I drove south from Padua to Ravenna on the autostrada today. Italian highways are, in my experience, as good as any in Europe (or the US) and the drivers are as good as any, too. Italian drivers have a bad reputation, but to me European drivers in general follow too close and pass to frequently. It's not just in Italy. I arrived at the old city around noon and set out immediately to see the sights. Ravenna is famous for its Byzantine-style church mosaics, created 1500 years ago when the Eastern half of the former Roman Empire briefly held sway in this area. Here are a couple of photos of a clean-shaven Christ, the usual way he was represented prior to the Middle Ages (see photos). In the first he is the Good Shepherd and in the second he is Lord of the Earth surrounded by angels. I visited the Church of San Francesco which was built, like so many churches, on the site of a former church. In the crypt is a floor of Roman-era mosaics, but the water table has risen and there is now a pool of water, complete with goldfish, under the church's altar (see photo). The
last place I visited is the tomb of Dante. The greatest poet in Italian history is buried here rather than in his native Florence because he was exiled after his writings offended the rich and powerful. He spent a good deal of his life in Ravenna and so Ravenna has the honor of being his final resting place (see photo).
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