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Report 1968: A Month in Venice

By BJinNM from New Mexico, Fall 2011

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Page 23 of 28: October 28, 2011 Ravenna Part 2

photo by Alan Firestone

S. Apollinare in Classe

Well, we are back from Ravenna. We missed posting for two days because our HP Touchpad decided to update the WiFi and then we couldn't connect again. Then last night we were just too tired!

We are pretty sure that we forgot to mention that we went to La Fenice the night before we went to Ravenna in order to hear the Orchestra Filarmonica della Fenice. We were in the very top tier and could almost touch the ceiling. It was amazing to be that close to all the filigree and murals on the ceiling and around the outside of the ceiling. They played the overture to Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Mozart Symphony No.40 and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. Alan's violin benefactor Francesco played in the orchestra so Alan got to talk to him at intermission.

Ravenna has some of the most pristine, intact, amazing mosaics we have ever seen! We went to eight different places including two museums, a mausoleum or two and several churches. For a small town of about 160,000 people, it is packed with things to do. Luckily we spent two nights there. The B&B Galla Placidia was very well located and Gabriella, the host, was wonderful and had great suggestions for us. Unluckily, it rained the entire time we were there, so we didn't get to take advantage of the terrace connected to our room.

To continue after our short entry the other night, we went out at about 8:30pm looking for some pizza since we had had such a large lunch. Ravenna at night is so quiet you could hear a pin drop, but what we did hear was a wine bar named Cabrinini (or something like that) which was off a side street and was really rocking. Usually we avoid places like this like they carried the plague, but Alan decided he wanted to eat there. It was full of 20-somethings drinking, eating and having a great time. We had our pizza and a salad with really good tuna, and left the party to go on without us.

The next day we took the city bus out to S. Apollinare in Classe. It is about 20 minutes outside of town and has absolutely fantastic mosaics. Alan was able to hold steady enough to take loads of pictures since you can't use flash in any of these places. We came back, went to S. Apollinare Nuovo, the Battistero degli Ariani, past the Palazzo di Teodorico, took a very long walk to Theodoric's mausoleum, then walked back to Neonian Baptistery and finally to the Museo Archivescovile and the Oratorio di Sant'Andrea. We covered a huge amount of territory and saw a great deal of the mosaics in situ in Ravenna.

That evening we went to Trattoria al Gallo, which was recommended to us by a friend. It's decor is turn of the 19th to 20th century, the service was excellent and we had a great meal. We started with a spicy sausage and onion appetizer, then Alan had risotto with truffles and Parmesan and I had baccala with polenta. Alan then had trippa (or tripe for you non-Italian speakers) in a tomato sauce with polenta, which he decided was not as good as the trippa alla Fiorentina which we had in 2008. We finished it all off with a custard-like, chocolate delight and meringues and biscotti. Luckily we only had a short walk back to our B&B as we were exhausted from the days activities.

We took the train yesterday morning to Bologna. I am not sure why but Bologna makes me very anxious. We have been there twice and it has happened both times. Few places do this to me so I don't know why this happens. We crossed the street from the rail station with the idea that we would take the "Red Bus" tour around the city and have lunch at a nice place. It is a hop on, hop off bus. However, we had an almost two hour wait as it doesn't run during lunch time so we settled for a surprisingly good pizza from Pizza Leggere which is part of Bar Bistro in the complex across from the station. It was a pizza bianchi with truffle oil, porcini mushrooms and cheese.

We then got the red bus tour right in front of the restaurant. The tour was disappointing in that, by this time, we didn't have the time to get on and off, and the bus whizzed by places so quickly you were not sure, even with English recorded commentary, what you were seeing. It was a way to kill an hour however. We got to the rail station about 1 1/2 hours before our train to Venice left, so we sat on the binario (platform) and read. The train ride was uneventful and we were in our cozy apartment by 7. Dinner was sandwiches, we did a load of clothes, and then caught up on two days worth of e-mail, Facebook, etc. No idea what we are doing today except that we have to go to the grocery because we are out of necessities!

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