THE CITY OF CALMNESS AND ITS VILLAS
The city of Ravello is not located directly on the sea but visiting it you will come across its splendid villas with panoramic terraces, which offer breathtaking views from where, looking at the horizon, the blue of the sky merges with the turquoise sea.
by Annalisa Russo
Once on the Amalfi Coast, you can not fail to spend a day of your holiday visiting Ravello. I am sure you will fall in love with it right away.
As soon as I got to this secret and peaceful corner of the Costiera I was flooded with a feeling of immense calmness.
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The gardens of Villa Rufolo
Gore Vidal and his "buen retiro"
Not everyone knows that a lot of writers, intellectuals, and notorious people from all over the world have come to Ravello looking to relax and in order to take inspiration to compose their works. One of them was Gore Vidal, an American writer and screenwriter, who bought Villa La Rondinaia in 1972 where he retired for about 33 years. I highly recommend you to stop over: this villa is one of the most picturesque in Ravello. It makes you wonder how they managed to build it in such a magical place, set in the rock overlooking the sea with such a suggestive result. It looks like a swallow's nest suspended hundreds of meters above the sea.
Today Villa La Rondinaia has become a luxury residence and cannot be visited, but you can definitely stop by and take some shots, it's worth stopping by!
Villa Rufolo: the stage overlooking the sea
Ravello is also famous for a large number of incredibly thrilling and moving cultural events. The Ravello Festival, a historic event that is organized in the magnificent location of Villa Rufolo, dedicated to the well-known German composer’s music, Richard Wagner, is the most known.
This Villa is located right next to the Duomo. Once there, you will feel like you are entering an open-air theater, where it is easy to perceive the vibrations of the music that resonate during the festival. As long as the event lasts, the villa is enriched with literature, cinema, and classical music. You cannot help but imagine the grandeur of the orchestras that perform on a platform overlooking the sea!
The peculiarity of Villa Rufolo is perceived as soon as you get there. The entrance to the Villa is through a fourteenth-century tower which, with its crossed arches and the four statues symbolizing the seasons, looks like a secret passage to another dimension. From here you enter a three-story building, with a barrel-vaulted chapel and a large hall. On the left, there is the Torre- Museo and next to it the Sala dei Cavalieri, dating back to medieval times. On the right, instead, the famous Chiosco Moresco stands out. The garden surrounding the place is distinguished by the presence of fragrant flowers, fountains, and luxuriant vines, making it like an enchanted place frozen in time and so far from the chaos of the city and everyday stress. Even Wagner was surprised by this wonder and after visiting the villa and its garden, on May 26, 1880, he claimed to have found the real enchanted garden of Klingsor, referring to his work Parsifal.
A visit to the Torre-Museo is another experience you cannot miss. Lose yourself in the suggestive atmosphere among statues, music, and sounds that elegantly echo through the glass staircase, acting as a sounding board. At this point, do not get scared of the 100 steps you will find in front of you, because the effort will surely be rewarded once you reach the top! You will find access to a terrace with a sublime view of both mountains and sea, which will definitely place Ravello in a special spot of your heart.
The infinity of Villa Cimbrone
Once back to the city center, I suggest you take the unique via San Francesco where you will come across the monastery and its cloister, where exhibitions are often set up. From here it is easy to get to Villa Cimbrone, and its geometric garden created by William Beckett in the early 1900s. Today this Villa has become a luxurious five-star hotel. Despite that, the garden and the Chiostro can still be visited, beautifully enriched with decorative elements such as the Seven Sins and the Nine Norman Warriors. Besides, do not forget to have a look at the Cripta Gotica and the tile realized by Luca della Robbia, a famous classical artist: it is really something!
The gardens are very large and their avenues, adorned with colorful hydrangeas, statues, pines, and exotic plants are hard to forget. They also host the statue of Cerere, surrounded by some eighteenth-century busts, which welcomed me in the notorious Terrazza dell’Infinito (in English Terrace of Infinity). The very suggestive name already makes you think about the vastness of what you will find in front of you: a natural panoramic viewpoint over the Gulf of Salerno, where the blue sky merges with the blue sea. Once on the terrace, take a moment to admire such a charming beauty and, why not, take some pictures of this unique and magnificent landscape!
Before you leave, if you have some time left, go find these small works scattered around the garden: the reproduction of David; the Tempietto di Bacco, with the statue of the satyr holding Bacchus; the Grotta di Eva; the Terrazza delle Rose; the Stanza del Tè.
Finally, treat yourself to a typical Italian aperitivo with tasty local products, and enjoy the sight of a beautiful sunset over the sea! Actually, this would be already enough to fall in love with Ravello!
- Villa Rufolo is mentioned in “Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio, a famous italian writer “il palagio con bello e gran cortile nel mezzo e con logge e sale e con giardini meravigliosi”.
- Villa Cimbrone’s garden, redesigned at the beginning of the '900 thanks to the valuable contribution of the English botanist Vita Sackville West, are still considered among the most important examples that the Anglo-Saxon landscape and botany culture has generated in the south of Europe. They are open to the public every day of the year, from 09:00 AM until sunset.
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