Situated in the Romagna zone of Emilia – Romagna, in Northern Italy, this delightful small town of Ravenna is the home of the Mosaic Basilica. This historic centre is mostly pedestrian. Known as a walker's paradise, Ravenna is hailed as a 'shopping haven'. Stylish boutiques with fashionable garments and dresses from several parts of Italy find a prominent place in Ravenna, although the stores themselves are not are large as the ones in Milan or Rome. Take time to walk around this town and discover charming surprises.
Travel to Ravenna Italy
Ravenna is accessible by car, train, bus or plane. There is a train station at Ravenna with main lines that run to Bologna and Rimini. A visitor can also reach Ravenna by car or bus, and if by plane – there is an airport in the town of Forli which is just about 20 km from Ravenna.
Summers in Ravenna can be quite fierce with temperature rising as high as 35 degrees C, with considerable humidity. Strong winds blowing off the Adriatic coast make for a cold winter, with even temperatures dropping below freezing. Visiting Ravenna in Spring or Fall would allow you to take in the beauty of the place with walking tours and gourmet meals.
The mosaics of Ravenna
The attractive Byzantine mosaics are the central attraction at Ravenna, and very rightly so. They are unquestionably the finest. Mosaic decoration, though traditional, is alive even today in the studios of Ravenna – where masterpieces are reproduced as mosaic versions. Contemporary mosaics at the Loggetta Lornbardesca are permanently exhibited for enthusiasts who want to see/learn current trends in mosaic.
Ravenna was a thriving seaport in ancient times and it rose to power in the 1st century BC under Emperor Augustus. The town was later converted to Christianity in the 2nd century AD and then Ravenna became capital of the Western Empire. The exquisite early Christian mosaics spanning the Roman Ostrogothic and Byzantine rules stand testimony to this period. The Byzantine churches and domes indicative of eastern heritage and the mosaics have been collectively designated a World Heritage Site.
The amazing mosaics can be seen at the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuova, a must-see in Ravenna. This is dedicated to St Apollinarus, the first bishop of Ravenna. This 6th century basilica is well known for its rows of ancient mosaics, depicting a narration of biblical stories at length. Historians and tourists with interest in history can visit the Dante's tomb which is just a kilometer walk from the Basilica.
Sant' Apollinare in Classe is another church renowned for its exceptional mosaics. This is located a few miles out in the suburb of Classe. Dating back to the 6th century, it is famous for Byzantine mosaics. You can find reference to these brilliant mosaics in Dante's Divine Comedy.
Tourist spots at Ravenna
The Mausoleum of Galla Placida houses the tomb of sister of Honorius and Empress of Rome Galla who was one of history's powerful women.
The Basilica of San Vitale is considered as a major monument in western art history.
The Arian Baptistery was built in the 6th century when the Arian Visigoths ruled Italy. Interestingly, the dome holds mosaics which reveal the baptism of Christ with a personification of the River Jordan.
There are several old monuments that stand renovated at Ravenna. San Giovanni Evangelista is one of the oldest monuments dating to 426-30 AD and it is the chief attraction of the 6th century architecture and 13th century mosaics of the Crusades.
The National and Archiepiscopal museums house art treasures from various epochs.
A Classense library and the Municipal Art Gallery contain an impressive collection of paintings predominantly on wood and canvas. These belong to the 15th and 16th centuries and mainly from the Romagna period.
The city of Faenza is located on the west of Ravenna and it dates back to Etruscan – Roman period. Renowned for its ceramic production of 12th century, this place in the present times has more than 60 ceramic workshops.
Visitors to Ravenna can choose one of the two tourist itineraries – be it Renaissance itinerary including visits to Cathedral and central squares or the Neo-classical itinerary that covers the Milzetti Palace, Masini Theatre and the famous international ceramic museum that houses collections from various parts of the world.
Ravenna boasts of several theatrical, ballets, opera and concert events that take place round the year. The international opera and symphony concert takes place from June to end of July and it is held in the city with great enthusiasm in prestigious places such as the Church St Vitale and the Basilica of St Apollinaire in Classe.
Throughout summer, numerous festive events take place at evocative venues of the old town. The Jazz festival in July happens at Rocca Brancaleone. In August it is time for Organ Music festival in the church of St Vitale.
Eating in Ravenna
Ravenna's rich and carefully prepared cuisine – like the delicious homemade pasta is a delicacy for the foodie tourist. Tagliatelle and lasagna, cappelletti with its cheese filling, and fine barbecued meat - a variety of fish and seafood are all available in abundance at Ravenna. Traditional piadinas and desserts and zuppa inglese which is a trifle made of custard and cordial soaked biscuits are a gourmet's delight. The internationally famous Ravenna wines include Sangiovese, Albana and Trebbiano and this completes the gastronomic scenario for the tourists.