Beauty comes naturally to Ravello, just like its love of art and music.
Ravello (Campanian: Raviello, Reviello) is a town and comune situated above the Amalfi Coast in the province of Salerno, Campania, southern Italy, with approximately 2,500 inhabitants. Its scenic location makes it a popular tourist destination, and earned it a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
For centuries, the irresistible allure of Ravello’s stately villas and cliff edge gardens have been attracting the world’s greatest artists to the tiny town perched high above the bay of Maiori: musicians such as Wagner, Grieg, Rostropovich, Toscanini, Bernstein; painters like Escher, Turner and Mirò; and writers the caliber of D.H Lawrence, Forster and Virginia Wolf all spent time here.
Now, a well established cultural hotspot, today Ravello hosts high profile events such as the Ravello Festival and the Chamber Music Festival, which is organized by the Ravello Concert Society.
See these wonderful websites:
How to get to Ravello:
Unlike the majority of towns on the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is not located by the sea. To get to this beautiful cliff top town you’ll need to leave the SS163 between Amalfi and Minori, and head in and upland for about 3 kilometers.
Alternatively, you can reach Ravello by making your way down the Chiunzi pass (which you can access from the A3 motorway, exiting at Angri). Unlike the majority of towns on the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is not located by the sea. To get to this beautiful clifftop town you’ll need to leave the SS163 between Amalfi and Minori, and head in and upland for about 3 kilometers.
Author: Robert Walker
Robert Walker, a lawyer, economist, and consultant who has worked in Washington, D.C. for over 30 years, is the author of Discovering Ravello, a short booklet on the history and attractions of Ravello. He and his wife, Chris Apel, first visited Ravello nearly 25 years ago, and have been frequent visitors ever since. His wife is an award-winning artist who recently created a website (www.discoveringravello.com) to showcase her paintings of Ravello. He and his wife both lecture on Ravello. They live in Alexandria, Virginia.
From Discovering Ravello
Richly illustrated by Chris Apel, Discovering Ravello, offers a brief history of, and an introduction to, this famed medieval hilltown. Written by her husband, Robert Walker, the 33-page booklet tells the story of how Ravello has enchanted and inspired famed musicians, artists, actors and writers from around the world. Learn how Ravello inspired Wagner to compose the second act of the opera Parsifal, or how Ravello’s influence transformed M.C. Escher into one of the most widely-known artists of the 20th century. Discover why the names of great writers like D.H. Lawrence, Andre Gide, E.M. Forster, and Gore Vidal will always be associated with Ravello. Read about the Villa Cimbrone and the ‘elopement’ of famed actress Greta Garbo and Leopold Stokowski, the composer of Fantasia. Find out why Gore Vidal lived in Ravello for three decades or why Jackie Kennedy chose Ravello as her summer escape in 1962. Enjoy the story of Beat the Devil, a classic movie filmed in Ravello in 1953 that starred Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones, Robert Morley, and Peter Lorre.
Discovering Ravello also provides the reader with a guided tour of the town, and an introduction to its hidden secrets and special attractions. Learn about the wines, the chefs, and the Neapolitan cuisine that make Ravello a special dining experience. Find out why Ravello is internationally known today as la citta della musica, the city of music.
Discovering Ravello, is a special tribute to one of the world’s most inspirational places. Priced at $18.00, includes shipping within the continental USA, for international shipping, please contact the artist. Purchasers of any original painting or giclee print from this website, however, are entitled to a complimentary copy of the booklet. To order a copy of the booklet, feel free to contact us.
Explore the wonderful website: www.discoveringravello.com
The introduction to the website says:
Have you ever found that one magical place where your spirit soars and the world takes on a fresh new dimension? I have. It’s called Ravello. It has given me more inspiration than any other place I have ever lived or visited. It’s my artistic home, and that’s why I try to return there every year for an extended stay. It’s also why I take such delight in sharing it with others…”
Sitting high above the Mediterranean Sea on the Amalfi Coast, just south of Naples, Ravello, Italy, is an artistic wonder. It may not have art galleries or museums, but its villas and vistas have provided ample inspiration to composers, like Richard Wagner and Edvard Grieg, authors like Andre Gide and D.H. Lawrence, and painters like Joan MIro and M.C. Esher.
Why has Ravello, a small town perched on a craggy mountaintop, attracted and inspired so many? Is it the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coastline? Is it the manicured gardens of its villas? Is it the harmonious mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Moorish architecture? Is it the winding paths and the hidden grottoes? Or is it something else entirely? Gore Vidal said that Ravello exerted “a magical influence” on visitors. He credited “the intense green, the transparent blue, the grey of the travertine stone, and the stupendous atmosphere” of Ravello for inspiring D.H.Lawrence, Andre Gide, Richard Wagner and other notables.
For award-winning artist Chris Apel, Ravello is all that and more. It’s a marvelous interplay of natural and man-made beauty, of light and shadow, just waiting to be caught on canvas. Where else in the world can you find such an inspiring blend of architectural forms and breathtaking vistas? Filled with vibrant colors, sharp contrasts, unique subject matter, and breathtaking perspectives, Ravello is every artist’s dream.
