Sitting high atop a promontory that offers stunning views of the Mediterranean and the dramatic coastline below, the Villa Cimbrone is the crown laurel of Ravello.
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 to 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.
The villa and the gardens were extensively renovated by a British nobleman, Lord Grimthorpe, in the early 20th century. With its expansive gardens and dramatic views, the villa is a popular place for weddings, honeymoons, and receptions. The villa is a private five-star hotel, but the gardens are open to the public and it ranks, perhaps, as the most memorable sight on the Amalfi Coast.
The villa’s belvedere, Terrazza dell’Infinito (Terrace of Infinity), is lined by a series of marble busts that on clear days sparkle against the bluesky above and the azure waters of the Mediterranean below.References:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.