Ravello must be one of the most over-looked and under rated locations along the Amalfi Coast. It is located higher up above the sea (at 1200 feet above sea level) between Amalfi to the west and Maiori to the east. It’s location above is what gives it its spectacular views. Ravello is just enough off the beaten track to make it more local than touristy, yet the Villa Rufolo has one of the best views available anywhere along the Amalfi coast, people have written about it and painted the views from Ravello for centuries. The village is small and this is what adds to its magic. Its houses and streets cling to its ravine and the promontory, there is a small square (Piazza Centrale) and Duomo and a range of restaurants with outdoor terraces that provide a romantic setting for an evening meal with a view. The village is easy to explore on foot.
Ravello’s history is interesting, it only has about 3000 inhabitants today, but is believed prior to a plague that swept the region in 1656 to have had estimates as high as 20,000-30,000 people living there. Its origins are thought to have been the site of a settlement of a Roman colony fleeing from the barbarian invasions (Vandals), Ravello eventually became the desired refuge of a group of noble families from Amalfi who had rebelled against the authority of the Doge in the 9th century. The town prospered, and soon became a center of production of woolen cloth called Celendra. The town’s past wealth and prominence is evident in that the church was appointed a Bishop and was a Cathedral. Two fortifications once existed but Pisan forces destroyed them along with much of the town in a three day period in 1137, except for the ruins of the Basilica of Sant’Eustachio which still stand. Fortunately the Duomo and villas for which Ravello is famous for survived and can be visited today. The town has become known as “la città della musica“, city of music, with the Villa Rufolo hosting an annual summer concert series that features piano concerts and chamber music on a stage built with a backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.