Villa Rufolo – a jewel on the Amalfi Coast

On a recent trip to the Amalfi Coast I discovered the jewel of Villa Rufolo in the town of Ravello. Although situated in the center of town, the Villa is hidden from view rewarding the unsuspecting visitor with the most pleasant of surprises.

A palatial estate built in 1270 for the wealthy Rufolo family, Villa Rufolo was one of the largest and most expensive villas on the Amalfi Coast, and legends grew about treasures hidden on its premises.

Composed of two main towers and a magnificent cloister, all in the Moorish style with the details and textures one would expect of Islamic architecture, it is known as a miniature Alhambra. Walking through the main tower and cloister, with its alluring patterns and architectural detail, once would expect to find the desert-like surroundings of the middle east. Instead what awaits the visitor is one of the most magnificent gardens imaginable.

Juxtaposed against the sea and sky, the lush vegetation, burst of colorful flowers, cast iron trellises and sculptures create a magical oasis. The soft breezes and quiet rustling of the umbrella pines create an atmosphere that has for centuries been a source of inspiration for artists of all inspirations,

The German composer Richard Wagner stayed in Villa Rufolo while writing the second act of his final opera, Parsifal. Today, his spirit lives on in the unique annual music festival for which the Villa and town of Ravello are famous worldwide. The “City of Music” summer concert series features piano concerts, chamber music and a grand orchestral performance on a stage built jutting out over the Mediterranean Sea. I can’t imagine a more beautiful setting for orchestral music seemingly hosted gracefully by Villa Rufolo itself. This and more on the Amalfi Coast when travelling with Your Own Italy.