Ravello: City of the Music.
We know it's not possible to visit every single town of the coast when you have limited time available, but Ravello, together with Positano and Amalfi, is a must see you should find at very least half a day for. Built in the 5th century, it later became home of several patrician families; it is still somewhat a luxury resort today, hosting five-star hotels and fine dining restaurants. It's a world famous choice for weddings, which are hosted on weekly -if not daily- bases during the warm season. It is also a place beloved by artists, enjoying or performing at the long music festival held every year.
The town is just a few km from Amalfi and Maiori, and can be reached by road or hiking up the steps from Atrani and Minori.
Starting from the main square that hosts the Cathedral, you can stroll through the quiet alleys, visit some historical buildings, and enjoy the sounds and scents while gazing at the view of the sea from up above. The town is in fact located at the edge of an overhanging cliff, overlooking the coast like a flowered balcony.
Ravello also reaches the sea with its hamlets, and includes a less crowded public beach in Castiglione. Other hamlets like Sambuco and Torello are still in the mountains, a few km from the main town, and may be worth a visit if you have a longer time in the area and are into hiking.
Ravello… from the cycling point of view:
For its position at the top of a relatively short but steep climb (we recommend e-bikes unless you're a fit cyclist), we don't suggest using Ravello as a base for multiple cycling days, but it remains one of our favorite destinations for bike tours.
Once at the main crossroad in Castiglione, on the Amalfi Drive, you can start climbing this challenging secondary road until you reach a tunnel: to go to the main square, turn right before the tunnel, and you'll be there in a few hundred meters. From the square, there's a narrow alley going through the village all the way to Villa Cimbrone at the edge of the cliff: it is possible to ride the bike until there, but we recommend walking the bike or going very slowly minding pedestrians on the way. Back from the detour, you can pass through a short tunnel by the square to get back on a road at the other side of the cliff facing Minori. Follow it, and you will meet the other end of the first tunnel, from which you can get back and enjoy the descent to Castiglione (and eventually return towards Amalfi or Maiori). If you skip the tunnel and keep following the road, instead, you will head up towards the Chiunzi Pass, through a quiet road immersed in nature that is also one of our favorite rides, best in the summer, to escape the crowds and heat.
Reaching the hamlets Torello or Sambuco, as well as the nearby village Scala, are also nice short challenging detours, if you don't have time for the full Chiunzi Pass climb and loop.
We can bring our rental bikes (up to 4 at a time) here at a 10 € fee one way, 20 € for both delivery and pick up.
Some attractions we recommend here:
Cathedral of Ravello
The main church of Ravello, dedicated to Saint Mary of Assumption and Saint Pantaleon, dates back to the 11th century. Noteworthy its bronze main door with bas-reliefs, the Gospel pulpit on the right, and the Ambo of the Epistles on the left. From the side of the building you can access the Cathedral's Museum in the crypt, where some medieval sculptures are on display.
Nearby, there's also a Museum of Coral, hosting traditional crafts handed down within a local family.
Check out its website.
Once home of the powerful Rufolo family of Ravello, this villa of the 13th century can be accessed through the entrance tower by the main square. Inside, you can visit its beautiful gardens overlooking Minori and the Gulf of Salerno.
The composer Richard Wagner visited it while composing the Parsifal, identifying its gardens as the Klingsor one from his work. The terrace hosts many of the orchestral concerts of the Ravello Festival, including the one at dawn, usually in August.
Check out its website.
This more recent Villa, once abandoned and then reconstructed as it is just at the beginning of the 20th century, is still one of the favorites of all visitors reaching Ravello. Most of the building is now a luxury hotel, but it is possible for everyone to visit its park with garden, which include the Infinity Terrace, a breathtaking viewpoint at the very edge of the cliff hosting the town.
This is just an overview with our picks and there might be more worth seeing: we encourage doing some more research to also check updated opening times, fares and other details of the attractions listed.
Yearly local events worth mentioning:
A season long event including plenty of music performances, mostly classical, taking place in suggestive locations like the terrace of Villa Rufolo or the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium. A special one at dawn is usually held in August.
Saint Pantaleon's patron feast
Two days of celebrations and events for the town's patron Saint Pantaleon, which culminate with an amazing fireworks display.
Virgin Mary of Sorrow's feast
Third Sunday of September
The hamlet Torello is decorated with a myriad of lights, together with fireworks, to look like it's on fire, during this unique and very scenic festivity.
During these events, the town gets busier and there might be heavy traffic or few parking lots available: plan carefully if you are travelling to or through it on these dates.
Events may change through the years, and some may be skipped altogether. Please look for an updated schedule of the specific ones you would like to attend to.