La Rondinaia, Ravello

Gore Vidal’s Ravello

August 2012

Gore Vidal died on Tuesday at the grand old age of 86. And what a life he lived. Author, screenwriter and sometime actor, Vidal never shied away from a hot topic – homosexuality, mental illness, transgender politics, all made it into his books and plays – and he wasn’t short of a good quote either, often insisting on having the last word. His long and bitter rivalry with Truman Capote continued even after Capote’s death, which Vidal acerbically described as ‘a good career move’. And was it disappointment at his own failed political career that allowed him to describe politics as ‘just showbusiness for ugly people’? But away from the limelight, Vidal preferred a quieter life and chose a hilltop hideaway in Ravello, on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, to spend thirty-three years of his life, only leaving when those hills that he loved so much, proved too much for his increasingly dogdy knees.

Vidal bought ‘La Rondinaia’ in 1972 and when he sold it 33 years later the asking price was over $17 million. Though the plan was for a luxury hotel development, the villa remains as it was when Vidal left it. I visited it in 2008 and took a few photos of the interior – and one of the spectacular view that he found so hard to leave…

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