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Published: November 9th 2017
Faces of Verona ItalyRavenna: The Beauty of Mosaics
Shopping in the market
Ravenna is town in Italy that doesn’t get much notice when you toss it in with the better-known city destinations like Venice, Florence or Rome. It is a small town nestled down the coast from Venice that is best known for its majestic mosaics in the churches and mausoleums. These absolutely lovely mosaics are UNESCO World Heritage sites and this town contains eight
of them. We find that unbelievable… 8 in one town. You’ve got to add this town to your travel list.
Here’s a quick list of the sites so you can do your own search. The Basilica of San Vitale, the Mausoleum of Galla Placida,the Arian Baptistery and the Baptisteryof Neon, the Basilicaof Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, the Oratory of Sant’ Andrea or Archiepiscopal Chapel and the Mausoleum of Theoderic.
You will also find Dante’s tomb in this town but it is a bit underwhelming. We actually walked past it a couple of times before we realized it was right there. We read that Dante finished writing “the Divine Comedy” in this town shortly before his death in 1321. You stand there and feel like…”is that it?”
And that’s all there is……
Generally speaking, we find that American travel author Rick Steves provides pretty accurate information but Rick suggested doing a day trip to Ravenna. Seriously? What was he thinking? Yes, you can do all of them in one day if you want but you’ll rush through these truly magnificent churches. As we stood looking at the mosaics we marveled at the craftsmanship. As we starred at the glistening mosaics we knew we were standing in front of something truly beautiful. This town gets more than its share of tour buses, but we would not be rushed. We would enter the church, walk around and enjoy. We’d wait until the tour group left and generally we had a few minutes before the next one flooded in. It was great having time in these amazing locations while it was not crowded.
This is another time when the pictures that are posted will not do justice to the actual site. The intricacy and workmanship required to produce these works of art can be best only observed in person. The tickets to see the majority of the mosaics are reasonably priced. The mosaic murals are constructed from small
Navigating the canals
colored stones and glass on a foundation of gold….. and mother of pearl. The ceilings of these amazing buildings look as if they are covered in jewels. It is truly an example of expert artistry and craftsmanship. We could go on an on about how much we enjoyed them but we will spare you another two thousand words that roughly say the same thing… we felt we were standing in front of true beauty. As you enjoy the mosaics you are surrounded by beauty. See....... repeating ourselves already.
We are purposefully traveling slow on this trip and stayed four nights in this village and really enjoyed our time. For most an overnight stay will be plenty. We took a cooking class and strolled the quaint streets of the pedestrian- zoned historic center. The neighborhood we stayed in could not have been any nicer, with shops and restaurants on many of the small streets and in the piazzas. It is a very easy town to navigate and once again, not hard to find a very satisfying meal. It is easy to conclude that the entire country really knows how to dine well.
Please put Ravenna on your travel list….
even if you just do the day trip. Hopefully the photos will show you how much we enjoyed our cooking class and people watching. Venice: A City Seemingly Afloat
Needless to say, when you’re touring the north of Italy, you have to find your way to Venice. It is such a storied city, the attraction of it draws people by the millions….and of course, us. You grow up with images of this city as a romantic place where people travel by gondola, floating around the city while the gondolier sings romantic songs as the sun sets……..and romance flourishes. Nice imagery, but not really the case. It is a very busy place, with tourists everywhere queuing for water taxis (think crowded boats) to visit the sites. Tossing in a couple of thousand (if not more) tourists from the daily cruise ships and the place gets down right crowded.
We secured another AirBNB which was adjacent to the train station and located in a prime spot to get around. Our apartment was nicely furnished and we were once again able to do some cooking, which we love to do. Now some may wonder why we
like to cook while in Italy, but remember….we’ve been on the road since the beginning of August and one does tire of eating out all the time, no matter how good the food may be. We like to get up in the morning and have our coffee and not worry about how long they serve breakfast in the morning.
Riding the water buses proved to be a good way to get around Venice, but a map is a must for navigating all the small streets, none of which will get you to your destination in anything resembling a straight line. The good news is that if you wander long enough, you will find the grand canal or one that connects to a grand canal. The bad news is that even though you are within sight of a water bus dock, that does not mean that you can walk to it easily. Wandering these streets is a convoluted process and can be frustrating. One day we got turned around and it took over and hour to straighten ourselves out.
We took the water bus out to Murano Island one day due to its reputation with glass creations. The reputation
is well deserved, but there are seemingly dozens and dozens of shops all competing for the tourist dollar, many with unique creations that capture your attention. A few purchases later and after having an unbelievable bowl of minestrone soup, we were back on the water taxi and back in Venice.
Right next door to our apartment, there was a very nice restaurant and once again, we found a chef willing to surprise us and cook for us. We gave him very basic parameters of what we wanted to eat and then the flood of food began to come to the table. Chefs always get creative when you give them the opportunity. We had amazing fish, langastine and fine Italian meats until it was coming out our ears. Oh… and wonderful grilled eggplant. We are in foodie heaven……..yet again.
Our third night in town we rode the water taxis in a circle after dark so we could look at all the canals. At this point we finally felt a connection to Venice and could see the beauty. The crowds were gone, restaurants were full and the city lights beamed against the water. The other highlight of this city for
us was our gondola ride, which even though touristy was a lot of fun.
We were glad that we visited Venice but left with the feeling that we would not be back….it was nice, but not our cup of tea….or should we say…our vintage of wine. Verona: Romance
Most come here in search of all things Romeo and Juliet in Verona. We watched throngs of people nuzzle their way into the small courtyard near the Cappello family home. Shakespeare used the name Capulet in his famous play which lead people to look for this family and this location in Verona. The house he described was fiction a combination of several homes but after a few years the town finally declared this house the home of the Capulet’s. There is much controversy over the facts…. remember Shakespeare was a writer and of course, was free to take liberties. Tourists line up to enter the home. None of the furniture is original but it is of the same time period. Once you get upstairs each couple gets about 30 seconds on the balcony for a kiss and a photo. We found it
interesting that there is no dispute that this balcony did not exist on the home back in the day. It was added to the structure years later to appease those who wanted to make a fictional balcony real. So….. a Romeo and Juliet type balcony was created to make people happy……and judging by the crowds….it does.
Verona is another small city that is very easy to navigate and has some very nice places to dine. We were booked at yet another AirBNB apartment and on the second afternoon, we found a gourmet pasta shop. We bought a nice bottle of red wine and also found a dessert shop. We had a wonderful meal in our apartment that night. The best of both of worlds…..quality cuisine and eating at the apartment!
The main piazza is quite nice, with many vendors and a few outdoor cafes. We strolled around the town and had a very pleasant afternoon….just like in so many previous stops in northern Italy. There is a certain quality of life here that makes the slow tourists like us really appreciate the lifestyle.
Three northern Italian cities…rather close in proximity, but yet very
pastries and pounds
unique. Our journey continues in this most beautiful nation…..
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