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On the Amalfi coastline waits the picturesque village of Ravello. It is a quiet place, not as flashy or cosmopolitan as Amalfi. It is laid back, serene, hushed — the ideal destination for poets, lovers, mystics, or a world-weary traveller who needs a few blessed days of peace before heading back to the workaday world.

Ravello, in fact, has opened its arms to many artists. The great composer Wagner once stayed at the Villa Rufolo, a sprawling estate near the edges of Ravello, owned by the Scotsman Neville Reid. Wagner took frequent walks along the village pathways, and from what he saw, he found inspiration for the Garden of Klingsor. The Garden is the setting for Act II of Parsifal.

Ravello is also a favourite destination of writers. Ibsen would come here, spending hours on his drafts of his famous plays, or abandoning writing altogether just to drink in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Gide, E. M. Forster, Boccaccio and D. H. Lawrence also booked frequent vacations, allowing the calm sea breeze and the soothing sound of the ocean to tame, and tempt, their muses. The British painter William Turner also immortalised some of its scenes in his art works.

Ravello was also the stage of romance between Greta Garbo and conductor Leopold Stokowlski. It is easy to understand why they would choose this place of all the romantic destinations in Italy. The Amalfi coast has a long and beautiful history of being a lover’s paradise. The area itself was named after a nymph, said to have captured the heart of a god. And with the views of the mountain and ocean cradling you from all sides, you feel that Time stands still, frozen in this moment of perfection. Today, many couples flock to Ravello for the same reasons. Some hold wedding ceremonies, others celebrate their honeymoons. Many people have declared it to be one of the most romantic destinations in Italy, and considering Italy’s reputation, that is high praise indeed.

Ravello also has many cultural and historical treasures hidden within its borders. Its cathedral is decorated with marble and gold mosaics, while six statues of lions guard its doors. One piece of art depicts the story of Jonah, a choice that celebrates the region’s sea-side location. Another church, the San Guivanni del Torro, is smaller and less ornate, but has a simple atmosphere conducive to thinking, praying, and writing. The church also displays some fine examples of Saracenic ware from the 12th century, part of the legacy of the Moors, whose culture travelled to the Amalfi coast through the trade routes to the East.

Ravello may not have the bustling nightlife or the elegant hotels found in other places along the Amalfi coast, but it is the perfect destination for tourists who would rather immerse themselves in a quiet, serene environment where they can savour the beauty of the landscape (and perhaps even write a poem about it). Prices are also cheaper in Ravello, making it a more budget-friendly option for those who may be intimidated by the high tourist rates of hotels and restaurants in Amalfi proper.

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