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Everyone Raves about Ravenna


Ravenna is another city that has received absolutely rave reviews and is at the very top of my list of places that I have to see when I travel to Italy in June.
The above photo is taken from the website of Ravennamosaici, a wonderful source of information about the city of Ravenna, its history and -- of course -- its enormous wealth of stunning mosaics. (That, and the other two photos I have borrowed from this site, are taken inside the Basilica of San Vitale.)

San Vitale has been described as among the most important monuments of early Christian art in Italy, and is perhaps best known for its magnificent mosaics, strongly influenced by Byzantine artists. This, I find fascinating. In fact, the Byzantine influence reportedly dominates much of the architecture throughout Ravenna. The basilica, built on a central octagonal plan, was founded by Giulianus Argentarius, commissioned by Bishop Ecclesius and consecrated by the Archbishop Maximian in 548.



Ravenna itself has a fascinating history. It once served as the seat of the Western Roman Empire and later the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths and the Exarchate of Ravenna. It's a bit unclear who the earliest settlers were, perhaps the Umbrians. Ravenna originally consisted of homes built on piles on a series of small islands in a marshy lagoon , something like Venice's development some centuries later. In 49 BC, Ravenna was the site where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon. The city later become an important military harbour, and remained a seaport on the Adriatic until the early Middle Ages (which helps to explain the Eastern influences in the city.)

Eight early Christian monuments in Ravenna, which were built over 1500 years, have been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Clearly, I'll have a lot to see during my visit there.

I believe that I will make day trips to both Padua and to Ravenna, from either Bologna (where I'll stay for a week) or from Ferrara, where I'll spend 3 days and nights. I'll have to carefully check the Trenitalia schedules to see what times and routes make the most sense.

Comments (13)

This sounds like a plan. I would love to visit Ravenna too.


Ah Sandra, I am dying to see Ravenna and those gorgeous mosaics!! Do you have a place picked out yet for your few days in Ferrara? I had considered staying there last October, and had thought this apartment sounded great:
http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/66901. The owners are an Australian woman and her Italian husband. She seemed very friendly in our email exchange.

Ravenna's high on my wish list too. I enjoyed reading Kathy (Trek Capri)'s trip report about the day trip she took there from Venice a couple of years ago. Those mosaics look pretty gobsmacking! :)

I have visited Ravenna once before I had a digital camera. I would love to go back to get some great photos of the beautiful mosaics. I am sure you will really enjoy your visit to Ravenna. The churches are amazing!


Candi, with your ability to travel, I'm sure you'll get there.
Anne, thanks for the tip. But I have booked at Ferrara's Albergo Annunziata (which Marian liked very much.) They've given me a good price and for 3 nights, I'll probably stick with that. Still, I can never resist looking at apartments....

Annie, I'm sure I'll be "gob-smacked!" And I must go back through Kathy's trip report to see her photos from Ravenna.


I really enjoyed Ravenna. Besides the glorious mosaics, it's a charming small city with a very walkable core, good food, and an easy charm.

Sandra, I've wanted to visit Ravenna because the Ravenna artisans were commissioned to do the mosaics in the St. Louis' new cathedral. The result is the largest collection of mosaics in the US. I'd love to see the source of their training and inspiration someday.


Girasoli, with your talent, I know you'd come back with fantastic photos!

Amy, Ravenna sounds delightful -- I may have trouble picking a favourite spot after this trip.

Deborah, I hadn't heard about St. Louis cathedral -- it must have a remarkable collection if it was inspired by Ravenna masters. I've also wanted to see Ravenna for a long time, so even planning this is pretty exciting

The artwork in Ravenna looks beautiful. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time there.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, so glad you are going to Ravenna. The mosaics are amazing! And I agree with Amy, the town itself is very charming. You will really enjoy yourself there. I enjoyed reading about Ravenna's history. It's been awhile so I have forgotton. Very interesting and another great reason to visit!

And you will also enjoy Ferarra. I was actaully inspired to visit there after seeing Marian's photo album from her trip. You will enjoy your visit there too!

I haven't really thought yet about my trip, but reading your plans is inspiring me to start thinking!

Have fun and enjoy the rest of your trip planning!


This is stunning... I had no idea...

Like Girasoli, I went to Ravenna in my pre-digital travels and it's a city I'm longing to return. The mosaics are amazing and the city oozes charm.


Thanks Cindy Ruth, I'm sure it will be fabulous, and quite unlike anything I've seen before.

Dana, I'm not sure I had realized how much art there is in Ravenna until I began my research!

Kathy, Maria, I'm so glad to hear that you've both enjoyed Ravenna -- I'm sure it will be incredible. (Maria, I love the idea of it 'oozing charm'!)

Kathy, I'm going to look back at your trip report to see your photos as well as Marian's.

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