Holiday in Ravenna
In the early 5th century it was an imperial capital. The presence of the Royal and Imperial Courts made Ravenna Italy's most populous city in that period. Its power was immortalised by the construction of grand buildings, especially basilicas and mausoleums. Today Ravenna is a perfectly liveable city; everything is just a short pleasant stroll away. You can go through its history in a day or a weekend, thanks to the many holiday promotions for Ravenna.
This destination is also known as the city of mosaics and is one of few places in the world that has a whole eight UNESCO World Heritage monuments, recognised for their universal value and the originality and mastery of their mosaic art. It's a little known fact that Dante's remains are preserved in Ravenna and that here there are 35 km of beaches where you can go swimming in summer. Instead for nature lovers, the Po River Delta and the Comacchio Valleys, as well as the pine groves of Classe, San Vitale and Punte Alberete offer a multitude of outdoor excursions for those who love to go bikeriding.
You can purchase a single ticket to visit all eight World Heritage sites. One may begin with the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, which houses mosaics with a strong Byzantine influence, and then move on to the Basilica of San Vitale, one of the exemplars of early-Christian architecture in our country. Inside you'll marvel at the frescoed cupola, floor and the presbytery's mosaics depicting a labyrinth in which believers perform spiritual exercises for purification. The Ortodossi Baptistry, opposite the Ariani Baptistry, holds a baptismal font surrounded by splendid mosaics that climax in the cupola, which depicts Christ's baptism. Near the Ortodossi Baptistry is the Archbishop's Museum, which is worth visiting. It houses masterpieces like the Ivory Pulpit, thought to have belonged to Archbishop Massimiano, the Easter calendar and mosaics from the Chapel of S. Andrea and the Archbishop's Chapel. After you've left the museum, cross Piazza Duomo to get to the Duomo di Ravenna.
In the very heart of the city, a broad selection of restaurants and delis is at your fingertips. Ravenna is not the best place to be on a diet, unless you have unshakeable willpower so you can resist Emilia Romagna's delicacies like sliced meats, squacquerone cheese, tagliatelle pasta with ragout, meat, fish and seafood from the many local canals, like eel and frog. You can have a dessert made with mascarpone cheese with Sangiovese or Trebbiano wine to top it all off. Two good places to try local specialities are Cà De Vèn and Locanda del Melarancio in the historic centre. To try a wrap, you can go to the standing-room-only Piadina del Melarancio also in the centre, and many other great places.
After a delicious meal, your itinerary continues to Dante's Tomb. The mausoleum of the great poet has a tombstone with an overhanging oil lamp. Every September 14th, the anniversary of his death, the lamp is refilled with oil exclusively from Florence. Next to the tomb is the Basilica of San Francesco with a crypt below sea level where you can see the ancient mosaics in the floor through the limpid water. Two more important monuments to visit are the Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo and Teodorico Mausoleum, both built in honour of Theodoric the Great. The basilica houses the world's largest cycle of mosaics. The walls of the central nave are divided into three strips: the top one tells the story of the life of Christ, the middle one depicts saints and prophets and the bottom one depicts the famous Palace of Theodoric. There are many legends about the death of this barbarian king who governed for 33 years, bringing tolerance, peace and wealth, and who commissioned this Istrian stone mausoleum so that Ravenna, where he lived, would be at peace. The building has two floors and a decagon floor plan with a massive roof made from a sole block of stone, making it a unique monument.
If you have the time, you must absolutely visit the Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra, one of the most important Italian archaeological sites discovered in the last decade. Located in a vast underground chamber inside the 17th-century Church of Santa Eufemia, you can admire 14 rooms paved with marble and multicoloured mosaics belonging to a private Byzantine home from the 5th/6th century. If you'd like to explore the area around Ravenna, Faenza has the MIC (International Ceramics Museum), which illustrates the history and culture of ceramics. Infinite options await you in this ancient capital and modern city, thanks to the many last-minute holiday promotions for Ravenna.