Ravenna is an ancient city, always prosperous, and recognized as such all over the world for its historical and artistic beauties, including the richest heritage of mosaics, datable between the fifth and sixth centuries AD, contained within splendid early Christian and Byzantine religious buildings.
Moving through the center of the city, letting yourself be carried away by a thousand-year history, the epochs ranging from the Roman period, passing through the Renaissance up to the nineteenth century, when the city was rediscovered by famous visitors such as Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Sigmund Freud and Gustav Klimt. The proximity to the sea, good food and the optimal position between climate and rural landscape do nothing but enrich an already colorful picture with colors; Ravenna is a city of art, culture, mosaic, and 1600 years ago it was three times the capital: first of the Roman Empire of the West, of Theodoric king of the Goths then, of the Empire of Byzantium in Europe last.
The art of mosaic, an ancient knowledge that still lives on in schools and shops, does not originate in these places, but here it reaches one of its highest expressions. When in 540 AD Belisarius triumphantly entered Ravenna the population celebrated and decided that a church would be decorated to commemorate the victory of the Byzantines over the Goths: the Basilica, already begun by Theodoric, was called San Vitale and decorated with sumptuous mosaics, among which the famous panels that represent Justinian on one side, considered the savior of the Roman Empire, together with all his court, and Theodora together with his court. Ravenna as Constantinople: the two cities first find a contact point in the mosaics made up of glass tesserae (enamels) and pure gold.
Given these premises, the city cannot be linked to a particular historical period: Ravenna is Roman, Goth, Byzantine, but also medieval, Venetian and finally contemporary, civil and hospitable, full of cultural events and internationally prestigious events that project it towards the future. The articulated history of the city has its roots in the first decades of the 6th century BC, when the inhabited area was structured in stilts distributed over a series of small islets; then during the Roman domination the city grew in importance: it endowed itself with remarkable infrastructures including a port, seat of the military fleet placed in control of the Eastern Seas, followed by the splendors due to the transfer of the capital of the Western Roman Empire right here in 402 AD, and finally the Gota and Byzantine domination.
Important mosaics are also found in the mausoleum of Galla Placida, a building with a magical atmosphere on whose dome stands a blue sky adorned with thousands of stars; many visitors were impressed and it is said that Cole Porter, on his honeymoon in Ravenna, was so enchanted by the small mausoleum and its stars, that he composed the famous song Night and Day. The basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, which it is located just outside the city, it is then defined the greatest example of an early Christian basilica for its majesty and its testimony of the past.
Stripped of mosaics, but not of lesser value, is the mausoleum built by Theodoric himself in 520 AD as his own burial, the Mausoleum, entirely made with blocks of Istrian stone. It is divided into two overlapping orders, both decagonal, and its measurements are surprising: 10.76 m in diameter and 3.09 m in height. The weight, according to recent calculations, reaches 230 tons. There are no mosaics to embellish the work, as we find throughout Ravenna, but the majesty compensates for this supposed lack: we can find something different from the white of the stone only in the porphyry basin in which Theodoric himself was presumed to have been buried and whose remains were removed during the Byzantine rule, following the edict of Justinian of 561 AD.
In addition to historic structures, buildings and architecture, the city also offers delights for the palate, including homemade pasta, such as the famous Romagna noodles, which are almost always accompanied by meat sauce, piadina, which lately it has spread almost all over Italy as street food; then numerous and delicious local wines and typical sweets, in short, delights of all kinds that change with the change of the territory, becoming more maritime towards the coast and more rural in the hinterland.
We can say that today Ravenna is a tourist place of excellence, also due to the fact that the nearby Romagna Riviera offers everything necessary for summer tourism, while the internal areas complete the package for a short or long-term stay even during the whole the year; the park of Mirabilandia and the Zoo Safari of Ravenna are also famous. Excellence in excellence, focusing attention now on the word art, now on the term food and wine, and so on, fun, culture, as well as the words would never be too many, here is all summed up in a single name: Ravenna.