On Tuesday afternoon, after our fun salt-filled morning, we drove to Ravenna. Ravenna is a more well-known town in the Emilia Romagna area, especially among religiously motivated tourists. Ravenna gained some importance within the Roman Empire and became fairly wealthy.
It is famous for the incredible mosaics contained in the churches. There are 8 UNESCO listed sites in this one town, all of which house sacred mosaic works.
I am seriously uneducated when it comes to art. If I could do it over again, I definately would have taken an art history class before moving here. But, I am always taken by mosaics. The amount of time and detail existing in mosaics absolutely blows me away. I fell in love with mosaic in Barcelona and Istanbul, so when I read about the mosaics in Ravenna, I knew I wouldn't regret my decision.
Besides the mosaic work, the town of Ravenna is also wonderful. It has such a charming and walkable center.
When we arrived in Ravenna, we were a bit hungry, so we decided to have a bite to eat before heading off to the churches. Joern found this little alley with a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant at the end. They only served pizza and pasta, so it wasn't as much a restaurant as fastish food. But oh, the pasta was all handmade, and oh so delicious! After some communicating "with hands and feet," we ordered Tortellini alla Pana for Joern, Tortelli with ricotta and herbs with butter and sage- yum, and a savory pie called Pizza Salata. Oh, it was so wonderful!
From there we wandered around the center to the Basilica of San Vitale. Building of the church began in 527 and completed in 548.
The church is best known for its mosaics, the largest collection of sacred mosaics outside of Istanbul.
Joern decided not to go inside, his excuse being that he wouldn't appreciate it, and rush me through. I felt bad, and still felt a bit rushed, but he may have been right. We agreed to meet an hour later.
Although I am not particularly moved by the religious aspect of the art contained in churches, I am constantly in awe of the actual artwork. Inside the Basilica San Vitale, my feelings were no different.
From the basilica, you can then go to the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia on the grounds.
The main significance of the building is that it contains possibly the oldest in tact Christian mosaics.
Of course, the brochure we picked up from the hotel provided a bit of comic relief in its description of the mausoleum. Evidently, it has been disputed that Galla Placidia, a very influential Roman empress, is in fact buried in the mausoleum. It is actually believed she ordered the mausoleum built, but not for herself.
Again, it is not the religious significance that intrigues me, but the historical and artistic significance. The mausoleum is quite small inside. But, the interior has an etheral and calm quality. The small windows let in only a bit of light, and it is dark and cool, combined with the star-filled sky mosaic on the ceiling, you feel you are in a world of permanent peace.
I would be really interested in returning to Ravenna one day to visit some of the other churches.