Building began at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1927, to be exact on the wishes of Lady Lucylle (Lucy), the daughter of Ernest William Becket, Lord Grimthorpe (Lucy would go on to become the Countess Szecheney). Becket was the creator and owner of the Villa Cimbrone and the surrounding park land in which La Rondinaia was built. The idea of La Rondinaia was first conceived in 1915. The project and the supervision of the works were given to Nicola Mansi, who was from the village itself. Lord Grimthorpe had met Mansi in London and Mansi had already overseen the construction and development of the Villa Cimbrone. The job of actually building La Rondinaia was given to Francesco Amato, he too was from Ravello, a master craftsman and stonemason.
OVERLOOKING the SEA
The Villa Cimbrone is at the beginning of a tree-lined avenue, leading on to the much visited Belvedere of Infinity overlooking the cliff face, whereas La Rondinaia presents an exact opposite scenario: it is situated at the end of a park area, the house being perched on the cliff face. This permits visitors to enjoy the panorama from the windows, balconies and terraces of the house itself1. As Catherine Fairweather wrote in 2001: “These framed windows are frankly distracting. Is it possible to become immune to such beauty?”2.S
LUCYLLE and LA RONDINAIA
With the passage of time, Lucylle separated La Rondinaia from the Villa Cimbrone and made it her own personal home. The house took on its own personality. The rooms became places of cultural discussion, concerts, theater and dance. It became the focal point for all English visitors to Ravello. A real “must go to place” for members of the elite “inner circle”. It is for this reason La Rondinaia became an irresistible destination for stars of the silver screen, artists, luminaries of society and dignitaries of every kind. Here, they could delight in the secluded location, the impressive architectural features and the splendor of the views over the Amalfi Coast and last but certainly not least the hospitality offered by the hosts.L
the VIDAL's BUEN RETIRO
The villa was also a place of refuge and privacy for over 33 years for the celebrated essayist, writer and dramatist Gore Vidal. He purchased La Rondinaia in 1972. Inspired by the stunning views, he wrote much of his work here, whilst giving splendid hospitality to great stars of the cinema, who on a visit to Ravello, could never miss out on a visit to this magical place.V
1. Domenico De Masi, "Ravello. Un petit tour", Avagliano, Roma, 2003, p. 140 e ss.
2. Catherine Fairweather "La Dolce Vita. Living in Italy", Pavilion, Londra, 2001, p. 56 e ss.