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Tourist information on the city of Ravenna and its famous mosaics includes information on the weather in Ravenna, how to get to Ravenna, guided tours of Ravenna, things to see and do in Ravenna and the general information on the main mosaic sites scattered throughout the city of Ravenna.
Things to see & do in Ravenna
Ravenna is a small, quiet city of brick palaces and cobbled streets, whose magnificent monuments are the only indicators of its storied past. In fact, its greatest assets are also its oldest; the art treasures for which it is known outshine anything the last thousand years have brought.
Ravenna could be visited in a day on our Private Ravenna Mosaics Tour from Venice, although it probably makes more sense to spend the night there as you make your way to or from other major Italian cities. For tourists based in Ravenna, we also offer Private Walking Tours of Ravenna.
Ravenna rose to power back in the 1st century B.C. under the Emperor Augustus, who built a port and naval base at the nearby Classis. As Rome 's power declined, Ravenna was made the capital of the Western Empire in AD 402. A role it retained during the Ostrogoth & Byzantine rule in the 5th & 6th centuries.
Visitors to modern day Ravenna will find it hard to imagine the city as a major port lying on the Adriatic Sea, since Roman Times the sea has receded and nowadays the port of Ravenna is connected by a canal to the open waters of the Adriatic. Although, recent excavations in the fields in and around the nearby settlement of Classe have unearthed ancient vessels and parts of the old port of Ravenna.
Because Ravenna spent much of its history looking to the East, its greatest art treasures show how much Byzantine influence effected the city, especially the Ravenna mosaics that are the finest in Western art. The most important sites featuring the fabulous mosaics are the Tomb of Galla Placida, the Basilica di San Vitale, the Baptistery of the Arians, and the church of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, as well as the church of Spirito Santo and the Capella Sant'Andrea.
Other points of interest include the national museum that is located next to the Church of San Vitale. It contains artefacts of ancient Rome, Byzantine fabrics and carvings, and other pieces of early Christian art housed in a former monastery.
Near the church of St Francis, you'll find a small neoclassical building that is the Tomb of Dante. Exiled from his native Florence, the great poet, author of the Divine Comedy, died here in 1321. The Florentines have been trying to reclaim their famous son for centuries, but the Ravennan's refuse to give him up, arguing that Florence did not welcome him in life, so it doesn't deserve him in death.
The mausoleum of Theodoric is another interesting monument to see as you make your way around the centre of Ravenna. Close to the remains of the castle of Ravenna, the building is a marvel of engineering that was constructed in 526. Theodoric was the son of the king of the Ostrogoths and his mausoleum is made of giant blocks of white Istrian stone crowned with a unique circular stone of over 250 tons in weight.
The city centre is very compact, and is easily covered on foot, although the city of Ravenna does offer the use of free-bicycles stationed throughout the city for those who don't worry about the cobbled streets. The influence of nearby Venice is very noticeable in the main square of the city with the winged lion overseeing the comings and goings on modern-day Ravennan's.
Weather in Ravenna, Italy
Located on the Adriatic coast, in North-East Italy , the climate in Ravenna acn change dramatically throughout the calendar year. In the winter, with strong winds blowing down from the north the temperatures can drop below freezing.
While in the summer months the temperatures can rise as high as 35 C / 96F. Humidity also plays a major factor in the climate of Ravenna . In the winter months the humidity helps to exaggerate the cold while in the summer it can also exaggerate the warmer summer days. The Spring and Fall months typically offer the best scenario for visitors planning to visit Ravenna.
Tourist Offices in Ravenna
The main tourist office of Ravenna is located at Via Salara 8, and is open daily from 8 am until 1pm and from 3pm to 6pm . A second tourist office is located near the Mausoleum di Teodorico at via delle Industrie 14, but is only open from April until September.
It's worth visiting the tourist offices for information on events being staged in the city. During the summer months the important sites of the Mosaics remain open at night, and quite often there are classical musical concerts held at those venues to further enhance the experience of these splendid creations.
How to get to Ravenna
Ravenna is not located on a main line of Italy 's train network. Coming from Venice in the north, or from the south you'll probably have to change trains and endure a long day of travelling with limited time in Ravenna if you plan to visit the city in one day without staying overnight.
Travelling by car to Ravenna is the most practical if you are touring Italy by car and plan to visit Ravenna as you travel between other major ports of call along the way. Try to use the Autostrada (main highway) routes to get to Ravenna as the minor roads are slow moving and the scenery is a uninspiring.
Coming from Venice , an interesting deviation would be to take the old Via Romea down along the coast pausing at the impressive Pomposa Abbey. Fog is often a problem in the surrounding low-lying marshes with the influence of the nearby River Po.
The Art of Mosaics in Ravenna
Mosaics hold pride of place in Ravenna's vast artistic heritage: these decorations executed in smalti -a glossy, non transparent, multicoloured glass and marble are composed of small cubes cut individually to fit the underlying design.
The material used is so resistant that we can admire today those pictures in mosaic just as they were when the artist's fingers last touched them. Apart from being exceptionally well preserved; Ravenna's 5th and 6th century mosaics feature a fascinating evolution in style: i.e. the gradual detachment from the figurative realism of Late Roman art to absorb a more abstract symbology proper of Byzantine art.
Furthermore, in Ravenna the tradition of mosaic making has been kept alive throughout the past centuries making use of the same materials, tools and ancient techniques. Thanks to the uniqueness of its art treasures Ravenna has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995.