26 Oct Postcards from Ravenna, the City of Mosaics
Back to the city of mosaics, to discover the essence of Ravenna
I first visited Ravenna last year on a day trip from Bologna, where I spent two weeks to discover the beauty of the Emilia-Romagna region. I had been wishing to admire the Byzantine mosaics for a long time but never managed to go, and with a single day, there was not much time to get a more comprehensive idea of the city beyond the mind-blowing ancient sites.
Although often overlooked by international tourists, Emilia-Romagna is a beautiful region where you can readily feel a warm and friendly hospitality (some time ago, I wrote about 10 reasons to add Emilia-Romagna to your travel bucket list, and the truth is that the region’s appeal is much more than that). Dotted with lovely smaller cities like colorful Parma, the wonderful UNESCO WHS of Modena, or elegant Ferrara, each one of them worth a longer stay, it’s one of the areas worth going back again and again.
So I returned to Ravenna, the city of mosaics, this time, to spend a few days, experience the daily life of this charming city and crystallize it through my camera, sharing my favorites postcards.
The elegant Piazza del Popolo
The heart of Ravenna is the elegant – and sober – Piazza del Popolo, with its elegant pastel-coloured facades and the exquisite clock tower overlooking the square. Like in most European cities, the most beautiful squares are a gathering place where people meet for a chat, events, politics and more.
Lovely cobblestone streets and colorful facades
Life looks peaceful in Ravenna and compared to the hustle-bustle of the big cities the pace here seems calmer and more human. The warm and sunny days of autumn invite for a stroll, locals enjoy a stroll along the cobblestone streets or a drink at one of the alfresco cafés in the pretty and colorful Piazza del Popolo, the heart of the city.
Bicycles and a herbalist shop not to miss
Small and flat, Ravenna is a perfect city for biking and bicycles are everywhere. There’s no better way to get local than pedaling along the many lanes and to a little exercise in a very pleasant way.
Even if you’re not into herbs, natural remedies and biological products you shouldn’t miss La Bodèga ad Giorgione, a shop with a long-standing tradition, well-known by locals and an uncommon variety of herbal teas (all home-made) for any kind of need, natural cosmetics, spices, essential oils and lots more.
Shopping is definitely not my thing but trust me, I ended up buying three different sorts of herbal tea and I refrained from purchasing more stuff only because I knew I wouldn’t have enough space in my carry-on.
Santa Maria in Porto : A Baroque jewel
Perhaps it was the deep blue sky and the beautiful light, but I could hardly stop looking at (and taking photos of) the baroque facade of the Santa Maria del Porto basilica. Although I love art, architecture, and design, I admit that of all styles baroque is one of my least favorites and that I often skip paintings or buildings from this period.
I hadn’t planned to see Santa Maria del Porto, just happened to stumble on it and ended up spending a lot of time admiring the perfect proportions and the exquisite sculptures.
The mosaics, Ravenna’s crown jewel
Enchanting and laid-back, friendly and colorful, Ravenna wouldn’t, however, be the unique destination it is without its magnificent Byzantine mosaics, one of the most beautiful UNESCO WHS I ever visited. After all, Ravenna is the city of mosaics and San Vitale, the Neonian Baptistery, Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and the Galla Placidia Mausoleum are among the finest examples of ancient art in the world.