Ravello could probably have been founded by Roman colonists in the sixth century, who would have retreated to these heights to escape the ravages of barbarians. The earliest written records of the city date back to the 9th century when all the cities on the coast joined the state of the Amalfi Republic. Towards the year 1000, a group of Amalfi nobles settled there, who had rebelled against the authority of the doge of their city. They contributed to the development of the city, which was prosperous thanks in particular to its craft of weaving wool.

In the eleventh century, the inhabitants sought to free themselves from the links with Amalfi: the town was surrounded by walls. The patriarch families began to build their sumptuous dwellings, and elect a duke. In 1086 Ravello even became an episcopal seat. With the Norman conquest and their domination over southern Italy, the city began to decline, becoming in 1131 part of the Norman Kingdom. In 1137 the Republic of Pisa looted Ravello for three days. In spite of this the Ravellois, skilled merchants, had conquered Arab markets and between the twelfth and thirteenth century, the city had about 36,000 inhabitants.

During the Sicilian Vespers (1282-1302), the Angevines French occupied Ravello and ransomed it against 135 ounces of gold.

In the following centuries the city declined and its population was reduced, with in particular, the plague of the seventeenth century that decimated its population. In 1818 the diocese of Ravello was abolished for the benefit of Amalfi.