Ravenna is the city of art “par excellence”: it has antique origins and a glorious past having been three times the capital: of the Western Roman Empire (beg.V cent.), the Roman –Barbarian Kingdom of Theoderico (end V cent.) and finally the seat of power to Byzantium in the West through the Exarchate (mid VI cent.)
Eight monuments in Ravenna are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and hold the richest heritage of mosaics dating from the fifth and sixth centuries. Here you can enjoy the visit to the byzantine basilica of San Vitale which has been defined by the Huffington Post one of 19 most beautiful sacred places in the world. Learning about its ancient history, admiring the mosaics that cover its apse and walking along the unusual octagonal perimeter are moments of a unique experience of contact with a sublime beauty. Besides other extraordinary places are the Catholic Baptistery, one of the most ancient monuments in Ravenna dating back to the early 5th century and the small Mausoleum of the Roman Empress Galla Placidia: its countless mosaic stars of the dome have fascinated and inspired many artists and visitors of Ravenna including the famous jazz player Cole Porter who wrote the well-known song “Night and Day” after visiting. In the past also Marguerite Yourcenar, Sigmund Freud, Herman Hesse and many other important authors visited the church of S.Apollinare Nuovo (one church for two religions), S.Apollinare in Classe, the Baptistery of the Arians and its beautiful Romanesque churches, the cylindrical campaniles of the tenth and eleventh centuries, the astonishing frescoes by Pietro da Rimini of Santa Chiara (Giotto painting school) today at National Museum , the places of ultimate refuge of Dante Alighieri, buildings and cloisters of Renaissance architecture left by the Venetians and eighteenth century palaces in the centre.
Besides the new discovery of Domus of Stone Carpets together with the archaeological area of the ancient port of Classe are “treasures” to be absolutely visited!!
Ravenna is also a dynamic city claiming its place as a cultural and artistic centre.
The province of Ravenna for all year round enjoyment
If we start from the mosaic city of Ravenna and from Cervia a lively town long associated with its salt called also the “white gold” , we discover a 50 km long beach of golden sand; continuing through the natural surroundings of the Po Delta and Vena del Gesso Romagnola (Chalk Vein Regional Parks) we rediscover the appeal of the past in the villages of Bassa Romagna and Terre di Faenza: castles fortresses beautiful medieval villages like Brisighella dominated by three rocky peaks. Brisighella is also an ancient medieval thermal village and it is the gem of the luxuriant river Lamone valley. A hospitable town rich in traditions herbs, architectural and naturalistic beauties which has won the most prestigious awards certifying its excellences and its quality of life of i Borghi più belli d’Italia.
Its D.o.p. olive oil called “Brisighello” is very good and requested.
Lovers of trekking and mountain bikes can visit the Vena del Gesso Romagnola Park or Riolo Terme s.p.a. (thermal village) with its impressive Rocca Sforzesca. Riolo Terme is the ideal place to regain health and a state of physical and bodily well being. All the area is ideal for walking and jogging.
In Lugo di Romagna the Rocca Estense still commands all the territory.
In Bagnara di Romagna the Rocca dei Riario-Sforza is a fortification with medieval and of the Renaissance characteristics and savour of local cuisine with its simple and authentic flavours.
In summer Ravenna is the best place for entertainment and relax on its nine beaches not only during the day but also at night-time thanks to the extended opening hours of resorts, bars and restaurants as well as to great events for both adults and children – Enjoy during the summer Pink Night, Riviera Beach games, Spiagge Soul and Marina Flower.
The cultural side of a dynamic and ambitious city
Ravenna Festival is a multidisciplinary and international event of classical music, poetry, theatre which takes place in the city from April to October. “Mosaico di notte” (Ravenna by night) offers night guided tours to best famous monuments.
The International Festival of Organ Music in the wonderful basilica of San Vitale, the concerts and meetings of Ravenna Bella di Sera which will take place in the main squares of Piazza del Popolo and Piazza San Francesco and in other public places and L’Antico Porto al Chiaro di Luna at the ancient port of Classe at about five km from Ravenna city centre are the most interesting events in Ravenna summertime.
The season will end with the festivals Settembre Dantesco and Dante 2021 dedicated to the Father of Italian language Dante Alighieri.
