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VISIT RAVELLO

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Ravello

Ravello

Ravello lies on a spur which separates the Valle del Dragone (Dragon Valley) from the Valley of Maiori, and is one of the most attractive places on the Amalfi coast, a jewel of the Sorrento peninsula. Glimpses of the town can be seen from the coast road which twists along the slopes of the hills rising sheer out of the sea. It was not for nothing that Boccaccio put praise of Ravello’s beauty into the mouth of many characters in the Decameron, including Angelo da Ravello. The town was founded around the year 500 by some inhabitants of Rome fleeing the oppression caused by the barbarian invasions. Ravello became prosperous and its flourishing cotton industry already distinguished it at an early stage in its history. From the military point of view became strong enough to fight the mighty Amalfi. One episode of this kind occurred in 1081, when it belonged to the Amalfi Republic. Taking advantage of the absence of Guiscardo the Norman, engaged in an expedition in the East, the people of Amalfi elected a Doge of their own in his place. Ravello, however, did not accept the chance and, faithful to the banner of the Bull, gave the leadership of the town to Duke Ruggeri. Thereupon the people of Amalfi called the town Rebello (rebellious). As a reward for Ravello’s loyalty, and to spite Amalfi, Pope Victor III in Capua made Ravello into a bishopric, subtracting it from Amalfi’s jurisdiction and subjecting it to his own rule. Apart from periods like this, however, Ravello almost always belonged to the Dukedom or Republic of Amalfi, being directly or indirectly affected by its political and economic fortunes. After the sacking of Amalfi by the Pisans in 1137 the town became less populated and started on an inexorable decline. At that time, the population of Ravello appears to have been 36.000 and there were thirteen parish churches and four convents. Social and economic standards were so high that the noble families of the time, like the Rufolos and Boccaccios, preferred it to the other nearby places for their summer holidays. Some of the important sights in this picturesque town are the cathedral of San Pantaleone, founded by Orso Pavicio, Bishop of Ravello, in 1087, and Palazzo Rufolo, built around 1280 by the same noble family who subsidised the construction of the cathedral. In Palazzo Confalone there is a fine 13th- century courtyard. Like all the other important places on the Amalfi coast, Ravello is visited by countless tourists who find beautiful scenery, efficient facilities and that peace and tranquillity which enables Man to re-discover himself.

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Villa Cimbrone

Villa Cimbrone

A cloister in imitation of that of the church of San Francesco is situated to the left of the gate. There are two very important bas-reliefs: one is supposed to represent nine Norman warriors, and the other, opposite the entrance to the cloister, illustrates the seven deadly sins, with a sacred lamb above them. From the cloister some steps lead to the crypt, from which there is a glimpse of the coastline. Half way along the avenue which goes from the gate to the belvedere there is a magnificent garden with a particularly charming little temple surrounded by statues, columns and fountains. At the end of the avenue there is a vaulted temple with Doric arches, enclosing a statue of the goddess Ceres, a symbol of the power of Nature. From the belvedere there is a view of an extensive stretch of the Amalfi coast, with Maiori down in the foreground. A winding path leads to the Temple of Bacchus, set in a long avenue of cypress trees. In the temple is the bronze statue of a satyr holding the baby Bacchus with his usual bunch of grapes. Another path leads down from the cupress-lined avenue to a small open space, in a corner of which, half concealed by exuberant vegetation, reposes the white marble statue of a naked Venus, gentle and dreamy.

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Villa Rufolo

Garden of Villa Rufolo

The gate to Villa Rufolo is in Piazza Vescovado and is conspicuous because it is connected to a quadrangular Moorish tower flanked by cypress trees. On the right of the avenue is the famous Moorish cloister, and at the top of some steps on the left there is a splendid garden. At the left of that garden is the Greater Tower (Torre Maggiore), also known as Klingsor’s Castle, which is about thirty metres hight. On the right of the Torre Maggiore, the enormous variety of flowers and plants provides a striking interplay of scent and colour. From the belvedere you have a great view of the characteristic coast-line and of the two Moorish cupolas of the church of the Annunziata, founded in 1281.

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