Just a quick post on Ravenna. It is Sunday morning, we are going to Mass and then the palio festivities – it is supposed to rain this afternoon, so I don’t know how that will affect everything..but I just bought two umbrellas from the African umbrella peddler (he asked for 5 E, I got him down to 2 for 6 – go me. Maybe they will last the day. If there is no heavy wind.)
So, Saturday, we went to Ravenna. Learn why Ravenna is important here. One of the many, many art books my parents had when I was growing up was one on the mosaics of Ravenna, so it has always been on my radar.
We got a late start, and in order to get back at a decent hour, we couldn’t see everything I had wanted, but okay. We saw a lot. I did take photos and will post a few here, but honestly, to get a sense of the glory of these mosaics, just find professional photos online – much more illuminating than my poor attempts!
Ravenna is quite oriented toward tourists. It’s popular in and of itself, of course, but also as a cruise ship excursion. So it was pretty crowded, but not uncomfortably so. We caught a 12:15 train from Ferrara and were there about 1:30. Found the tourist office, ate lunch, which came to a very reasonable 13.50 Euros for all of us (1 small foccaccio/salami sandwich, 1 pretty big salami/cheese/lettuce wrap, 1 big piece of pizza, 1 small black rice salad and 2 waters.), and then went in search of mosaics.
Baptistry of Neon. My photos cannot communicate the glory of these mosaics and the experience of standing surrounded by 1500-year old expressions of faith, still as vibrant as when they were first created. The tower is not the baptistry, but the bell tower next to the duomo, which is next to the baptistry.
San Vitale. Built in the 6th century, famed for, among other things, the images of Justinian and Theodora as well as this image of a beardless Christ as judge.
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Probably never actually used as a burial place, it is an absolute jewel. Because it is small, you can see the mosaics at close range. This is St. Lawrence. If you look up more information on the site, you can see close images of the decorative mosaic, which is intricate, shimmering abstracts.
Sant’Appolinare Nuova. Built by Theodoric, and therefore Arian in origin. Read more about it here. Fascinating visual litany of saints along the sides, men on one side, women on the other, mirroring, I would imagine, the division of sexes during worship, energetic magi, and a weird, but probably inevitable, given the dynamics of change and time, of Byzantine and Baroque.
Interesting also, but not for mosaics, was San Francesco, an ancient basilica with a flood crypt…and goldfish.
We did not, unfortunately, make it out to either the Arian baptistry or Sant’Appolinare in Classe. Both are outside of the historic center – the latter requiring a train or bus ride – and it just didn’t work out with a decent return to Ferrara.
It was too bad, because I would love to have seen both. But returning when we did, we were able to see other worthwhile sites.
Pink marble, extra rosy in the setting sun.
Market day prep.
People getting along at the end of the day.
(Camera died at the end of the second one)