a unique show not only for the event itself but also for the unique panorama. An extraordinary event organized every year by the Ravello Festival is the "Ravello dawn concert" which is defined by many as magical since it passes from the darkness of the night to the light of the day, all accompanied by the notes of the best orchestras that year after year alternate. The "Ravello Dawn Concert" begins late in the day on August 10th and ends in the early hours of August 11th also because August 10th is the night of San Lorenzo and the shooting stars.
Although, especially for outdoor concerts, it may happen that external noises can interfere the perfect performances of the artists, for the concerts of Villa Rufolo, however, the overall satisfaction of hearing and sight always predominates. Gore Vidal, a famous American writer and Ravello lover and lover, said: “Often, when the orchestra plays Wagner, the full moon rises from the mountains whose contours resemble a dragon with its head gently reclined on the beach, towards the east, while the birds of Ravello, musically well-educated after all these years, make the counterpoint from the top of the dark pines".
Another villa to visit for those arriving in Ravello is Villa Cimbrone, a historic building surrounded by a large park adorned with statues, fountains and caves. The paths that cross the gardens lead to the Terrace of infinity: a unique lookout at about 400 meters above sea level overlooking the Gulf of Salerno and part of the Amalfi Coast. Gore Vidal, famous American writer and Ravello lover and lover, said of the Terrace of Infinity: “The most beautiful place I have ever seen in the world is the viewpoint of Villa Cimbrone, on a bright winter day, when the sky and the sea are so vividly blue that it is not possible to distinguish them from each other”.
Today part of the historic building has been destined for a large 5-star luxury hotel.
The building stands on the promontory called Cimbronium on which stood the ruins of a Roman villa which was later transformed into a large farmhouse owned by the noble Acconcia family and subsequently purchased by the Fusco and Amici families. In 1904 the villa was purchased by a noble British banker, Ernest William Beckett who renovated both the building and the large gardens enriching them with numerous neoclassical and Gothic architectural elements.
Thanks to the passionate commitment of the Vuilleumier family, for some decades Villa Cimbrone has regained its ancient relevance both as a historical place and as a botanical garden.
Inside the Villa a plaque with the inscription: "Here, in the spring of 1938, the divine Greta Garbo escaping the hype of Hollywood knew, with Leopold Stokowski, hours of secret happiness".
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