February 24, 2009 - "Postcard From Ravello" - This photo was shot at Villa Cimbrone in Italy in 1999. My wife captured this photo that was scanned and processed from a color print negative.
Villa Cimbrone in Ravello on the Amalfi coast of Italy is an historic building dating from at least the eleventh century AD, although little of the original structure is now visible. The building was much altered and extended, using a motley collection of salvaged architectural elements from other parts of Italy and elsewhere, by Ernest William Beckett (later Lord Grimthorpe), an English politician, in the early twentieth century. The alterations were of such an extent that the building is now more pastiche than original structure. The gardens were redeveloped at the same time. The villa is now a hotel, and the gardens are open to the public.
Villa Cimbrone stands on a rocky outcrop known as "Cimbronium", and it is from this landscape feature that the villa takes its name. The earliest references to the villa date back to the eleventh century AD, when the villa belonged the Accongiogioco, a noble family. It later passed to the ownership of a wealthy and influential family, the Fusco, who are also recorded in 1291 as owning the local church of S. Angelo de Cimbrone.
At a later stage in its history the villa became part of the nearby monastery of Santa Chiara, and during this period of the villa's history the papal arms of Cardinal Della Rovere were placed on the old entrance gate. From the seventeenth century the villa's history is uncertain, but by the second half of the nineteenth century the villa had passed to the Amici family of Atrani. It was visited by the historian Ferdinand Gregorovius, who described it thus in his Siciliana: Wanderings in Naples and Sicily (1861):
incomparable ... where the most beautiful flowers you can imagine flourished, coming from numerous plants of the South ... redesigned and enriched with countless ... ornamental features, small temples, pavilions, bronze and stone statues.
and referring to the belvedere (also known as the Terrazzo dell'lnfinito, the Terrace of Infinity)
While contemplating from those Armida's orchards, among the roses and the hydrangeas, that magic sea in which the blue colour of a very limpid sky is reflected, the wish of being able to fly comes out ... Right at the edge of the crag there was a terrace commanding an enchanting view; it was surrounded by horrible marble statues which, however, from afar, had a sort of appeal.