From Amalfi a winding road ascends seven kilometres up the Dragon’s Valley to the hill town ofRavello. Located on the small escarpment of Monte Lattari, it is set amidst vast semi-tropical gardens and overlooks, from 350 metres, the coast south towards the Gulf of Salerno, and the town of Amalfi directly below.
It is no wonder then, that this town, with its head in the clouds and its clear, sunny climate, has appealed for centuries to writers, artists, musicians, travellers… and dreamers! Boccaccio, D. H. Lawrence and Wagner are among the greats who succumbed to the spell of Ravello. Wagner partly composed his opera Parsifal here, and today author Gore Vidal lives and derives inspiration from this charming town.
Chamber Musik on the Amalfi Coast – Ravello
Built in the thirteenth century as a Convent of the Order of St. Augustine, its paved balconies and weathered stone walls crystallize an ambience which is ageless. It is easy to conjure images of medieval life in this town as you stroll through its intriguing alleys, stairways and roofed passages to find yourself at Villa Rufolo.
Beautiful gardens with views across the mountains and the Coast below, surround this home of the powerful medieval family of that name. It is a magnificent building; its Moorish cloisters beckoning from an avenue shaded by ancient trees. The extensive gardens of exotic plants and brilliantly coloured flowers frame vistas of the water far below. Here, each Spring a Wagnerian festival is held at sunset; there, suspended high above the cerulean sea and the coastline, the composer is commemorated, and so too is the inspiration he derived from his love of Ravello.
The charms of Ravello also captivated an Englishman, Lord Grimthorpe, who built the Villa Cimbrone early this century with the help of his valet, Nicola Mansi, a native of Ravello. Together they transformed an ancient villa, enriching it with antiques, paintings and relics collected from all over Italy. Today the gardens of Cibrone are a mediterranean sanctuary. Tall cypresses reach heavenward, the fragrance of massed roses fills the air; pathways lead us to statues of Roman gods. Along the Avenue of Immensity huge pink oleanders line the way to the Belvedere posed on the cliff’s edge. From this little building you can pause to take in the unforgettable views from here across the Infinite Terrace to the sea and sky beyond, and recall the words of Omar Khayam which are carved above a stone seat in the rose garden at Villa Cimbrone:
Ah moon of my delight that knows no wane
The moon of heaven is rising once again
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same garden after us in vain.