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Lovers of mosaics will find themselves in raptures over Ravenna. The rest of us who didn’t particularly feel either way about mosaics before our visit will also find ourselves unexpectedly in raptures. The simple fact is that Ravenna will charm, astound and delight with the stunning mosaics that are situated across several churches and baptisteries around town. Recognised for their beauty and significance by the UNESCO World Heritage list, Ravenna’s mosaics were created in just 300 years from 402 AD onwards. These gold, emerald and sapphire masterpieces have enraptured Dante and Byron and they will do the same to you.
City Centre - Piazza del Popolo is the heart of Ravenna and this elegant 15th century square is filled with cafe tables that make it the perfect spot to people watch and soak up the atmosphere. Wander a little to reach the Duomo, Baptistry and the Tomba di Dante, the resting place of the Italian poet who described Ravenna’s mosaics as “a symphony of colour”.
San Vitale - The main attractions of Ravenna are just northwest of its centre, clustered around the basilica of San Vitale. You will find them in the Byzantine church of San Vitale itself, the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia and in the former cloisters of San Vitale that is now the stunning Museo Nazionale.
Sant’Apollinare in Classe - More fine mosaics can be found in this church that is a few miles south of Ravenna and occupies the site of an ancient port.
Porto Corsini and Around - Not far from Ravenna are some attractive seaside resorts that include Porto Corsini, Casalborsetti and Marina Romea. Here you can enjoy a spot of seclusion, tuck into a picnic and watch the birds of the nearby Po Delta nature reserve.
Things to See in Ravenna
The unparalleled mosaics are the big attraction here - make sure you include a visit to Sant’Apollinare in Classe as well as appreciating those clustered around San Vitale. People watch in the elegant Piazza del Popolo and pay your respects to the Italian poet at the Tomba di Dante.
The best spot in Ravenna for an atmospheric drink is in the collection of tables that fill the centre of the town’s main square, the Piazza del Popolo. To discover more about Dante and the mosaics of the town there are a few very informative museums to deepen your appreciation. If you head out to a seaside resort for a picnic and spot of birdwatching you should stop off at Capanno Garibaldi, near Porto Corsini, which is a reconstruction of the hut that hid the national hero on his epic escape from Rome.
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