Inspired by Ravello, Chris Apel shares that inspiration with others through her art.
Terrace of Infinity
The villa’s belvedere, Terrazza dell’ Infinito (Terrace of Infinity), is lined by a series of marble busts that on clear days sparkle against the blue sky above and the azure waters of the Mediterranean below.
Sitting high atop a promontory that offers stunning views of the Mediterranean and the dramatic coastline below, the Villa Cimbrone is the crown laurel of Ravello.
Its origins date back to the 11th century, but the villa and the gardens were extensively renovated by a British nobleman, Lord Grimthorpe, in the early 20th century.
History of Ravello
Little is known about the earliest inhabitants of the hills and promontory that now form the town of Ravello. High above the Mediterranean and cut off from the rest of Italy by the surrounding mountains and ravines, it would have been difficult to scratch out a living in such harsh and hilly terrain.
When the ancient Greeks first landed in this area about 2,600 years ago, they chose to settle roughly 70 kilometers south of Ravello and founded the town of Poseidonia, now known as Paestum, and there they constructed three temples that yet stand as an enduring tribute to Greek civilization.
But the earliest known inhabitants of Ravello and the neighboring towns were Romans. In the 1st century A.D., possibly after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 67 A.D., a large Roman villa was built on the shores of present-day Minori, just a few kilometers east of Ravello.
Entry into Villa Cimbrone.
Villa Cimbrone is a historic building in Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast of southern Italy. Dating from at least the 11th century AD, it is famous for its scenic belvedere, the Terrazzo dell’lnfinito (Terrace of Infinity).
Much altered and extended in the early twentieth century by Ernest William Beckett (later Lord Grimthorpe), the villa is today composed of many salvaged architectural elements from other parts of Italy and elsewhere; little of the original structure remains visible.
The big formal garden with the clipped path hedges conveys the message that the inhabitants of this house like punctuality and organisation.
The lower storey of Villa Cimbrone with big sturdy stone columns.
The hand – madeness of this section of the building is very apparent in the recessed door position, the handmade stone stairs and the handmade timber door. Harriet and I like the whimsical handmade things vs. mechanical machine-built things. That is why we could hours wandering around Ravello. There was so much to see.
An open garden of grass and several palm trees edged in by a creepered wall, gives a strong feeling of a big garden room you could sit and enjoy a time of solitude, if you took your own seat.
We had barely entered the town when we saw donkeys being used to go to some place in Ravello. It really demonstrated what it would have been like back in the 16th Century when this town was functioning then.
Brick columns being used to support a trellis of branches to create a very pleasant walking avenue of an edible vine. Trellises were commonly used in the gardens round Ravello. See the two photos below.
A trellis of branches in detail is used to grow a vine producing edible fruit. The use of trellises of branches is commonly used in the hillside gardens in Ravello as shown in the photo below.
This section of the big formal garden with the clipped path hedges, again conveys the message that the inhabitants of this house like punctuality and organisation.
This section of the big formal garden shows again conveys the message that the inhabitants of this house like punctuality and organisation. The walls around the garden and the brick edged garden beds help convey this formality. The garden beds are fallow in between planting them with seasonal flowers which are so common around Ravello. See the photo below of the seasonal flowers we saw later at Principessa di Piemonte.
Harriet, my wife exploring one the exits from the big formal garden.
Looking across the big open grassed area to the Principessa di Piemonte …. the next place we are going to explore.
A closeup section of the Principessa di Piemonte.
A majestic avenue with a very extensive trellis going hundreds of metres down to the end. The creepers on the right-hand side wall as well the creepers on the columns on left-hand side of the avenue give a beckoning call to investigate and explore the full length of the avenue.
Another short trellised avenue gives the garden explorer a beckoning nudge.
Statua di Ceres (Statue of Ceres), which is located in a small temple immediately adjacent to the belvedere.
Principessa di Piemonte:
A belvedere /ˈbɛlvɪdɪər/ or belvidere (from Italian for “fair view”) is an architectural structure sited to take advantage of a fine or scenic view. While a belvedere may be built in the upper part of a building the actual structure can be of any form, whether a turret, a cupola, or an open gallery. Or it may be a separate pavilion in a garden, or the term may be used for a paved terrace with a good viewpoint, but no actual building.
On the hillside above the Vatican Palace, Antonio Pollaiuolo built a small pavilion (casino in Italian) named the palazzetto or the Belvedere for Pope Innocent VIII. Some years later Donato Bramante linked the Vatican with the Belvedere, under a commission from Pope Julius II by creating the Cortile del Belvedere (“Courtyard of the Belvedere”), in which stood the Apollo Belvedere, among the most famous of antique sculptures. This began the fashion in the 16th century for the belvedere.
