Italy is a special country where almost every corner is able to fall in love with itself at first sight and for life. But there is one place that captivated the hearts of many prominent creative personalities - this is the small town of Ravello, which is sheltered in the mountains of the Italian province of Salerno, halfway between the sea and the sky.
Artists Joan Miro and William Turner, actresses Sophia Loren and Greta Garbo, composer Edward Grieg, writers of Tennessee Williams, David Lawrence and Gore Vidal - the list of illustrious names that always attracted this place like a magnet can go on and on. We decided to introduce you closer to this, without exaggeration, a paradise called Ravello and its attractions, as well as talk about how to organize your vacation in this amazing town of the Amalfi coast.
The story of the heyday and decline of the town of Ravello in Italy
The first settlement on the site of the current Ravello was founded in the 5th century. the Romans. The colonists did not accidentally choose this place. During the sunset of the Western Roman Empire, the aristocracy strove for a quiet and peaceful life, and the place of the new settlement was inaccessible to the barbarians sailing by sea, who raided the cities of the Empire with enviable regularity.
A few centuries later, in the IX century. AD the heyday of Ravello began. Then the city was part of the Principality of Salerno and the Amalfi Sea Republic, but at the same time had a special, independent status. The city grew and expanded continuously, gaining ever greater significance and importance. In 1086, the bishops made Ravello their residence, and by the 12th century. the city’s population reached a record 25 thousand inhabitants in its history.
In its history, Ravello experienced periods of prosperity and decline.
The formation of the modern look of the city dates back to this time. The rich and noble people invited the most famous Arab architects to the building. So there were luxurious palaces in oriental style, serving as villas of local nobility.
But, as has always happened in the history of almost any city or state, Ravello's heyday in Italy gave way to decline. After the city was actually destroyed by the Pisans in the middle of the 12th century, 90% of its population left the mortally wounded commune. Most of the inhabitants moved to Naples, and since then Ravello has not been able to restore its former greatness. For many centuries, the population decreased by 10 times (to 2500 people), and remains so to this day.
Attractions and attractions in Ravello
Like almost the rest of Italy, Ravello is famous for its amazing examples of ancient architecture. The history and specifics of the development, heyday and decline of the town are firmly imprinted in the architectural ensemble. There are mixed styles of Arab, Byzantine, Norman and Lombard cultures. Especially popular attractions of Ravello are numerous medieval villas and churches.
Ravello is literally awash with vivid examples of ancient architecture, but in the center of all this splendor is Villa Rufolo built in the 13th century. - the most picturesque villa Ravello and part-time the main symbol of the city.
Villa Rufolo has long been a distinctive symbol of the city
You can get to the villa from the side of Piazza Vescovado. To the right of the entrance is the Moorish gallery - it is worth a look first. The central building and the rest of the buildings are surrounded by dazzling beauty gardens that seem to soar above the Amalfi coast. At one time they struck the greatest Wagner to the core. Torre Maggiore rises above the park - a Moorish-style tower 30 meters high.
The main attraction of Villa Rufolo in Ravello - luxurious gardens
Another symbol of the city that is described in any guidebook is Villa Cimbrone. It is located very close to Villa Rufolo, but in itself is much younger. Built in the XIX century. on the initiative of the English lord, Villa Cimbrone very harmoniously entered Ravello's architectural composition through a combination of Romanesque and Arabic styles.
Another "piece of paradise" in Ravello - Villa Cimbrone immersed in greenery
Here you are also waiting for indescribable beauty gardens with endless alleys, where you can walk for hours. The culmination of the walk will be the "Terrace of Infinity" - from the contemplation of the panorama that opens from the terrace, even the most experienced travelers have a sinking heart.
St. Panteleimon Cathedral
Another must-see place in Ravello is the Cathedral of St. Panteleimon. The building of the cathedral is located on the central square of the city and bears the name of the patron saint of the commune.
The cathedral of St. Panteleimon attracts the attention of tourists and numerous pilgrims
The cathedral was built in 1068 by order of one of the bishops who had settled in Ravello at that time. A century later, bronze gates made in Constantinople were added to its architectural appearance. On 54 parts of the gate are the faces of the saints, vultures, lions and scenes of the torment of Christ.
