Where Artists Go to Find Their Muses: Ravello, Italy
There is something quietly captivating about this tiny forgotten town on the Amalfi coast in Italy. Ravello sits on a cliffy hilltop that overlooks the Mediterranean. It’s a charming refuge that has enticed actors, authors, composers, and artists for centuries. Here’s where to find your muse in Ravello:
Get your bearings in the Villa Rufolo gardens
Ravello is no stranger to tranquility. With less than three thousand occupants, it coasts through the days with a quiet yet vibrant energy and a gentle beauty. Villa Rufolo, located in the historic centre of town, is one of the most peaceful spots, and one of the most historic. The building originally dates from the 13th century, and the spectacular view from the gardens is unmatched. Following a visit in 1880, composer Richard Wagner so fell in love with the beauty of the place that he used it as the setting for the garden of Klingsor in his opera Parsifal. The modern Ravello still hints at its past with every ancient stone path and historic building.
Small though it may be, the town is steeped in legends of centuries past. One legend holds that when the devil wanted to tempt Christ with the wonders of the world, he took him to Ravello. Another legend of buried treasure drove some of the townspeople so mad that they sacrificed a two-year-old boy allegedly at the command of spirits who had promised to reveal the treasure’s location. The irresistible allure of the town lives on; it’s a place to suspend your belief and indulge in your imagination.
Follow your nose through the picturesque streets
A visit to Ravello wouldn’t be complete without partaking in the unique flavours and preparations of the local food. Almost everything is produced locally, coming either from the Mediterranean Sea or the fertility of the surrounding hills. The classic Neapolitan cuisine is exactly as rich and satisfying as you could imagine it to be—from the succulent cuts of lamb to the piquant olives, every dish is prepared in a way that exudes simplicity and perfection. The regional wines are famous for their unique flavours and some Ravello grapes date back as far as the Romans.
Get into the vibe at the outdoor music stage
Consider this—in the past 700 years, saints, kings, composers, artists, musicians, actors and writers have come to understand the beauty of Ravello with their own eyes, and harness it to create some the most everlasting books, operas, plays and paintings the world has known.
Ravello has been dubbed the City of Music and is home to the Ravello Festival, an annual summer festival of music and arts that celebrates this small town’s lasting musical legacy. The stunning outdoor stage at Villa Rufolo that sits high above the Amalfi coast is an inspiring performance venue that hosts concerts and recitals throughout the year in spring, summer and fall, so there’s always something to enjoy. Arts and music continue to define Ravello and let visitors get a glimpse of the creative history that’s shaped the region.
One of the best ways to explore the town is on foot. Try a walking tour to discover the historic and artistic significance of all the sites in the area, or simply spend a peaceful afternoon outdoors with your notebook, canvas or camera. Set against the mesmerizing sapphire waters of the Mediterranean, Ravello’s storied architecture, pure Neapolitan cuisine and thriving music and arts atmosphere continue to entice the curious from all over the world. As the place to go to find your muse its just as alluring as ever, so what are you waiting for?
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