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Ravenna, Italy

Ravenna (Italian pronunciation: raˈvɛnna, also raˈvenna; Romagnol: Ravêna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until that empire collapsed in 476. It then served as the capital of the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths until it was re-conquered in 540 by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Afterward, the city formed the center of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Franks in 751, after which it became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards.

Although an inland city, Ravenna is connected to the Adriatic Sea by the Candiano Canal. It is the location of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

History

The origin of the name Ravenna is unclear, although it is believed... Read more

Ravenna, Italy

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Ravenna (Italian pronunciation: raˈvɛnna, also raˈvenna; Romagnol: Ravêna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until that empire collapsed in 476. It then served as the capital of the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths until it was re-conquered in 540 by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Afterward, the city formed the center of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Franks in 751, after which it became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards.

Although an inland city, Ravenna is connected to the Adriatic Sea by the Candiano Canal. It is the location of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

History

The origin of the name Ravenna is unclear, although it is believed the name is Etruscan. Some have speculated that "ravenna" is related to "Rasenna" (later "Rasna"), the term that the Etruscans used for themselves, but there is no agreement on this point.

Ancient era

The origins of Ravenna are uncertain. The first settlement is variously attributed to (and then has seen the co-presence of) the Thessalians, the Etruscans, and the Umbrians, afterward its territory was settled also by the Senones, especially the southern countryside of the city (that wasn't part of the lagoon), the Ager Decimanus. Ravenna consisted of houses built on piles on a series of small islands in a marshy lagoon – a situation similar to Venice several centuries later. The Romans ignored it during their conquest of the Po River Delta but later accepted it into the Roman Republic as a federated town in 89 BC. In 49 BC, it was the location where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon. Later, after his battle against Mark Antony in 31 BC, Emperor Augustus founded the military harbor of Classe. This harbor, protected at first by its own walls, was an important station of the Roman Imperial Fleet. Nowadays the city is landlocked, but Ravenna remained an important seaport on the Adriatic until the early Middle Ages. During the German campaigns, Thusnelda, widow of Arminius, and Marbod, King of the Marcomanni, were confined at Ravenna.

Ravenna greatly prospered under Roman rule. Emperor Trajan built a 70 km (43.50 mi) long aqueduct at the beginning of the 2nd century. During the Marcomannic Wars, Germanic settlers in Ravenna revolted and managed to seize possession of the city. For this reason, Marcus Aurelius decided not only against bringing more barbarians into Italy but even banished those who had previously been brought there. In AD 402, Emperor Honorius transferred the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Milan to Ravenna. At that time it was home to 50,000 people. The transfer was made partly for defensive purposes: Ravenna was surrounded by swamps and marshes, and was perceived to be easily defensible (although in fact, the city fell to opposing forces numerous times in its history); it is also likely that the move to Ravenna was due to the city's port and good sea-borne connections to the Eastern Roman Empire. However, in 409, King Alaric I of the Visigoths simply bypassed Ravenna and went on to sack Rome in 410 and to take Galla Placidia, daughter of Emperor Theodosius I, hostage. After many vicissitudes, Galla Placidia returned to Ravenna with her son, Emperor Valentinian III and the support of her nephew Theodosius II. Ravenna enjoyed a period of peace, during which time the Christian religion was favored by the imperial court, and the city gained some of its most famous monuments, including the Orthodox Baptistery, the misnamed

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

(she was not really buried there), and San Giovanni Evangelista.

The late 5th century saw the dissolution of Roman authority in the west, and the last person to hold the title of emperor in the West was deposed in 476 by the general Odoacer. Odoacer ruled as King of Italy for 13 years, but in 489 the Eastern Emperor Zeno sent the Ostrogoth King Theoderic the Great to re-take the Italian peninsula. After losing the Battle of Verona, Odoacer retreated to Ravenna, where he withstood a siege of three years by Theoderic until the taking of Rimini deprived Ravenna of supplies. Theoderic took Ravenna in 493, supposedly slew Odoacer with his own hands, and Ravenna became the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy. Theoderic, following his imperial predecessors, also built many splendid buildings in and around Ravenna, including his palace church Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, an Arian cathedral (now Santo Spirito) and Baptistery, and his own Mausoleum just outside the walls.

Both Odoacer and Theoderic and their followers were Arian Christians but co-existed peacefully with the Latins, who were largely Orthodox. Ravenna's Orthodox bishops carried out notable building projects, of which the sole surviving one is the Capella Arcivescovile. Theoderic allowed Roman citizens within his kingdom to be subject to Roman law and the Roman judicial system. The Goths, meanwhile, lived under their own laws and customs. In 519, when a mob had burned down the synagogues of Ravenna, Theoderic ordered the town to rebuild them at its own expense.

Theoderic died in 526 and was succeeded by his young grandson Athalaric under the authority of his daughter Amalasunta, but by 535 both were dead and Theoderic's line was represented only by Amalasuntha's daughter Matasuntha. Various Ostrogothic military leaders took the Kingdom of Italy, but none were as successful as Theoderic had been. Meanwhile, the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Emperor Justinian I opposed both Ostrogoth rule and the Arian variety of Christianity. In 535 his general Belisarius invaded Italy and in 540 conquered Ravenna. After the conquest of Italy was completed in 554, Ravenna became the seat of Byzantine government in Italy.