Dante2021 dedicates all its celebrations to VII centenary of his death (1321-2021)
Ravenna: ultimate refuge of Dante Alighieri
In Ravenna Dante Alighieri “the Father of Italian Language” spent his last three years of his life invited by Guido Novello Podestà of Ravenna during XIV cent.
In Ravenna he died in 1321 after writing the Paradise.
His tomb is a very simple neoclassical temple built in 1780 and is situated in one of the most charming corners in the heart of the “silence zone” of the city among ancient Franciscan cloisters and a garden with two important sarcophagi dating back to V-VI cent.
His tomb is an emblem of Ravenna as “the City of Dante” .
Every year the month of September is dedicated to its cult and memory: many events and celebrations take place: readings, conferences, musical, poetry and dance performances. The most interesting is the ceremony of the oil delivery from the Municipality of Florence to the votive lamp inside the little temple.
Discovering Ravenna by bike
You can visit Ravenna also by bike along different routes which leave from the heart of the city, a large area of which is Controlled Traffic Zone – to the sea and the countryside including natural areas Po Delta Park and the hills.
Nature and Environment Parks and Nature Reserves: San Vitale and Classe Pinewoods
The pinewood of San Vitale is the largest and northern most part of the green belt that used to separate the city of Ravenna from the sea. In the pinewood, wet lowlands alternate with higher areas derived from ancient ranges of sand dunes (the so-called “staggi”). Clearings open in the middle of a pine, ash, white poplar and oak forest, where many trees are immersed in water to the trunk.
The luxuriant undergrowth of the forest is rich in thorn trees, blackthorns, dogwoods, brooms, butcher’s brooms, asparagus, mushrooms, dog roses and other plant species.
The Pinewoods of Classe and San Vitale, included in the natural heritage of the Po Delta Park a few decades ago, have always belonged to the local cultural heritage and traditions and are consequently protected by regulations.
A number of marked trails and rest areas (Ca’ Vecia and Ca’ Nova) equipped with observation points are scattered throughout the pinewood. In particular, some of the paths start from the Centre for Environmental Education of the Park located in Ca’ Vecia car park and lead to the heart of the pine forest and to Pialassa Baiona. From this point it is possible to go through the pinewood on foot or by bike and visit the tiny Church of Madonna del Pino, cross the bridges on Fossatone Canal, reach the wetlands and finally watch herons, coots and ducks.
Famous poets and painters got inspirations from them for their masterpieces: Sandro Botticelli, Boccaccio, Oscar Wilde and Gabriele D’Annunzio.
Another way of visiting the forest is riding a horse. Ridings are organized by riding schools and farms of the pinewood and of the nearby countryside.
Beyond the wonderful cultural heritage and amazing landscape Ravenna is a city full of ancient culinary specialties and welcoming hospitality.
Soups and broth occupy a prominent position in the local menu: tagliatelle, lasagne, strozzapreti with the traditional meat sauce; golden coloured passatelli, fragrant of parmesan and nutmeg; cappelletti (little hats) exquisitely stuffed with cheese, with meat sauce or broth. All pasta dishes of Romagna menu are made with homemade pasta and therefore are famous and very requested. Further traditional dishes are pork meat, mainly grilled on wood embers, often accompanied by the “oil dip” (a mixture of raw and fresh vegetables, to dip in salt and oil).
Also coldcuts are the most delicious in Italy: “Mora Romagola” (a celebrated Romagna breed of pig) pancetta salami prosciutto mortadella to taste with “piadina” and a glass of good Sangiovese (red wine)
In coastal towns (but in the city too) you can taste the “risotto alla marinara”, tagliolini with seafood, spaghetti with clam sauce and many varieties of fish and shellfish of the Adriatic sea.
Do not forget to ask for “Piadina” (a sort of warm and fragrant bread without yeast) which is served with both fish and meat dishes, often accompanied by the unforgettable soft cheese “scquaquerone” and caramelized figs.
Local wines perfectly match our food tradition: Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Pagadebit and the genuine and traditional sweets such as biscuits, tortelli stuffed with jam, donuts and pies, to be dipped in sweet wines like the white Albana or as the red Cagnina.