I never gave Ravenna a second thought before now but it actually has a very rich and varied history. I will leave you to Google the details but the bits I retained from my reading are; Dante is buried there after being exiled from Florence, Byron lived there for a while, Oscar Wilde wrote a poem about it, it used to be a lot like Venice until the Venetians filled in its canals, the original city is now between 3-7m under the current one, it is slowly sinking into the marshland, it used to be a major Roman port directly on the Adriatic but is now inland, Gaston de Foix a significant French military leader died there in the Battle of Ravenna, Garibaldi’s Brazilian wife died in a village very close to it of malaria while carrying their fifth child, it was the capital of the Western Roman Empire just before its downfall and then went on to be capital for other people like Goths, Franks, Lombards, Byzantines…. lost track a bit with this but it was a cool place for a few hundred years.
These days at least as far as tourists like us are concerned it is known for having possibly the world’s finest collection of early Christian mosaics still in situ. A ticket for 9.50 Euro gets you entry to five places – churches, baptistries and a museum – all an easy walk from each other in the city centre. Dante’s tomb is also en route. The mosaics date from the early 400’s AD and show all manner of exciting things like Christ with a beard and Christ without one, Christ the shepherd, Christ being baptized, and so on and so forth.
For a person who goes to church on a Sunday and decided that mosaic tiles were the best choice in the shower, this place is a must see! For us it was interesting and another UNESCO site ticked off but we were happy the ticket only covered five places.
We added the Dante museum to the agenda as it is right next to the tomb. Worth a look. Also, be sure to look in the small garden to the right of Dante’s tomb where you can see the small pile of overgrown dirt where they buried his bits during WWII to make sure they were safer than staying in the tomb. Bit of a half hearted effort given the lengths that were gone to with his bits in a wooden box shortly later his death.