From 540 to 600, Ravenna's bishops embarked upon a notable building program of churches in Ravenna and in and around the port city of Classe. Surviving monuments include the Basilica of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, as well as the partially surviving San Michele in Africisco.

Exarchate of Ravenna

Following the conquests of Belisarius for the Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century, Ravenna became the seat of the Byzantine governor of Italy, the Exarch, and was known as the Exarchate of Ravenna. It was at this time that the Ravenna Cosmography was written.

Under Byzantine rule, the archbishop of Ravenna was temporarily granted autocephaly from the Roman Church by the emperor, in 666, but this was soon revoked. Nevertheless, the archbishop of Ravenna held the second place in Italy after the pope and played an important role in many theological controversies during this period.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

The Lombards, under King Liutprand, occupied Ravenna in 712 but were forced to return it to the Byzantines. However, in 751 the Lombard king, Aistulf, succeeded in conquering Ravenna, thus ending Byzantine rule in northern Italy.

King Pepin of France attacked the Lombards under orders of Pope Stephen II. Ravenna then gradually came under the direct authority of the popes, although this was contested by the archbishops at various times. Pope Adrian I authorized Charlemagne to take away anything from Ravenna that he liked, and an unknown quantity of Roman columns, mosaics, statues, and other portable items were taken north to enrich his capital of Aachen.

In 1198 Ravenna led a league of Romagna cities against the Emperor, and the Pope was able to subdue it. After the war of 1218, the Traversari family was able to impose its rule in the city, which lasted until 1240. After a short period under an Imperial vicar, Ravenna was returned to the Papal States in 1248 and again to the Traversari until, in 1275, the Da Polenta established their long-lasting seigniory. One of the most illustrious residents of Ravenna at this time was the exiled poet Dante. The last of the Da Polenta, Ostasio III, was ousted by the Republic of Venice in 1440, and the city was annexed to the Venetian territories.

Ravenna was ruled by Venice until 1509 when the area was invaded in the course of the Italian Wars. In 1512, during the Holy League wars, Ravenna was sacked by the French.

After the Venetian withdrawal, Ravenna was again ruled by legates of the Pope as part of the Papal States. The city was damaged in a tremendous flood in May 1636. Over the next 300 years, a network of canals diverted nearby rivers and drained nearby swamps, thus reducing the possibility of flooding and creating a large belt of agricultural land around the city.

Modern age

Apart from another short occupation by Venice (1527–1529), Ravenna was part of the Papal States until 1796, when it was annexed to the French puppet state of the Cisalpine Republic, (Italian Republic from 1802, and Kingdom of Italy from 1805). It was returned to the Papal States in 1814. Occupied by Piedmontese troops in 1859, Ravenna and the surrounding Romagna area became part of the new unified Kingdom of Italy in 1861. During World War II, troops of the British 27th Lancers entered and occupied Ravenna on 5 December 1944. The town suffered very little damage.

Ravenna in literature

Pre-1800
  • The city is mentioned in Canto V in Dante's Inferno.
  • Also in the 16th century, Nostradamus provides four prophecies:
    • "The Magnavacca (canal) at Ravenna in great trouble, Canals by fifteen shut up at Fornase", in reference to fifteen French sabateurs.
    • As the place of a battle extending to Perugia and a sacred escape in its aftermath, leaving rotting horses left to eat
    • In relation to the snatching of a lady "near Ravenna" and then the legate of Lisbon seizing 70 souls at sea
    • Ravenna is one of the three-similarly named contenders for the birth of the third and final Antichrist who enslaves Slovenia (see Ravne na Koroškem)
  • Ravenna is the setting for The Witch, a play by Thomas Middleton (1580–1627)
Post-1800
  • Lord Byron lived in Ravenna between 1819 and 1821, led by the love for a local aristocratic and married young woman, Teresa Guiccioli. Here he continued Don Juan and wrote:
    • Ravenna Diary, My Dictionary and Recollections.
  • Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) wrote a poem Ravenna in 1878.
  • Symbolist, lyrical poet Alexander Blok (1880–1921) wrote a poem entitled Ravenna (May–June 1909) inspired by his Italian journey (spring 1909).
  • During his travels, German poet and philosopher Hermann Hesse (1877–1962) came across Ravenna and was inspired to write two poems of the city. They are entitled Ravenna (1) and Ravenna (2).
  • T. S. Eliot's (1888–1965) poem "Lune de Miel" (written in French) describes a honeymooning couple from Indiana sleeping not far from the ancient Basilica of Sant' Apollinare in Classe (just outside Ravenna), famous for the carved capitals of its columns, which depict acanthus leaves buffeted by the wind, unlike the leaves in repose on similar columns elsewhere.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) may have based his city of Minas Tirith at least in part on Ravenna.

