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A day in Ravenna.


Just a day is enough to see the most important momunets in Ravenna. We went there in the Autumn. By chance, and just because of our visit to Milan. I had know nothing about this city except that it was in Emilia-Romagna.

Ravenna is elegant, I think it’s a good adjective to describe the town. It’s also a popular tourist destination, not only among Italians. However, what sets Ravenna apart from other popular destinations in Italy is that it seems that tourists there have more specific interests than just going here and there. Even if Ravenna was full of tourists, they were more focused on sightseeing, calmer, there weren’t also any stalls with Made in China souvenirs like in Venice, for example. It’s hard to describe, but it was just a different crowd than in other places I’ve been to. Still, Ravenna is a popular tourist destination. If you want to avoid crowds, visit the sights in the morning or at lunchtime.



The town is a nice place for a walk, and probably one or two days will be enough to see it. There are many nice places to sit down, have coffee and just enjoy watching people passing by. The main square in Ravenna, called Piazza del Popolo, is just an ideal spot for this.

What to see in Ravenna.

Ravenna is best known for its fantastic early Christian and Byzantine mosaics (UNESCO World Heritage Site) dating back to when Ravenna was the capital of the Western Empire.

Ravenna is famous for the mosaics.

I believe every tourist in Ravenna see mosaics and hosting them churches. I visited 3 of the churches, but if you want to visit more, you can buy a combined ticket giving you acces to 5 kirks (back then the price was €8.50).

The most impressive is undoubtedly the Basilica of San Vitale. Built between 526 and 547 building looks very simple and ordinary from the outside.



Basilica of San Vitale.


Inside however it is rich in marble and mosaics that illustrate scenes from the Old Testament. Others show scenes with Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora.

Basilica of San Vitale inside.


The ceiling of the Basilica of San Vitale.

Next to the basilica is the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (Mausoleo di Galla Placidia). Galla Placida was the daughter, sister, wife, and mother of Roman emperors. Of course, being from the family of Roman emperors wasn’t always the guarantee of a long and fantastic life, as some of them had a tendency of dying in weird circumstances. However, she was the lucky one. She had a good and colorful life. This building was built as her grave, but she died in Rome.

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.

The mausoleum is very small so it is difficult to move when there are many people. Even so, the mausoleum is worth visiting just because of the ceiling.

The ceiling in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.


It’s painted in a dark blue colour with small gold stars, the cross in the center and symbols of the evangelists in each corner.

Battistero Neoniano, the octagonal building was a baptistery built in the early 5th century. Inside, it is decorated with marbles, sculptures, and mosaics.

Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo with mosaics depicting processions of martyrs and virgins leaving Ravenna.

The last church you can visit with the same ticket is Cappella Arcivescovil also called Cappella di Sant’Andrea with mosaics from the 6th century.

With another combo ticket, you can visit:

Mausoleo di Teodorico (Mausoleum of Theodoric), Museo Nazionale and Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe.

As I wrote in one of my posts, I think Italians are sign-phobic. You can experience it everywhere. On the road, trying to find a trace, as well as in Italian museums. The museums in Ravenna are a perfect example of this. The routes are not marked, you have no idea if you have visited all the rooms, it is difficult to locate the exhibits, etc. However, if you like surprises and you have time, it is worth visiting one or two museums.

There are other things to see, for example, the old town Rocca Brancaleone fortress now has a small park within its walls with a cafe and a playground for children.

Next to it is the tomb of Dante Alighieri, who died in Ravenna in 1321.

In addition to the many monuments, there are many special events in Ravenna. The tourist information office publishes and distributes a news magazine, so if you are interested in an activity, the office is a good place to find out about it.

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