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Cooking with Mamma Agata - About Ravello

Perched on a 350 ft high cliff overlooking the deep blue sea of the Amalfi coast, Ravello has conserved it’s historical monuments throught the ages in a natural setting which has few equals in the world.

It was settled by Romans fleeing the sack of their dying empire, leaving behind the ruins of their once splendid villas. The town itself was founded in the 9th century, under Amalfi’s rule, until residents prosperous from cotton tussled with the superpower republic and elected their own doge in the 11th century, Amalfitans dubbed them rebelli (rebels). In the 12th century, they even succeeded in resisting the Pisa’s army for a couple of years. Ravello’s skilled seafaring trade with merchants and Moors from Sicily led to a burgeoning wealth, which peaked in the 13th century, when there were 13 churches, four cloisters and dozens of sumptuous villas. Neapolitan princes built palaces; life was privalidged.

But as is inevitable with all supernovas, Ravello’s bright light diminished, first through Pisa’s maritime rise in the 14th century, then through rivalry between the families in the 15th century. When the plague cast it’s shadow in the 17th century, the population plummeted from upwards of 30,000 to maybe a couple of thousand souls, where it remains today.

Despite the decline of its power and populace, Ravello’s cultural heritage and special loveliness continued to blossom. Gardens flowered and music flowed in the ruined villas, and artists, sophisticates, and their lovers filled the crumbling palazzos. Grieg, Wagner, D.H.Lawrence, Chanel, Garbo and companion, Conductor Leopold Stokowski, and then, slowly, tourists followed in their footsteps.

With Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, complete the list of monuments which can be visited as one strolls along the streets and alleyways of this enchanting town: the Duomo devoted to the Virgin, with the mosaic pulpit of Bartolomeo da Foggia and the iron doors of Barsian da Trani. In the major Chapel are preserved the blood of Saint Pantaleone, that does liquefy on the 27th of July of every year.

The church of San Giovanni del Toro, with its pulpit in mosaic by Alfano da Termoli; the churches of Santa Maria a Gradillo and Santissima Annunziata, Villa Episcopio, where King Vittorio Emanuele III signed his abdication in favour of his son Umberto II and where Jacqueline Kennedy also stayed on a memorable holiday and the cloister of the 13th century convent of St. Francesco with his library.

The mountains behind Ravello are extremely amazing: a walk in the mountains or down to Minori or Atrani is a different way of spending a day.

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