IN THE HEART OF RAVELLO
Difficulty: easy | Time: 2,5 hours
You arrive in Ravello welcomed by the evocative appearance of Santa Maria a Gradillo with its immediate and intense Moorish influence.
A little further on are the remains of the ancient fortified Castle, dating from the beginning of the 13th century. You are immediately immersed in the authentic heart of the city: piazza del Vescovado, like a casket of artistic jewels, which the Cathedral looks onto, and the entrance tower of the superb Villa Rufolo, choreographic ensemble of 13th and 14th century buildings immersed in an incredibly lush and diverse vegetation.
Behind the noble residence rises the church of Annunziata, whose severe vault is embellished with inlaying in grey stone.
Still further on is the church of San Pietro alla Costa, perhaps the oldest in the city according to its foundation date: the old basilica collapsed in the 16th century and was rebuilt and often renovated in subsequent centuries.
Finally, you arrive at the medieval borgo di Torello which was the first inhabited nucleus of Ravello and took its name from the heights of Mount Toro: in the centre there is the lovely church of San Michele Arcangelo, preceded by a narthex.
FROM VILLA RUFOLO TO VILLA CIMBRONE
Difficulty: easy | Time: 2 hours
From the chapel of Villa Rufolo you soon reach the church of San Francesco whose convent was founded, according to tradition, by the saint from Assisi.
A little further on rises the church of Santa Chiara with, alongside, the eight cells of the adjacent 14th century enclosed monastery. Climbing the lovely shady streets that take their names from the two churches you arrive, after a pleasant walk, to the Villa Cimbrone.
The context, an eclectic meeting-place between vestiges of the past and more recent reconstructions, architectural styles and naturalistic treasures, offers the possibility of following a great variety of evocative itineraries. Immediately to the left of the entrance is a small cloister from which it is possible to enter the so-called crypt.
On the right of the small cloister, instead, rises the square, crenellated defence tower, avant-corps of the so-called castle, whose interior, richly adorned with a great variety of decorations, really deserves a visit. Following the lovely viale dell’Immensità, you reach, firstly, the little temple of Cerere and then, overhanging the sea, the famous terrace dell’Infinito.
Furthermore, nearby, are the belvedere of Mercury and the temple of Venus, the little temple of Bacchus, the Arabian-style Tea Room and the atrium of the Sirens.
FROM PIAZZA VESCOVADO TO PIANELLO
Difficulty: easy | Time: 1,5 hours
To the left of the central piazza Vescovado a stairway leads to palazzo Confalone, named after one of the oldest and most illustrious Ravellian families: the 13th century origins of the building, presently used as a hotel, are demonstrated by the architectural lines of the splendid internal court-yard.
Leaving the palazzo del Municipio (City Hall), dating back to just after the year 1000AD, you come across the Arabian-style palazzo Sasso, which boasts a superb belvedere, built with the mount at its back and dominating the sea. Further on, overlooking a lovely square, is palazzo d’Afflitto whose wealth of architectural finds come from an ancient church named after Sant’Eustachio in the nearby town of Scala.
Then the itinerary leads to the thousand year old church of San Giovanni al Toro, which rises up on an elevated site on the same heights from which it gets its name. Continuing towards the northern edge of the town, you reach piazza Fontana from which a narrow street leads up the hill of Brusara: on the right is situated the church of Santa Maria del Lacco and, on the left, a little further on, is the church of San Martino.
Along the road which goes from piazza Fontana to the church of Santa Maria a Gradillo, you can visit the church of Sant’Angelo which has been completely dug out of the mountain side: inside this evocative church there is a 13th century pulpit of remarkable workmanship.
DOWN THE ANCIENT STAIRS
Difficulty: medium | Time: 1 hour
A delightful walk, not very difficult and incredibly rewarding from the point of view of environmental attractions, is the one that climbs down from Ravello to Minori. You leave from the small, 13th century church dell’Annunziata, which used to belong lo the noble Fusco family and before that to the Royal Family of Naples.
It’s a pleasant walk downhill, between ancient stairways and narrow lanes, immersed in the always more intense perfume of the Mediterranean scrub. The itinerary offers marvellous views overlooking the coast and the sea. After less than half an hour you arrive in Minori, a holiday spot appreciated already at the time of Imperial Rome.
TO RAVELLO, FROM AMALFI
Difficulty: medium | Time: 2 hours
To reach Ravello on foot, leaving from the Amalfi coast, requires little effort and offers enormous joys in exchange. From Amalfi, proceding north-cast, along the coast towards Salerno, you arrive at Atrani, a small village set down in a cove between overhanging walls.
Then, in Castiglione, you turn left in the direction of Scala, another delightful inland location (worth a trip of its own… suffice to say that this ancient bishopric, as important as Ravello, at one time counted over 100 churches!)
Just past the fork there is the road which leads to Ravello, climbing along streets lined with noble palaces and splendid churches and arriving at gardens and terraces overlooking the sea.
THE FERRIERE VALLEY
Difficulty: medium | Time: 3 hours
The Ferriere Valley Nature Reserve, instituted in 1972, in the Scala local council territory behind Ravello, constitutes the only protected area on the whole Amalfi coast. The Reserve protects a steep valley of the Lattari mountains and allows you to discover the impervious face of a region more commonly celebrated for its spectacular coastal aspects.
The Lattari mountains, whose name derives from the breeding of milking cows that is traditionally undertaken here, in several points rise higher than 1000 metres. This place is blessed regarding the availability of water, which in the past favoured the growth of ironworks, factories and, especially, the famous Amalfi paper mills. The same abundance of water allows the presence of some rather unusual plant species. In particular, the Reserve boasts the ownership of the very precious Woodwardia radicans, a rare example of pre-glacial flora.