Ravello, Italy

Perched high in the hills, Ravello, Italy, affords breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. The popular destination has a population of 2,500 and attracts visitors with its gardens, cathedral and rich architecture. The Ravello Festival, created in 1953 as a celebration of Richard Wagner, lives on as a local music and art festival. The weather is best in spring and fall, though the town boasts a mild winter climate. Summers can be hot and humid.

Ravello dates back to the sixth century, when Roman colonies sought the area’s high ground to defend themselves against barbarians. The coastal location was advantageous for trade, and a strong wool industry created more wealth. By the 12th century, Ravello’s population had grown to 25,000, and its noble families built a number of impressive villas. In 1337, the town was attacked by the Republic of Pisa, depriving citizens of political power and independence. Many moved to Naples and the surrounding areas.

The first stop for visitors is often the Duomo, or town cathedral, which dominates the town piazza. The cathedral was rebuilt in the 12th and 17th centuries, and it still shows traces of medieval frescoes. The bronze door dates from the 12th century and is made of 54 intricately decorated panels. The cathedral’s treasures include Roman sarcophagi and paintings by renowned Renaissance artist Andrea da Salerno.

Across from the Duomo stands the Villa Rufolo, said to be built by Landolfo Rufolo in the 13th century. Today the villa serves as the site of the Ravello Festival. The villa mixes Norman and Arab architecture with magnificent gardens of cycads and palms. Visitors may take night tours, complete with classical music and poetry readings.

Many regard the Villa Cimbrone as the most beautiful hotel and public garden on the coast of Amalfi. The villa was built in the 11th century, and then passed from one powerful family to another. A British baron purchased and restored the villa in 1904. Famous admirers include Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Winston Churchill and D.H. Lawrence.

Those interested in shopping will find an abundance of outdoor markets and small boutiques offering handcrafted items. Bargaining is not uncommon, so visitors should haggle a bit before buying. Many visitors buy locally made ceramics and traditional religious items.

Accommodation in Ravello ranges from small family-run establishments to luxurious five-star hotels. Bed and breakfast lodgings are common, while some people choose to rent apartments. Fresh locally grown food can be found in many restaurants. Seafood is abundant, as is reasonably priced local wine.

The closest international airport is in Naples. From there, Ravello can be reached by rental car, bus or ferry. Visitors should note limitations on ferry service during winter months. Cars are not allowed in Ravello proper, and parking outside the town is limited.


Amalfi Coast, Italy




Naples Airport

Amalfi Coast













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