Ravenna, Venice and Verona: Mosaics, Water and Romance

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September 20th 2017
Published: November 9th 2017
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Shopping in the market
Ravenna: The Beauty of Mosaics

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….
Stunning Mosaics Stunning Mosaics Stunning Mosaics

Ravenna Italy
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
Grand churchesGrand churchesGrand churches

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
The joys of fishThe joys of fishThe joys of fish

Venice Italy
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
Oh myOh myOh my

pastries and pounds
unique. Our journey continues in this most beautiful nation…..

Additional photos below
Photos: 57, Displayed: 28


Hidden Identity Hidden Identity
Hidden Identity

Verona Italy
The Gondola ExperienceThe Gondola Experience
The Gondola Experience

Touristy but fun

Future gondolier
Ravenna ItalyRavenna Italy
Ravenna Italy

Cooking class
The joy of cookingThe joy of cooking
The joy of cooking

Ravenna Italy
Wall ArtWall Art
Wall Art

Ravenna Italy
Verona Coliseum Verona Coliseum
Verona Coliseum

Ancient architecture
Mysterious canals at nightMysterious canals at night
Mysterious canals at night

We liked Venice at night better than in the daytime.

9th November 2017

Ravens etc
Beautiful pictures and I agree with you—-the best way to enjoy Italy is slowly!
9th November 2017

Italy is pure joy
I hate when I think of the weight I gained while traveling but the foods were amazing. Slow going is the way to enjoy Italy. We saw some amazing things. MJ
9th November 2017

Even reading about touring the canals and streets of Northern Italy puts us in a better mood. Of course not as good as if we were there in person. Put us down as jealous! Shopping and cooking at home in is the way to go. We can't wait to get back!
9th November 2017

Ravenna & Venice
Lovely blog full of aromas and ambient images Dave & MJ...but there was something missing. This was after we departed company in Armenia...and we were no longer with you!!!
9th November 2017

Ravenna and Venice
Nothing was the same without you. Every church we looked at we longed for you. Let us know when you want to meet us there. Next trip we hope to do southern Italy. Missing you and Denise. Let’s chat soon.
10th November 2017

Under siege
Poor Venice, sinking into the water and now sinking under cruise ship hordes. On our first day there, we really struggled with Venice until the wave upon wave of pushy cruise ship people with their oversized golf umbrellas went back to their ships for dinner. We found ways to work around them, but really felt under siege...so I totally understand how annoyed the locals feel. Keep those food photos coming! :)
10th November 2017

Under siege
Yes we found ways to work around the hordes of people whether they were cruisers or not. More food photos coming.
11th November 2017

Jumping on the crowd wagon
Not to speak ill of crowds, but I am so glad you were able to find some quiet time and appreciate the beauty that Venice has to offer. Your blog was beautiful, but as always, it is the food pictures that draw me in. What a wonderful time you had.
11th November 2017

Jumping on the crowd wagon
We truly enjoyed our time in Italy....the food photos were meant to get your attention. Thanks for reading along.
11th November 2017
Venice canals

I loved Venice
I loved Venice and this photo takes me back. Ravenna and Verona are also on my to-see-list now thanks to you. /Ake
11th November 2017
Venice canals

Loved Venice
Venice is one of the more scenic cities in the world. The canals are amazing. it was interesting to watch everything in the world on boats... garbage collection, cement trucks etc. You must go to Ravenna and Verona.... lovely.
11th November 2017

Three Italian City Gems
Indeed, three very contrasting cities, very interesting to read about. Italy just astounds me in the amount of history and beauty which constantly surrounds the visitor. I'm glad you were able to enjoy it at a slow pace :)
11th November 2017

Three Italian City Gems
I agree that Italy is astounding in history and beauty. The local embrace life and that is contagious. Each village takes on its own personality and sense of pride. A great country to visit.
12th November 2017
Presentation is stunning

Yes Please.
I am craving something like this right now. I always enjoy your foodie approach to travel, it is very often the food that makes a trip!
12th November 2017
Presentation is stunning

Yes. Please
That was a true taste treat. The food in a country tell you abut the soul of a country.. along with the music. Thanks for reading.
14th November 2017

Good old Italy!
Great blog DMJ. It reminded my trip to Venice...water taxis and attractions exactly the way you have described. Never been to Ravenna or Verona. But I am putting them to my bucket list. Hope more to come from your travel!
14th November 2017

Good old Italy
We are glad we are expanding your bucket list. Ravenna is a great location and Verona is a quaint town. Hope you enjoy them once you get there.

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