Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ravenna by Margot Justes

Ravenna, is the capital of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy.

Once upon a time, it was also the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until the collapse in 476. Ravenna was conquered by the  Byzantine Empire in 540. Ravenna’s history is rich in conquests, architecture, literature and music. The history is immense, and many books are available on the subject.

The town survived many wars, conquests and occupations. Ravenna was ruled by Venice from about 1440 until 1509. Sacked by the French in 1512, followed by another short conquest by Venice from 1527 to 1529. That is just a smattering of the incredible history.

The history is rich and convoluted, and even World War II did little damage. The preservation of the town is astounding, and it truly is an amazing place to see.

The buildings are steeped in age, and you get an incredible sense of history when you walk the narrow, cobbled streets, or even stop in a modern cafe that is housed in an ancient building.

For me, a coffee stop is the rigueur to get a sense of the city. In Italy an espresso is gulped down quickly while standing. I prefer to savor mine while I sit and observe the locals. There is a higher fee for the coffee if you sit down. I’m a tourist, I sit and sip. But I digress...

Ravenna is a photographer’s paradise. It is a walking city, and every street, building, cobblestone is a treasure. Eight of UNESCO’s Heritage Sites are found in Ravenna, from churches, to a mausoleum, to basilicas and a baptistry. The sites dated from 430 to 549.

Notable writers like Byron, Hesse, Wilde, T.S. Elliot  and Dante wrote about Ravenna in one way or another.

There is an annual Ravenna Music Festival, Operas held at the Teatro Alighieri, something for everyone. Ravenna is rich in cultural history, and even Chicago has a classical link to Ravenna. Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s director Ricardo Muti, is a longtime resident of Ravenna.

Cruising allows you to see a bit of a place, and most likely I would never have seen Ravenna otherwise. I’m grateful to have seen even a little.  

Margot  Justes
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1 comment:

Morgan Mandel said...

Very lovely and old-worldly!