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Top Six Wonders Of Campania Which Must Be Seen: Ravello & Naples

Updated on October 24, 2009

Ravello

 

Ravello, where nature, beauty, and the splendid landscape combine with the peace and enchantment of the precious architectural monuments, villas and gardens, is one of the most famous and popular locations on the Amalfi Coast. The romantic, lovely setting is criss-crossed with winding streets and planted everywhere with flowers.

The history of Ravello dates back to the ninth century, when the town came under Amalfi's jurisdiction. The close links with Amalfi allowed Ravello to develop and to prosper, increasing its own artistic and cultural heritage. In the thirteenth century the town numbered close to 36,000 inhabitants; now it is a mere village, though with some thirteen churches, four monasteries and numerous palaces.

The Cathedral Church of San Pantaleone, boasts 12th century bronze doors, with forty-four panels depicting old testament scenes, and is of extraordinary workmanship. The thirteenth century Palazzo Rufolo is one of the most magnificent residences on the Amalfi coast. It consists of a spectacular complex formed by the main palazzo (13th century) and various Saracen style buildings, on a wide terrace facing the gulf. The moorish courtyard, decorated with friezes and arabesques, is reached by a small avenue flanked by cypresses.

From the Knights Room, a picturesque belvedere opens up, in a luxurious garden with pines, cypresses and exotic plants. It is no wonder that Richard Wagner was struck by the spectacular gardens which became his inspiration for the magic garden of Klinsgor in his Parsifal.

The nearby Villa Cimbrone, was restored by an eccentric English man at the end of the nineteenth century. The highly original complex is formed by a building with two towers, a courtyard and a Gothic-style crypt facing the sea. From the belvedere an exceptional view over the gulf of Salerno can be enjoyed.

 

Naples

 

It cannot be denied that Naples is a historical center as first it was the Parthenope Neapolis belonging to the Roman Empire, then later after the fall of Rome it became the Byzantine city of Theodosius, then later still was the seat of the Emperor Fredrick II of Svevia, as well as serving the capital of the both the Angioin and Aragon, not to mention the Bourbon pomp as well as the seat of King Gioacchino Murat. It is also indisputable that Naples is a world renowned center of art, as can be witnessed by the innumerable monuments, the glorious churches and the spectacular ornate palazzos present in the city. It is also true that "Bella Napoli" is a metropolis where the life of its unique and colorful citizens has left a truly indelible mark on the city itself, a trace which is clearly evident on every street, on every grand historical monument, and every event which constitutes the life of the city.

I personally despise modern Naples for its filth, chaos, noise, and pervasive crime. However, there is no dispute as to the historical treasures hidden amidst the mountains of rotting, burning trash.

Centuries of history have characterized this one of a kind city by both great power and embarrassing weakness; highfalutin pomp and abject poverty; miserable slavery and the haughty ideals of independence. Naples has permanently maintained its unique cultural goals and freedom of intellectuality. The wholly Neapolitan character is enterprising to say the least, imbued with an energy which is often masked by a traditional partenopean form of fatalism..

Art in Naples is placed in an enviable position as in the case of the the Royal Palace of Capodimonte, the Maschio Angioino, and the countless other irreplaceable works of art and architecture. Any one of these would be a valued treasure in any other city in the world, and it is quite telling that the Neapolitans not only accept these treasures of human creativity in their midst, they are virtually apathetic about them, considering them in much the same way as a concrete block of flats or the terrifying elevated Tangenziale highway which soars above the homes of thousands.

It can truly be stated that there are no words which can ever fully capture the wonder, the richness, the art, the culture and the profound contradictions of this extremely unique and dichotomous city.

Continued In: Top Six Wonders Of Campania Which Must Be Seen: Caserta & Pompei

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