Ravenna, Italy. – Europe Road Trip

Day 65 – Ravenna

It was so much cooler that we actually managed to get a lie in; when we did get up it was lunch time so we had some piadinas. These are very common across this region of Italy and are kind of their version of a sandwich. It’s basically a heated wrap folded in half with cheese, hams etc inside.

We then headed into the town to the tourist office to pick up a map. I’d read about the joint entrance ticket which covers you for 5 of the top monuments. Ravenna is best known for its mosaics and houses some of the oldest and well preserved in the world. Despite neither of us being religious or having that much interest in religion, you cannot come to Ravenna without seeing some mosaics. It would be like being in Italy and not eating ice cream or pasta! You just don’t do it!

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First up we headed to the Battistero Neoniano which is one of the oldest buildings in Ravenna dating back to the 5th century. Due to this and the weight of the building its actually sunk about 10m into the ground and they’ve had to put four floors in to enable people still to walk in and stand at floor height. It’s a tiny little building but the mosaics are amazing. We then popped just round the corner into the Capella di San Andrea which is inside the museum. Now we weren’t meant to take photos so the photo below you didn’t see them ok! The museum itself had some beautiful objects including old rings and an intricately detailed ivory chair from the 6th century. I’d prefer for it to not be made out of Ivory, but you couldn’t fault the work.

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We walked back through the square to see Dante’s tomb. This is something that Ravenna are very proud to have despite him living and working in Florence.

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Ravenna itself is a beautiful little town with its little cobbled streets and lively quaint restaurants and gellaterias. I also got rather fascinated by all of the craft shops selling just about everything covered in mosaics; it’s definitely something else I want to learn how to do! Along with pottery… Maybe I’ll become a Jack of all crafts rather than trades.

On the other side of the high street is the Basilica di San Vitale; Jack walked in staring at the ceiling and said ‘There’s no mosaics in here!’. I laughed and told him to look at the floor which was covered. Slightly further round from the entrance you can also see the complete masterpiece. We were a little disappointed for the lack of information available inside the places. Normally when you pay for a ticket you can read a little about the place you’re visiting, yet in all of them today you have to pay an extra €2 to listen to information through a phone so no one else can listen without paying. Despite this, and Jack’s first thought, this Basilica has to have the most impressive for mosaics and paintings.

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Just behind this is the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia which is a tiny little place dedicated to the sister of an emperor. There are asophegus dedicated to her, her husband and son, despite none of them ever visiting and all being buried in Rome. The ceiling of this little place is decorated completely with stars and flowers which was really pretty.

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On our way back through town we stopped at the Battistero degli Ariani which is really tiny. It’s free to enter because it’s so small and like many of the others has sunk into the ground. It’s circular mosaic ceiling is quite worn and similar to the first place we visited. There were faint paintings still on some of the arches.

Our final stop on the mosaic trail was the Basilica di San Apollinaire Nuovo. It has the oldest mosaic work of the New Testimant and has a really impressive square panelled ceiling quite common in Italian churches.

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Just by our parking spot is the old port. We got a little bit fascinated by the jumping fish doing all sorts of flips out of the water the full stretch of the port and then headed home.

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Day 66 – Ravenna
We moved the van about 100m down to the port to get a stronger internet signal and then got caught up with boring life such as being further robbed by our uni. Our graduation is on the 10th of September and we’ve had to order tickets for our parentals alongside hiring robes, booking photos and getting certificates, all of which cost a bomb! It was also time to fill up on LPG which we’ve only done once this trip. To fill both our canisters was only €8, which compared to the €4 in Poland is a complete rip off! It was also time to do a little van maintenance and a quick clean. Overall, of the three days we’ve spent in Ravenna, two of them have basically been in the van. It’s so nice to just chill though.

One thing we’ve loved in some of the cities we’ve visited is the city wifi. Literally anywhere in the main town you can access a free wifi which makes your trip so much easier! Trip Advisor offline maps have been a live saver, but having internet access is simpler.

We were meant to be going to San Marino this afternoon but when we checked our car insurance it wasn’t listed as one of the countries we were covered for. As they’re quite a small company they weren’t open on Sunday’s so we thought we’d stay in Ravenna another night and ring them in the morning.

This evening we headed into town to have a nice meal out. After a quick look through trip advisor, it turns out the little piadina take away right by our parking space is rated number 4 on trip advisor. This was pretty funny considering we’ve eaten piadina’s two days we’ve been parked outside it! We opted for somewhere in town so we could wander round and some ice cream afterwards. Ravenna is the 2015 Italian Capital of Culture and since July they have had live music performances every weekend throughout the city. Our plan was to go and check it out yesterday but after our dinner it completely tipped it down so we opted for the cozy van. We sat outside and watch a New Orleans style band play which was a really nice way to end our time in Ravenna.

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Europe Road Trip - Diary Post, Day 65-66:  Ravenna, Italy.  3 Months, 7,000 miles and 15 Countries

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