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Villa La Rondinaia Ravello

Owing to the particularity of its position, the surrounding panorama and the uninterrupted stream of illustrious guests, La Rondinaia is one of the most beautiful and unique villas on the Amalfi coast and in the whole of Italy. Immersed in a park of unparalleled beauty, girded by rocks - it gets its name from its resemblance to the nest of a swallow - the villa demands true ardor from its caretakers. In this land stories are still told of stonemasons linked together by rope, like tightrope walkers suspended over the void of a breathtaking perpendicular drop.
Ernest William Backett, then Lord Grimthorpe, acquired the ridge called Cimbrone at the beginning of the twentieth century, and in 1904 he entrusted the entire complex to Nicola Mansi, who took charge of the construction of what would be the Villa Cimbrone and Villa La Rondinaia.
From the moment that the two villas were connected, during the Thirties and Forties, all the guests at Villa Cimbrone also visited La Rondinaia. Certainly in the Thirties Virginia Wolf came there with her husband, Leonard and in the Forties Vita Sackeville West. In 1938 the musician Leopold Stokowski and the actress Greta Garbo were both guests of Lord Grimthorpe at Ravello, where they have a famous love affair.
Via Lucile, Lord Grimthorpe's second daughter, separated La Rondinaia from Villa Cimbrone and her house began to live its own life, independent from her father's house. Both houses began to host cultured discussion, concerts, plays and dances. For the English who came to Ravello, they were the center of cultural life, a salon of intellectuals.
At La Rondinaia writers and artists were drawn by the hospitality of the owners, as well as by the privacy and the enchantment of the place. In the Forties and Fifties movie stars visited La Rondinaia, Humprey Bogart, John Huston, Jennifer Jones, Peeter Lore, Gina Lollobrigida, Orson Wells, King Widor and Franco Zeffirelli; choreographers like Massine, painters like Escher e MirĂ², writers like Truman Capote, Rafael Alberti and Prezzolini and First Ladies like Jacqueline Kennedy.
Gore Vidal arrived at Ravello for the first time with Tennesse Williams, in 1948. He turned often to the place and in 1972 he bought La Rondinaia, where for 33 years he spent many months of the year and wrote many of his books.
"I consider it a mark of good fortune - he wrote - that I now live in Ravello for a period each year. Certainly the gardens, the setting, the architecture of this ancient city have a magical influence, particularly on foreign (those Goths who, in the end, civilized Rome!). The native people of Ravello are amazed when I tell them that this city was famous in the history of the world, particularly in literature, and especially in modern literature. The great English writer D.H. Lawrence was here, as was one of the major French writers, André Gilde, and, of course, Richard Wagner. They reflected everything here magnificently in their works, even if only glancingly - the intense green, the transparent blue, the grey of the travertine stone, the stupendous atmosphere - and pointed out, with delight, the subtle balance that nature sustains here in the ancient center of the earth, the Mediterranean".
Here, in his beautiful Rondinaia, Gore Vidal wrote a good part of his masterpieces and hosted over the years well-known personalities like Tennessee Williams, Styron, Calvino, Arbasino, Bermstein, Zeffirelli, Menotti, Paul Newman, Jane Woodward, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robins, Peter O'Toole, Andy Warhol, Paul Morrisey, Nureyev, Mick e Bianca Jagger, Sting, Francesco Rosi, Dick Savett, the lawyer Agnelli and Marella and First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Anyone who stays at La Rondinaia has the good fortune to look out on one of the most beautiful scenic views in the world and to enjoy this enchanting view from every windoe and every terrace. The lines that best sum up the rapport between Gore Vidal and this historic villa are:"I don't live in Ravello. I live at La Rondinaia".
Up until September 2005, only a privileged few could gain access to La Rondinaia, safely sheltered from indiscreet glances. At that point, it became physically impossible for Gore Vidal to get around in spaces so ample and variegated, so the property of the villa fell to some entrepreneurial hoteliers to plan, for the following summer a new life for the villa, not less prestigious and exclusive than the preceding lives, reserving it for a select number of guests who could fully appreciate the rare historic memories bound up with the exuberant nature of the park and the renovated comfort of the rooms, the salons, the pools, the massage parlor, Turkish bath and the terraces open to the charming sea of the Amalfi coast.

For further information about Villa La Rondinaia, please contact prof. Vincenzo Palumbo: +39 089857255 ; villamaria@villamaria.it

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