Ravenna Today

St Appolinaire in Classe
St Appolinaire in Classe

OK, no more history–well just a little.  We need to spend just a moment in the 13th CE and remember that Darante degli Alighieri, better known as Dante, (1265-1321) spent the last five years of his life in Ravenna exiled from his beloved Firenze. Dante poster The Florentines have tried over the years to get his bones back home but have failed to do so.  They finally built a beautiful cenotaph for him in the late 19th CE which remains empty because the Ravenna caretakers won’t give him up.  There is a very pretty little chapel in Ravenna and a sarcophagus where he lies near the church where his funeral was held.

Dante's mausoleum in Ravenna
Dante’s mausoleum in Ravenna

Ravenna, like Dante, was treated rather badly after its heyday in the 6th CE.  First annexed to Venice in 1440, then sacked by the French in 1512, it then it became a Papal State and was left alone to molder in the boonies which had one positive effect: the mosaics and the churches and other monuments were left alone as well.  In the early 17thCE there was a big flood in the area.  In its aftermath the city fathers drained all the canals and swamps and opened the newly available fertile land up to farming.   Ravenna became a city self-sufficient and isolated but muddling along.

Ravenna today is lovely.  Everyone rides bicycles.  They say Ravennans don’t have thumbs which prevents them from ringing the bell on their bike as a warning.  There were numerous times we were almost hit or changed our pace or direction and almost collided with a cyclist.  Still it’s wonderful to have so few cars in the small town with narrow winding streets.

herd of bikes in Ravenna

The stores are well stocked and trendy.  Prices are modest.  The environs are clean and relatively graffiti free.  Ravennans love their city.  It is a pleasure to visit.  The sights are clean and well staffed by polite people many of whom speak English.  You can get a pass to the six in-town sights for 9.50E which is good for two days.  The walk out to Theodoric’s mausoleum is an easy 20 minutes and along the way you’ll see the old walls of the city and the fortress with a pretty park and playground which families and tourists enjoy.

Walls of old fortress in Ravenna
Walls of old fortress in Ravenna

The bus ride to St. Apollinaire in Classe runs frequently (#4 or #44) and costs about $5 for a round trip.  It runs from the center of town to Classe about 20 minutes away.

The train station is within easy walking distance or a short taxi ride from any part of Ravenna.  There are a few modest hotels, some 3*** and two 4**.  All very fairly priced.  And many excellent restaurants.  Our favorite was Ca’ de Ven; we also liked Temp Perso and Alexander’s.

We stayed eight nights at Palazzo Bezzi a freshly renovated hotel in a pretty room with two big windows with a view of the interior garden.   It was quiet and pretty and one of the nicest of all our accommodations since leaving Seattle.  The staff was superb, the breakfast lavish, and the price more than fair for the value received.

I guess I have nothing bad to say about Ravenna.  After two months of travel, that’s huge.

Teatro Alighieri Ravenna