A one-hour train ride from Bologna is Ravenna, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its complex of early Christian mosaics and monuments.  Ravenna was the seat of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century and later the westernmost outpost of the Byzantine Empire.  This town is full of history, but it was the gorgeous mosaics we found most intriguing. 

Our walking tour brought us first to Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, which dates back to 505 AD.  The mosaics were stunning!

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

Our jaws dropped when we entered the 1,400-year-old octagonal shaped Basilica of San Vitale and saw the mosaics representing scenes from the Old Testament, as well as depictions of the Byzantine emperor Justinian.  We were mesmerized by the beautiful detail of the ceiling mosaics and even the floor.

Even the mosaic floor was beautiful!
Basilica San Francesco; the mosaics were underwater, and there were goldfish swimming around!
The mosaic ceiling in the Tomb of Dante
Our group: Oscar, Jenny, Mark, Deb, Nancy, Bruce, and me

In the afternoon, we visited the workshop of one of Ravenna’s most skilled restorers of mosaics.  Ivana demonstrated how mosaics are made and restored, which was fascinating.

These were mosaics Ivana made for sale in her workshop gallery.

An included lunch in between was at Pasatelli, a restaurant that had previously been a movie theater.  It is still used for movies and performances that can be enjoyed while dining on delicious Italian cuisine.  While most of the group dined on a sampling of locally made prosciutto, mortadella, and salami, I enjoyed the array of parmesan cheeses and a vegetarian salad.  It was a memorable 3-course (with wine) feast!

The following are a few photos shot while walking the streets of Ravenna:

This is not wide angle distortion, folks. This tower really was leaning! Supports have been added to the bottom section to prevent it from toppling over.
This massive mound of sundried tomatoes took up an entire five-foot table!

After our train ride back to Bologna, our driver took a detour so we could enjoy a panorama view of the city.  It had been a beautiful, sunny day, and the city below shined in warm shades of terra cotta.

This was a view up from the garden of our hotel.
The day concluded with another delicious dinner accompanied by an artfully-presented basket of bread.

The following morning, we would be off to learn all about…

The Making of Parmesan Cheese: A Stork Carries the Twins

Stay tuned!


  1. Elaine,
    What can I say … your photography and the narrative about your experiences and the history of some of these places, just make me to want to go there. Am looking forward to each coming installment.
    Thanks again for sharing.
    Regards, Al


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