Friday, October 11, 2013

Ravenna, 2013

We visited Ravenna in 2011, on our last Italian campaign. It was one of our very best visits then, or ever, and it was again in 2013. Simply put: if you care about Western history, art, architecture, or religion, and the intersections among them, Ravenna is a must-see. The transitions from Roman to Byzantine to European occurred in many places. But many of those transitions occurred in Ravenna--the capital of Italy under the Goths, after Rome fell, and under Byzantine rule for the next few centuries as well--and they are best preserved, if preserved at all, in Ravenna. Said another way: Classical art ends in Ravenna, and Medieval art begins there too. Think: mosaics, the best in the West until Montreale and Palermo in 12th century Sicily. Also think: San Vitale, model for the Hagia Sofia as well as for Charlemagne's chapel, later, the Cathedral of Aachen. Were that all not enough, it is a very enlightened and tourist-friendly town. Oh yes, there's all the Dante stuff too. After exile from Florence, he lived out his years in Ravenna. I blogged about Ravenna in 2011, at, and at, and at, so if you want to see what I am talking about, take a look at those posts. For 2013, I'll just fill in a few gaps--which won't make much sense unless you've looked at the 2011 posts, or know Ravenna--and add the two or three new things we did during our couple of days there. It's a glorious place. We'll be back.
The Mausoleo di Teodorico, erected by
Theordic in 520, is built of  huge stones
without mortar; the ceiling is a single monolith
weighing 300 tons

Inside is only a huge porphyry basin, apparently a

In the Basilica di San of those
seminal works of architecture...legend has
it Charlegmagne carried away much of the
marble facing for use in his chapel in Aachen;
he and his aesthetic advisors were visiting
after his being crowned Holy Roman Emperor,
c. 800

According to the Ravenna TI guidebook, Cole Porter got
his inspiration for Night and Day while looking at the ceiling
of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna; I submit he
got his inspiration for Anything Goes while watching old
Monty Python re-runs ("Anything goes in/ Anything goes
out/ Fish, bananas, old pyjamas/ Mutton! Beef! and Trout!);
or possibly Paul Feyerabend

At yet another very old church, whose name now eludes me,
the crypt...the water table in Ravenna has risen a meter or so
in the last several centuries, and so it is now flooded; look
closely, a tad below center, and you'll see a goldfish

In the Museo Arcivescovile (Bishop's Palace),
the 7th century bishop's throne I had not
photographed on our previous visit ("no fotos!")

Quite recently--new construction--major new Roman mosaics
were found and now have been put together and exhibited
as the House of Stone Carpets, Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra;
here, a dance of the seasons

Thus, beautiful, nearly complete mosaic floors

And thus, the Good Shepherd

Wider view

As we were walking to one of Ravenna's many wonderful
sostas, where we had parked, we passed the State Institute
for Mosaic Art

And in its yard, a fine replica of Jerusalem from San Vitale


Tawana said...

Another for the bucket list.

Rebecca said...

Me too! Ravenna is definitely on my list.