See ancient ruins, manicured gardens and classical music concerts in this garden of paradise high up in the hills above the Mediterranean Sea.
Just off Ravello’s central piazza is a palatial villa built in the 13th century. What’s most remarkable about Villa Rufolo is not the building itself but the grounds, a paradise of manicured gardens, exotic plants and incredible views. The wealthy and powerful Rufolo family built the cliff-top mansion that has since hosted a succession of rich and famous visitors, including popes and kings.
The villa provides the perfect backdrop to the royal look of the gardens. Its mix of architectural styles include Arabic, Norman and Gothic influences. Enter via Torre d’Ingresso, a large, domed-roof tower. Stand inside the tower and look up to see arches decorating the ceiling. You’re likely to see this same decoration throughout. Continue up a tree-lined avenue to the beautiful cloister where arches line the Moorish courtyard.
Explore the tiered gardens at your own pace. Smell the scent of thousands of flowers in the air and stand in the shade of an exotic tree to look out over the Mediterranean Sea. The grounds captured the imagination of composer Richard Wagner, who used them as an inspiration in the Parsifal opera for the magic garden Klingsor.
Look out for the archeological ruins of a Turkish bath known as a Balnea within the grounds. There are water ducts and a domed ceiling visible today.
Come to the gardens in summer for the Ravello Festival, when music and dance events are held in the open air. See classical music in the Belvedere, an English-style garden overlooking the sea. There are art exhibitions held throughout the year here too. Check the Villa Rufolo website for details of cultural events.
Villa Rufolo lies in the centre of Ravello, high up in the hills above Amalfi. Come by bus or car from any of the major towns along the coast. The gardens and villa are open every day and there’s a fee to enter.