Ravello, City of music
In a wonderful panoramic position, lying on a rocky outcrop of the Lattari mountains that divides the Dragone valley from those of the Reghinna, rises Ravello, universally recognized as the City of music.
Its wide view of the gulf, its natural and artistic beauties, its so particular atmosphere of solitude and silence, the dazzling vision of its gardens and the almost fairytale view of its panoramic views, make it an unforgettable place to stay, a oasis of infinite tranquility.
The town, made up of small houses, twisted streets, villas and churches with wonderful mosaics that testify to the strong Byzantine and Arab influence, preserves its medieval appearance.
Ravello, located on the plateau that divides the valley of the Dragone stream from the one where the Reginna stream flows, shows intact many testimonies of the millenary history that has seen it as protagonist with the Duchy of Amalfi on the political scene of the medieval Mediterranean.
Tradition has it that Ravello, like all the other towns on the Amalfi Coast, dates back to the arrival of a group of Roman nobles, who arrived here following the sinking of their ship along the coasts of Dalmatia, which occurred while they were on their way to Constantinople. But the archaeological traces, even if very limited, suggest a frequentation already in classical times with some villas, as they are counted on the coast.
The history of Ravello acquires greater documentary consistency starting from the creation of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi on 1 September 839, when all the territory around the coastal center met in the Duchy.
The situation changed when the semi-independence of the Duchy of Amalfi began from the Norman Kingdom (1073-1131), during which the Normans continued to receive support for the most influential Ravello families for greater control over the Amalfi nobility. In this period, in addition to the arrival of an autonomous stratigot for the city of Ravello, Ruggiero favored the elevation of the city to an autonomous Bishopric, directly dependent on the Holy See. But during the Norman period there were two episodes that interested the entire Duchy and that represented a moment of crisis; in 1135 and 1137 the Pisans attacked the territory and while in the first episode the troops were blocked by the mighty defensive construction of Fratte on Monte Brusara and by the arrival of the military aid of Ruggiero, in the second episode it was not possible to stop the enemies who they devastated the territory.
The Swabian era (1194-1266) saw the support of the major local families (the Rogadeos, the Frezzas, the Boves and the Rufolos) to Frederick II, receiving in exchange prestigious appointments at the court. The Angevin period (1266-1398, year of the feudalization of the Amalfi Duchy) registered the most severe crisis for the entire territory; the War of the Vespers, which broke out in 1282 lasted 20 years, negatively influenced the economy of the Duchy, an economy based above all on maritime trade. From this moment on, many of the families transferred their commercial interests to Puglia and, especially during the first part of the period of the Infeudazione, the city was ravaged by internal struggles and later also by the nearby Scala.
The Amalfitan fiefdom passed from the hands of the Sanseverino up to those of the Piccolomini of Siena in 1583 and many of the most important families moved permanently to Naples, where they continued to exercise the trades and the assignments near the Aragonese court. Not all, however, left their native Ravello, so much so that in 1583 numerous Ravellese nobles also participated in the redemption of the Amalfi territory from feudal domination, paying the last descendant, Maria D’Avalos, widow of Giovanni Piccolomini, who put in sale of the duchy the 216 gold ducats: the population of the Costa acquired possession by making this part of the territory real property.
Local historians are silent about the periods following the redemption of the territory by the inhabitants, almost as if the area’s role in historical events had been exhausted, but also if we witnessed a period of crisis, determined by the removal of many families from these places, they continued to live and participate in the history of the following centuries. The French Decade, for example, also produced negative effects in Ravello due to the reduction of religious sites and the suppression of some of the oldest and most active monastic dwellings in the area.
With the Bourbons, on the other hand, and with the construction of the coastal road from Vietri to Amalfi, the territory experienced a new moment of fortune also because this is the period of the discovery of the Coast by European travelers. The events that accompanied the unification of Italy also saw the territory of Ravello, albeit marginally, affected by the phenomenon of brigandage, which especially in the mountains bordering Scala recorded the presence of some opponents of political power.
Ravello, however, returned to the national political limelight at the end of the Second World War. In fact, in the so-called Villa Episcopio, owned by the Prince of Sangro, Vittorio Emanuele III found shelter, arrived here from Brindisi. In this place the signing of the passage of the lieutenancy from Vittorio Emanuele III to his son Umberto on April 12th 1944 and the oath of the provisional government, based in Salerno, which ferried Italy towards the Republic took place.