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What to do in one day in Ravenna?

In the charming region of Emilia Romagna, Ravenna is a beautiful city with just over 145,000 inhabitants. Today we will get to know what to see in Ravenna in one day.

Ravenna (Source Pixabay)
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What to do in one day in Ravenna?

Ravenna is a commune in the province of the same name, in the Emilia-Romagna region. Ravenna is a city that offers its visitors unforgettable, unique and cultural moments. With attractions for all tastes, it is one of the most visited cities in Italy and enchants for its historical heritage. Let’s get to our post of the day! What to do in one day in Ravenna? Here at  Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our  “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”

Video about Ravenna (by drone)

(Source: Hawk Eyes – Drone services)

A little about Ravenna

Ravenna preserves wonders of exceptional value! It is an extremely elegant, erudite and very, very cultural city that you will fall in love with at first sight. Today you will discover this city that has always been the destination of many writers and poets, with their impeccable verses about this incredible place. What most characterizes Ravenna is its incredible set of admirable mosaics , gathered in the main Christian and Byzantine religious monuments in the city. How about a Private Tour with Tickets to the Monuments? Click here to learn more!

Ravenna’s past

Ravenna, in fact, presents us with a glorious past, as it was the capital of three different empires: the Western Roman Empire, the Theodoric Empire King of the Goths, and also the capital of the Byzantine Empire in Europe, whose past is a valuable testimony in its fascinating basilicas and baptisteries. Being a medium-sized center, even though it has numerous attractions, the city can be easily visited in one day and the best way to tour it properly is on foot, with an attentive eye, of course, so as not to miss any details and to cling to all your treasures. That said, now we just have to start our visit, remembering that – because we only have one day – we will visit the must-see monuments! Come on?

1) What to do in one day in Ravenna? VISIT THE GALLA PLACIDA MAUSOLEUM

We will start our tour of the city from the Galla Placida Mausoleum. Built by order of Emperor Onofrio, in honor of his sister Galla Placida, the mausoleum features mosaics that tell the victory of life over death. Near the Basilica of San Vitale, this monument is very simple and modest on the outside, but its interior is characterized by decorations that helped make the mausoleum a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lower part of the walls is covered with marble, while the upper part has mosaics covering the walls, arches, telescopes and dome.

A little more about the Galla Placida Mausoleum

Only the upper part, on an indigo blue background illuminated by hundreds of golden stars arranged in concentric circles , houses a Latin cross with its long arm to the east. This building exudes a magical atmosphere and as it was conceived as a funerary building, its mosaics celebrate the victory of eternal life over death, according to motifs that recall both the Hellenistic and Christian artistic traditions. Over the centuries, the many stars of the dome have impressed so much the imagination and sensibility of visitors that Cole Porter, on his honeymoon in Ravenna, is said to have been so impressed by the small mausoleum and its stars that he composed his famous song Night and Day.

2) What to do in one day in Ravenna? DISCOVER THE BASILICA OF SAN VITALE

We continue around the monument to visit another place that is among the most important in the beginning of Christian art in Italy. The Basilica of San Vitale, a splendid temple built according to the canons of oriental art, as demonstrated by the octagonal architecture, which harmoniously combines elements of western and eastern tradition. Visiting the Basilica of San Vitale is a unique experience; pay special attention to the side of the altar. Here, in fact, a labyrinth is represented where, following the small arrows, we reach the heart of the Basilica.

A little more about the Basilica of San Vitale

The builders’ intentions were to represent the symbol of humanity’s sinful life, and the path to purification and grace. Finding your way out of the labyrinth was seen as an act of rebirth, of renewal. Once inside the Basilica, if you look up, you will be dazzled by the beautiful mosaics that tell the origins of Christianity. A kind of illustrated book that, at the time, had its main means of knowledge in images. Impressive! Among the many worthy of attention are the panels referring to Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora, both followed by their respective processions and portrayed with all the pomp that their political and religious status required. It is a true photograph of the Byzantine world for over a thousand years.

3) What to do in one day in Ravenna? VISIT THE CATHEDRAL OF RAVENNA

From here, we can proceed to the Cathedral of Ravenna, which is on the site of the former Ursiana Basilica and is the most important place of Catholic worship in the city. Its chapels and Bishop Agnello’s both draw and deserve great attention. The original basilica was demolished due its appalling conditions. In its place, in the 18th century, the city’s current Cathedral was built. The new Cathedral was enriched by a dome and two side chapels. The right chapel preserves two sarcophagi that are considered among the most monumental early Christians and are very well preserved. Inside the monument we can see frescoes by Domenico and Andrea Barbiani. Leaving here, we can go to lunch at one of the many restaurants in the region.