From this website:
The Amalfi Coast is made of twists and turns with hidden away staircases, unexpected vistas out to the sea and beautiful spots to discover. If you’re the sort of traveler who likes to wander and explore, this is the place for you! Ravello has two famous villas with gardens you can visit—the Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone—but there are many other lovely spots to discover if you head out to explore the town. Strolling along Via San Giovanni del Toro just past the entrances to the luxe Hotel Caruso and the Palazzo Avino you will spot an arched stone entrance dripping with vines. Peek through the arch to catch just a glimpse of the view and it’s impossible not to walk in to explore the little Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte.
Two delightful waterfalls in the garden. They make delightful splashing sounds in the wonderful garden.
The coffee area overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Big terracotta pots of flowers adorn the coffee area.
One of the many gardens around Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte.
The small grassy garden is shaded with beautiful trees and planted with seasonal flowers. This is a very popular spot for weddings in Ravello since the city hall is just a short stroll away. There are some very well placed benches where you can sit and relax while enjoying the view. “Belvedere” means “beautiful view” – and that’s most definitely what you’ll find here!
One side of the Belvedere Principessa di Piemonte showing pink smooth walls. The white umbrellas are a sharp contrast to the pink smooth walls. A further sharp contrast is in the grey indented stonework of the stone wall below. A sunken open lounging platform extends from the base of the stone wall.
Another delightful waterfall in the sunken open lounging platform. It would make delightful splashing sounds in the lounging platform.
A formal gothic entry to one section of the building.
A set of stairs leads to another door.
A nice sitting out area beneath a branched trellis with a creeper like bougainvillea starting to grow over the trellis. The area looks out over the Mediterranean Sea.
There are so many nooks and crannies around Ravello to be found and experienced and enjoyed.
An ancient church, the Ravello Duomo Cathedral with a great display of flowers at the entry to the church. The “Duomo”, erected in 1086, dominates Piazza del Vescovado with its splendid, triple-arched marble portal and magnificent bronze door created in 1179 by Parisano da Trani.
Ornate 13th century pulpit held aloft by six spiral columns.
There no roads through Ravello. There is no car traffic and people walk everywhere. This alleyway is a pedestrians delight.
A tower block rises out of the town.
Ruins of an ancient building gives a mystique to Ravello.
My wife Harriet outside an ancient building labelled ‘Municipio’
A flower bed of plants like pansies that have just come into flower at the time we were there.
This is an 11th-century town ….. here the remains of a columned wall of stone arches.
A long stone-paved alleyway with a stone wall on the left – hand side and smooth rendered pink walls on the right – hand side. The building would have been built of stone then rendered over with a pink render.
Looking down into the raised stonewalls of the steep hillside gardens of distant Ravello. The next few photos show the same thing.
Even though there are many beautiful pedestrian alleyways in Ravello, this photo shows the presence of access roads through Ravello. A distant bus is shown on the road.
The car as a 20th invention is a strong contrast to the ancient stone arch and the ancient building.
The car, the ancient stone arch and the ancient building in overall context.
A big stone-paved courtyard with some old-style columns and arches and a big hand-made door. Just beautiful !!
The old style columns and arches in closer detail.
This alleyway is a pedestrians delight …. no cars !!
A villa is a rural or suburban residence of a wealthy person
The two photos above and below show Ravello as a hillside town beside the Mediterranean Sea.
The building above and the stonewall below show the ancient town that began in the 11th century.
Harriet, my wife at a Ravello store set up in an ancient building with stone wall and terracotta clay tile roof.
A portion of ruined stone wall.
An access road with some cars parked !! … a very rare sight. An alleyway leads up between the buildings.
Up in the beginning of this alleyway, big terracotta pots of plants give a soft feel to the smooth straight walls of the buildings.
Horizontal hillside gardens of this hillside town of Ravello are very apparent in the photo above and below.
Horizontal hillside gardens of this hillside town of Ravello are very apparent in the photo above.
Two buses are parked on the main access road into the town ….. a rare sighting Ravello.
The main access road into Ravello that winds up to the parked cars.
Two hillside gardens with sturdy timber trellis built from branches.
A tall beautiful built stone tower that has a generous stone arch that provides an alleyway to enter or exit the main access road.
A main front door in wood with a nice setout pattern. Potted plants in terracotta pots provide a soft and interesting entry into the home.
An alleyway leads downwards with a very high stone wall on the left-hand side of the alleyway and a tall building on the right-hand side. There is mystique here in many of the alleyways in Ravello ….. you want to explore further. As we travelled extensively through, we came to realise that makes Ravello, is Ravello mystique.
One of the many alleyway in Ravello. This alleyway is again a pedestrians delight.
A villa in Italy refers to the rural or suburban residence of a wealthy person.
A hillside garden beside the path we were on.
These two photos above and below, show how Ravello faces the Mediterranean sea.
Ken & Harriet Aitken beside one of the marble busts on the Villa Cimbrone’s belvedere.
The grey indented stonework of the stone wall extends and beckons you to explore the Ravello mystique that leads to a tunnel under the stone wall.