Appointed capital of empires and reigns three times throughout its long history, housing eight World Heritage Sites and candidate for European Capital of Culture 2019, Ravenna isn’t considered the typical medium-sized “Italian province” as we know it.
One city, three kingdoms
First designated capital of the Roman West Empire (402-403 A. D.), the Goths also chose to elect Ravenna as their capital city in 493 A.D.
A few years later the Byzantines couldn’t resist its beauty and richness and, once again, Ravenna became a capital city, holding on to the position for around 200 years.
Such aristocratic origins have left an elegant, imposing legacy in terms of art and, more specifically, mosaic art.
Throughout its long history, Ravenna has been considered the worldwide capital for mosaic art; the art of combining little pieces of coloured glass and precious stones into refined and inimitable designs which have endured the passage of time, weather and wars.
The proof can be found in a tour of the eight Unesco World Heritage Sites:
Mausuleo Galla Placidia
Basilica Sant’Apollinare Nuovo
Basilica Sant’Apollinare in Classe
Basilica San Vitale
Ravenna: Gorillas and George Lord Byron’s love life
Do you think all this history means that Ravenna might be lacking a more human, emotional side?
Well, the curious events that have taken place there might help to ease away these doubts.
The young Lord Byron used to ride wild horses in the green fields of the local countryside and be inspired by Ravenna’s stimulating historical atmosphere. But that’s not all…
He played the role of “cavalier servente” to the brilliant, young wife of Conte Guiccioli, a title bestowed on Byron as the official “on-duty lover”.
The unusual trio- Teresa, her husband and her lover- lived together for a few years until Count Guiccioli denounced the wild British poet, who was becoming increasingly involved with the Italian revolutionary group, the “Carbonari”.
The sad, romantic story of the impossible love between Lord Byron and Teresa is just one of the intriguing legends and tales of Ravenna.
Coming back to present day, Ravenna was also the setting for a group of gorilla statues, placed right in front of the “Palazzo di Giustizia” (Ministry of Justice), which was a source of many jokes and also reflection.
Animal aggressivity aggression towards against human ethics?
A reminder of our origins?
An accusation of humanity’s cruelty?
The statues are open to interpretation.
Maybe the fact that they raised so many questions and caused some to reflect, can be regarded as a great success.
Ever wanted to know what primitive swamps look like?
A long time ago, the Pianura Padana lawns and swamps reached these faraway lands.
Remains of the flooded areas can still be visited in the reserves and parks surrounding Ravenna.
A visit to Punte Alberete and Valle Mandriole, the north and south areas along the Lamone river, takes you back in time to when men moved travalled along the flooded praires on flat boats and earned their living by fishing. The fishermen lived in the large straw huts you can still admire along the water ponds.
The area is protected as it is home to many autoctone floral and faunistic species.
For guided tours contact:
Museo NatuRa, Sant’Alberto (Ra) tel (0039) 0544.528710
IAT Ravenna tel. (0039) 0544 35404-35755
Squacquerone cheese, piadina, and all kinds of soups…
Every food has its own special character in Italy: can you resist the spicy tomato flavour of real lasagne? And the creamy squacquerone cheese melting out of a golden piadina?
Not to miss the home- made cappelletti: a local ravioli which is said to be modelled after Venus’ navel.
You can try it in a delicious chicken brooth, the perfect meal for windy days or, alternatively, served with a generous dose of Parmigiano cheese.
Desserts are no less enticing: biscuits, marmalade tartes and tortelli with Vignola cherry filling, that all come with Albana and Cagnina wines
When in Ravenna you can stay at Hotel Diana room starting from € 57 per night and B&B Capra e Cavoli rooms starting from € 60 per night. For an unusual experience, you can stay in the Ravenna countryside in a house built entirely in straw bales, in the cozy B&B Al Gufo Saggio.