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Leaving the cathedral, we reach the area of ​​Dante that houses not only the tomb of the great poet , but also the Franciscan cloister and the Basilica of St Francis, whose interior hides a wonderful detail: a crypt that is actually a curious pool where colorful fish swim. Next to Dante’s mausoleum, you find the garden with the Quadrarco di Braccioforte, an ancient – and beautiful – oratory. Dante’s Tomb, the garden, the Quadrarch and the Franciscan cloisters are part of the Zona del Silenzio, the area of ​​burial and respect dedicated to the Supreme Poet: unmissable!

5) What to do in one day in Ravenna? VISIT THE NEONIAN BAPTISTERY

We continue the tour towards the Neonian Baptistery, which is next to the Cathedral; this monument is also called Orthodox. It is a baptistery dating from the 5th century AD and is named after Bishop Neone; it is one of the oldest monuments, where inside there are rich decorations in stucco and mosaics. The Neonian baptistery was built with an octagonal plan, which is also common to the Arian baptistery, as numerology sees the ‘eight’ as the number of resurrection. The place’s masterpiece, however, is the dome ceiling, decorated with a mosaic cycle that includes three concentric rings, each representing a well-defined subject.

6) What to do in one day in Ravenna? VISIT THEODORIC’S MAUSOLEUM

We continue to visit the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the most famous and important funerary building made by the Ostrogoths and built by Theodoric, the Great, to be his future tomb. Since it is located towards the port area, I suggest you arrive by car and leave it as the last monument to be visited, along with the Basilica of Saint Apollinaris. The Emperor’s will ‘was made entirely of Istrian stone blocks , which makes it different from all other monuments in Ravenna. In addition to its massive grandeur, the distinctive feature of the building is the roof, formed by a large monolithic dome atop the mausoleum crowned by twelve loops bearing the names of eight Apostles and four Evangelists.

A little more about Theodoric’s Mausoleum

With the arrival of Emperor Justinian, it was destined to be an oratory and later an Orthodox place of worship. Apart from a short period, in the end, Theodoric’s Mausoleum was never intended for the function for which it was built. Around the mausoleum, take a break at Park of Theodoric, an immense green space where you’ll find stretches of water and wooden boardwalks to enjoy nature and art.

7) What to do in one day in Ravenna? VISIT THE BASILICA OF SAINT APOLLINARIS

As the last monument to be seen, the Basilica of St Apollinaris, which is about eight kilometers from the city center. A visit to this Basilica is almost mandatory, because it has been defined as “the greatest example of the Primitive Christian Basilica”. It is no coincidence that the mosaics in the interior are ALL destined to fight Arianism, the official religion of the previous Kingdom of Goths. The splendor of this Basilica is linked to the beauty of the structure and its splendid mosaics in the apse basin , as well as the ancient marble sarcophagi of the archbishops placed along the corridors.

A little more about the Basilica of Saint Apollinaris

It was built in the 6th century by Giuliano Argentario and was commissioned by the Archbishop of Ursicino. Included by UNESCO in the list of Italian World Heritage Sites , it is not difficult to understand why. It’s one of those timeless places that take your breath away; the basilica is pleasantly surprising from the outside. In fact, although numerous reliefs have highlighted the ancient presence of a four-sided portico, unfortunately lost, it still retains its incredible original beauty.

Map with attractions in Ravenna

What to do in one day in Ravenna?
Source: Google Maps

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How to get to Ravenna?

Ravenna has good options to the city; you can take advantage of airports in nearby cities, good railway lines, easy roads and sea connections: all fast and safe!

1) How to get to Ravenna? BY AIRPLANE

To get to Ravenna by plane you can choose between the nearby airports: Bologna , Forlì, Rimini and Venice.

Also read our posts about Airports in Italy:

2) How to get to Ravenna? BY TRAIN

The city’s station is served by the main railway lines which are : Rimini-Ravenna, Ravenna-Bologna, Ravenna-Florence, Ravenna-Rome. Ravenna station was opened in 1863 and is located close to the historic city center, about 200 meters from the pedestrian area.

Also find out ” What is the difference between trains in Italy?”. Would you like to save? So buy your ticket online in advance and save a lot, read the Post “How to buy a train ticket in Italy?“.

3) How to get to Ravenna? BY CAR

The quickest connections to reach the city by car are the A14 highway, which comes from Bologna, where the A1 del Sole highway, the A21 Turin-Piacenza highway and the A22 Brenner highway are located. In addition to the A1 and A14 highways, the E45 highway, which connects Ravenna to Rome via the Apennines, and the Adriatic state road 16 are also good options!

Traveling by car in Italy

How about if I give you a rental car option? Are you ready for it? If you are renting a car be sure to read our posts in the section Driving in Italy on the blog Your Travel to Italy. In addition to car itinerary tips, we have everything about signage, tolls, roads and many more tips.

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What to do in one day in Ravenna? Ravenna has always been the most historically important city in Emilia Romagna, with its eight monuments that are on the UNESCO list, and in a territory that stretches from the Apennines to the sea telling a story that is envied by the greatest capitals of the ancient world. A city divided between East and West.

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