Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is known for its beautiful churches, walled city, and position on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The northern Italian city is a perfect place for a culturally enriching getaway, and the city’s offerings can be fitted into a day or two’s time. Easily accessible by train, Ravenna is an hour’s ride away from Rimini, an hour and a half from Bologna, and as little as two and a half hours from Florence.
History found at every twist and turn
As you exit the train station, make your way down the main pedestrian path and begin your adventure towards the city. Beautiful, well-preserved churches are present throughout the city, and will greatly enhance your walking tour. Ravenna was the seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century, and later the Byzantine Empire, until the 8th Century, and relics of its historical past are still present in the modern city. Most of the non-UNESCO churches are free to enter, and are welcoming to visitors, usually providing historical information in English. City maps are easily attainable, but if you have no particular aim, you will enjoy wandering through the city and stepping into any church that strikes your fancy. However, one church not to be missed is the Basilica of Saint Francis, a mid 5th century church whose crypt, located under the main altar, is partially submerged in water.
Find beauty in the awe-inspiring mosaics
Perhaps the most well-known attractions in Ravenna are five mosaicked churches, honored and recognized by UNESCO World Heritage since 1996. The best way to visit these churches is by buying a combination ticket (9.50 EUR / approximately 10.30 USD) and following the recommended path set by the Diocese of Ravenna, which is in charge of selling the tickets. Purchasing a ticket will allow you to see the highlights of Ravenna’s mosaicked offerings, but it’s not the only option if you’re on a budget. Other structures in the city also feature beautiful mosaics you can visit for free, one of the most notable being the Battistero degli Ariani, a 5th century UNESCO-listed baptistery with an awe-worthy mosaicked ceiling depicting the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist, and surrounded by the twelve apostles.
Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the regional cuisine
One thing that must not be missed in Ravenna is a chance to experience the food of Emilia-Romagna. Regional offerings include piadina, a flatbread served with a meal or used as a wrap for a sandwich, typical eat-on-the-go fare. Squacquerone is a fresh cheese made with full fat cow’s milk and has a slightly acidic taste. Both piadina and squacquerone are delicious served with an arrangement of sliced meats and other accompaniments, called a battilarda. Arguably, the best place to order regional food in Ravenna is Ca de Ven, a restaurant in the center that has been open for over 40 years, and boasts an extensive wine list along with its mouth-watering menu. An excellent place for lunch or dinner, with the ability to house large groups, Ca de Ven is a highly suggested stop on your tour through Ravenna.
Ravenna, a well-preserved medieval city ripe for exploring
If you find yourself in Northern Italy, a trip to Ravenna should not be missed. Its proximity by train to larger Italian cities makes it an ideal day trip for those wishing to learn more about Italy’s medieval history. Its compact center makes it easy to navigate, with churches scattered throughout the city, and cafes and restaurants around every corner. Furthermore, if you tire of everyday tourism, Ravenna offers an extensive coastline and is an oasis of seaside activity.
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