Day 27 – Ravenna

The train passes agricultural fields on the way from Vicenza to Padua to Ferrara then Ravenna. Lots of stops with my enormous suitcase, which I needed to carry my steamer pot to the Val Taleggio. Fortunately there are friendly and helpful people all along the way to help me lug the luggage.

The rain stopped in Padua. Thankfully, I am headed toward warmer weather.

On arrival in Ravenna, I found Valentina and her welcoming gifts. I joined her with a glass of Prosecco while she told me about the places to see and best places to eat in Ravenna.

I rested a bit after the long train trip, then headed out to explore the area. I came across a shop that sold hand-stamped linens. This traditional craft is stil practiced in several places in Romagna. The Marchi family is just one of several families who practice this traditional craft. Their mangle has been in use since the 1600s. It’s wonderful that this traditional equipment has been saved and still works to produce soft and pliable fabric.

Down the street I found an area called the Zone of Silence, dedicated to Dante, who spent his last years in Ravenna.

The Florentines have always wanted Dante’s bones to rest in their city, but Ravenna refuses to give them up. Had Florence succeeded, Michelangelo would have designed Dante’s monument and surely could have come up with something more interesting than this tomb. Rebuffed from taking Dante’s remains, the Florentines are allowed to provide the oil for the lamp that lights the tomb.

During World War ll, Dante’s bones were put on this metal chest and

buried under this mound to protect them from destruction. Eighty percent (80%) of Ravenna was destroyed by bombs in World War II. Its prominence as a major seaport made it a target. It’s fortunate that so many of its buildings from the 4th and 5th centuries were not harmed.

I was disappointed by the Dante house and museum. Nothing remains of Dante’s belongings. His “house” is essentially a few rooms in a former Franciscan monastery with posters and awards given to his writings.

The museum is meant to be an immersive experience. It starts out with this digital wall to provide context, but the circles don’t remain long enough to be read, either in English or Italian, and I couldn’t figure out if motion detection caused them to change. A frustrating start.

Then a series of very dark rooms with a blast of light in the last room, supposedly simulating passing through the various scenes of the Divine Comedy, but …It needed much more time than I had patience.

In the same area is the Basilica di San Francesco.

Under the altar can be seen mosaics from the early church covered in water. Koi swim over the mosaics. Ravenna sits below sea level. Most buildings in Ravenna stand over water, including the place where I am staying.

An art exhibit on the Piazza San Francesco features faces of Dante in all manner of depiction. This one was chosen for the exhibit’s poster.

I took Valentina’s advice and ate dinner at a place called Ca’ De Ven, which specializes in Romagnola dishes.

The gnocchi was delicious but filling, and I was glad the waiter asked if I wanted to take the rest with me.

As a last visit for the evening, I went to the Battistero degli Ariani, a baptistry ordered built by Theodoric, an Ostrogoth ruler, in the fifth century. As an ariano (aryan), he and his people believed that Christ was human, not divine, until God made him his son. This mosaic on the baptistry ceiling shows Christ, looking like any other man, being baptised by John the Baptist. The old man on the left represents the River Jordan. Water is life.

Just one of the fifth century mosaics with incredible detail.

Tomorrow I visit more of Ravenna’s eight UNESCO heritage sites and see more mosaics.

1 thought on “Day 27 – Ravenna”

  1. I saw and photographed the funky mosaics at the Albany
    Bulb yesterday. Pretty cool out in the wild for free!

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