Music

The city annually hosts the Ravenna Festival, one of Italy's prominent classical music gatherings. Opera performances are held at the

Teatro Alighieri

while concerts take place at the Palazzo Mauro de André as well as in the ancient Basilica of San Vitale and Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe. Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti, a longtime resident of the city, regularly participates in the festival, which invites orchestras and other performers from around the world.

Ravenna in film

Michelangelo Antonioni filmed his 1964 movie Red Desert (Deserto Rosso) within the industrialized areas of the Pialassa valley within the city limits.


Source:
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Ravenna, Italy: Port Information


Ravenna has an important commercial and tourist port.
It is a 20 minutes drive from the city. There's a beach right next to the port.
One can get to the city on shuttle buses or a taxi.

Get around Ravenna, Italy


  • Walking. Ravenna is a walker's paradise, to say nothing of a shopping heaven for some. The old town is a mainly pedestrian area with cafes and bars on every corner and some hidden away through small access alleys. Note that everything is a little more expensive near the Basilica.

What to see in Ravenna, Italy


Eight early Christian monuments of Ravenna are inscribed on the World Heritage List. These are

Other attractions include:

  • The church of St. John the Evangelist is from the 5th century, erected by Galla Placidia after she survived a storm at sea. It was restored after the World War II bombings. The bell tower contains four bells, the two majors dating back to 1208.
  • The 6th-century church of the Spirito Santo, which has been quite drastically altered since the 6th century. It was originally the Arian cathedral. The façade has a 16th-century portico with five arcades.
  • The St. Francis basilica, rebuilt in the 10th–11th centuries over a precedent edifice dedicated to the Apostles and later to St. Peter. Behind the humble brick façade, it has a nave and two aisles. Fragments of mosaics from the first church are visible on the floor, which is usually covered by water after heavy rains (together with the crypt). Here the funeral ceremony of Dante Alighieri was held in 1321. The poet is buried in a tomb annexed to the church, the local authorities having resisted for centuries all demands by Florence for the return of the remains of its most famous exile.
  • The Baroque church of Santa Maria Maggiore (525–532, rebuilt in 1671). It houses a picture by Luca Longhi.
  • The church of San Giovanni Battista (1683), also in Baroque style, with a Middle Ages campanile.
  • The Basilica of Santa Maria in Porto (16th century), with a rich façade from the 18th century. It has a nave and two aisles, with a high cupola. It houses the image of famous Greek Madonna, which was allegedly brought to Ravenna from Constantinople.
  • The nearby Communal Gallery has various works from Romagnoli painters.
  • The Rocca Brancaleone ("Brancaleone Castle"), built by the Venetians in 1457. Once part of the city walls, it is now a public park. It is divided into two parts: the true Castle and the Citadel, the latter having an extent of 14,000 m2 (150,694.75 sq ft).
  • The "so-called Palace of Theoderic", in fact, the entrance to the former church of San Salvatore. It includes mosaics from the true palace of the Ostrogoth king.
  • The church of Sant'Eufemia (18th century), gives access to the so-called Stone Carpets Domus (6th–7th century): this houses splendid mosaics from a Byzantine palace.
  • The National Museum.
  • The Archiepiscopal Museum

What to do in Ravenna, Italy


Take time to walk around. The town is full of the most charming surprises, be it a cafe or the outstanding fashion shops.

Amusement parks

What to eat and drink in Ravenna, Italy


You are in Italy; eat Italian food. There are many small pizzerias and trattorias in the town that serve excellent and inexpensive fare. In the main square, the cafe serves excellent Capuccino. The self-service cafe in the central market (just north of the main square and the Hotel Byron) is excellent for lunches.

For an excellent example of a typical Romagnolo menu at local prices, try Ristorante Al Passatore (via di Roma, opposite the "Palazzo di Teodorico"). It's a local institution and serves large and good pizzas.

If you find yourself in the middle of the historical center at lunchtime, there are a few eateries to chose from in the touristy but pretty via IV Novembre. Trying a typical piadina or crescione at La Piadina del Melarancio is always a good idea; having a slice of pizza al taglio at Alice, just next door, is another one. Both are inexpensive and tasty.

Shopping in Ravenna, Italy


As a city of mosaics in Ravenna, you can buy ceramic souvenirs in mosaic style. Stylish fashions from all over Italy are available in the small boutique style shops. You won't find big stores here as you would in Milan or Rome, but there is a small town charm to them.

If you want to do any shopping, be aware that the shops in Ravenna observe a siesta from about 12:30 to around 4 pm when the only things open are small bookshops and cafes.

Safety in Ravenna, Italy


The city is actually quite safe for tourists. However, you should always use your common sense and be alert since pickpockets are possible (well, as in any other place of the world).

Language spoken in Ravenna, Italy


Italian is the official language. English is widely spoken.

LOCAL TIME

9:20 pm
June 20, 2019
Europe/Rome

CURRENT WEATHER

27.36 °C / 81.248 °F
scattered clouds
Fri

24.13 °C/75 °F
few clouds
Sat

24.83 °C/77 °F
moderate rain
Sun

26.35 °C/79 °F
broken clouds
Mon

26.75 °C/80 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

EUR

1 USD = 0 EUR
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1 AUD = 0 EUR
1 CAD = 0 EUR

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