FESTIVAL CITIES: RAVELLO
Ravello was founded in the 5th century as a shelter place against the barbarian invasions which marked the end of the Western Roman Empire. In the 9th century Ravello was an important town of the maritime republic of Amalfi, a producer of wool from its surrounding country that was dyed in the town and an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.
In 1086. at the request of the Norman count Roger Borsa, who wished to create a counterweight to powerful Amalfi, Pope Victor III made Ravello the seat of diocese immediately subject to the Holy See, with territory split off from that of the archdiocese of Amalfi. Early on, the bishops of Ravello all came from patrician families of the city, showing the church's municipalised character.
In the 12th century, Ravello had some 25,000 inhabitants, and it retains a disproportionate number of palazzi of the mercantile nobility, the Rufolo, d'Aflitto, Confalone and Della Marra. In 1137, after a first failed attack two years before, it was destroyed by the Republic of Pisa. After this, a demographic and economic decline set in, and much of its population moved to Naples and its surroundings.
On 31 July 1603 the Diocese of Ravello was merged aeque principaliter with the diocese of Scala. The Bishop of Scala, then Francesco Bennio, became bishop of Ravello - he and his successors remained titulars of both Ravello and Scala until 27 June 1818, when both dioceses were suppressed and merged into the archdiocese of Amalfi by Pope Pius VII's bull De utiliori, in the wake of his concordat with Ferdinand I.
Ravello was famed for its "patricians of Ravello", noble families that included the Acconciajoco, Alfano, Appencicario, Aufiero, Bove, Campanile, Cassitto, Castaldo, Citarella, Confalone, Coppola, Cortese, D'Afflitto, De Curtis, Dell'Isola, Della Marra, De Piccolellis, De Vito, Fenice, Foggia, Frezza, Fusco, Giusto, Grisone, Guerritore, Longo, Mansi, Marinelli, Muscettola, Panicola, Papice, Pironti, Rago, Rogadeo, Rovito, Rufolo, Russo, Rustici, Sasso, and Arcucci.
The town has served historically as a destination for artists, musicians, and writers, including Giovanni Boccaccio, Richard Wagner, Edvard Grieg, M. C. Escher, Virginia Woolf, Greta Garbo, Gore Vidal, André Gide, Joan Mirò, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Graham Greene, Jacqueline Kennedy, Leonard Bernstein and Sara Teasdale (who mentioned it in her prefatory dedication in Love Songs).
Every year in the summer months, the "Ravello Festival" takes place. It began in 1953 in honour of Richard Wagner, who signed the guestbook of his local hotel with the words "The magical garden of Klingsor is found" suggesting that it was in Ravello that the composer found the inspiration for his Parsifal.
There is an ancient legend, still recounted by tour guides in Salerno and Amalfi, that it was to Ravello, with its scenic view of the Mediterranean and the dramatic Amalfi coastline, that Satan transported Jesus during His second temptation to show the beauty of the world's kingdoms. (Luke 4: 5-8)
The 1953 film Beat the Devil, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, and Gina Lollobrigida in her English language debut, was shot in Ravello.