The "internal" attraction of the cathedral is the capsule with the blood of the Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon. Every year, during the patronal feast, on July 27, caked blood in the capsule becomes liquid for one day. This regular event attracts a lot of pilgrims to Ravello, which, in general, is not surprising.
Church of San Giovanni del Toro
Anyone who is not indifferent to medieval architecture while staying in Ravello in Italy should definitely look into the church of San Giovanni del Toro. The building was built in the 13th century. located on Mount Toro, which gave the name of the church.
The treasures of the seemingly unremarkable church of San Giovanni del Toro are kept inside
The vaults of the church are a separate work of art thanks to stunning frescoes with scenes of the most significant biblical events. The famous Gospel pulpit once again recalls how significant the influence of Arab culture on the appearance of Ravello turned out to be.
I must say that with its more than modest size, Ravello is a real city of churches. The churches of St. Francis, the Holy Virgin Annunziata, St. Martin, St. Chiara - there are about a hundred of them in the city!
Still, if you are in Ravello, look at the Episcopal villa, the monastery of St. Tryphon and the palace of d'Aflito. Actually, Ravello has sights at every turn, and the town is really small, so you can easily get around it all in one day.
Ceramics without exaggeration can be called another attraction of Ravello. Ceramics have been produced in the city since antiquity and over the course of several centuries have achieved a certain skill.
Ceramics - Ravello's main souvenir, they can be found everywhere
Pottery can be found everywhere: decorations and signboards on houses, pedestrian signs are laid out in small mosaics, you can find ceramic tiles and utensils in any souvenir shop. Most often, these small plates, which are an integral souvenir of Ravello, are decorated with juicy yellow lemons with saturated greens around. Still, the urban landscape leaves its mark.
Ravello - the city of music
For more than 40 years, from year to year in the Italian Ravello, in the territory of Villa Rufolo, the International Open-Air Music Festival has been held during the summer. This is a very significant event on a global scale related to the names of legendary composers and performers. The festival is so strongly associated with the city that it can be confidently considered a peculiar landmark of Ravello.
The idea of holding the festival is rooted in the past when Richard Wagner often came to Ravello. In the dazzling beauty of the gardens of Villa Rufolo, the great composer sought inspiration. And he found - it was here that the opera Parsifal was written.
On the 70th anniversary of the death of Wagner, a concert was held here for the first time in memory of the famous creator. Then, thanks to the efforts of Girolamo Botillieri and Paolo Caruso, the musical event became an annual event and quickly gained worldwide significance. Every summer there are brilliant masterpieces performed by the best musicians of the world.
How to get to Ravello
To get to Ravello, as well as other resort towns of the Amalfi coast, the easiest way is from Naples, where the nearest international airport is located.
Then you will have to travel 65 km by bus or transfer: train + bus, bus + ferry, train + ferry. Ravello is just 13 km from Amalfi. In a previous post about the town of Amalfi, we talked in detail about all the possible ways to get there. The path to Ravello will be identical. We recommend that you study this material.
The road along the coast is very picturesque. Beyond every turn of the mountain serpentine, breathtaking panoramas open onto the cliff-ridden coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
You can also make a trip from Rome, though the path will not be close. The distance between cities is 280 km. From Rome, the easiest way is to get to Salerno by train (from Termini station comfortable high-speed trains Frecciabianca and Frecciarossa, tickets for which can be found here), and from Salerno to Ravello and other resorts of the coast can be reached by the SITA Sud bus, which we already mentioned here.
Above, we talked about the villas of Ravello, as about the bright sights of the city. You will be surprised, but you can even live in many of these attractions! Most of the palaces and villas of Ravello survived, despite all the vicissitudes of fate, and was subsequently converted into fashionable hotels.
The best hotel villas are the five-star Hotel Palazzo Sasso (now Palazzo Avino) and Belmond hotel Caruso. Even in Villa Cimbrone, some of the rooms are allocated for a chic five-star hotel. And very close to the stunning gardens of Villa Rufolo is the four-star hotel of the same name.
By the way, world famous celebrities often stop at Palazzo Sasso, as the hotel is considered one of the best in all of Italy.
In addition to luxury accommodation options, Ravello has plenty of places to stay with a much more modest budget, including the bed-and-breakfast format. You can find the best housing at the link below.
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