On one of these outings, directly after our presentation in the morning (without even eating lunch, we ate bag lunches on the bus) we climbed aboard two buses and were whisked away on a magical mystery tour over the mountains. The climb up towards the mountain pass, with its whiplash-inducing switchbacks, didn't do anything for classmates nursing hangovers, but the views were amazing. To get to Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, our destination, one has to cross the Lattari Mountains, which rise over 4,000 feet from sea level. Considering we started close to sea level, this was a lot of elevation gain. Below left: looking towards Mt. Vesuvius as we begin the steepest part of the climb. Below right: the Apennines.
Finally we drove through the pass and soon entered Ravello, a town built into the cliffs above the Amalfi Coast. Below: looking down into the lower town, Ravello.
We were in Ravello to visit a new concert hall designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (see banner), and to tour Villa Rufolo. After the long bus ride, some of us needed refreshment, and found a little bar tucked into the cliff just outside the walls of Villa Rufolo.After fortifying ourselves and admiring the view, we left to explore Villa Rufolo. It is difficult to find words adequate to describe this site. Sensuous shrub forms, luxuriant, glowing blossoms, and graceful ruins, sure, but that cannot fully capture the drama of the site, perched as it is on the cliff's edge thousands of feet above the sea. The pictures can tell the story better than I can.
After touring the gardens of Villa Rufolo, we relaxed on the square, drank espresso at a café and watched a wedding party emerge from the town church. Nobody was in a hurry to leave, and we ended up having to run for the bus.
As it so happens, I will likely be returning to Italy at the end of March, as a follow-up trip to the studio project from last semester. I'm continuing some of that work with the same professor, and hope to be able to present some of our findings on Roman garden paintings at that time. Unfortunately, none of my other classmates will be able to make the trip, but I'm looking forward to it and hope it will actually work out that we can go.