I visited Ravenna as a day trip during my Adriatic cruise on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas. The port was 12 km away from the city, so I took a bus transfer to Ravenna for 10 euro round trip. The Ravenna Port area was very interesting, as there are many Chinese fishing stands along the coast line, with large fishing nets hoisted on poles and the local men were drawing in the catch of the day.
Arriving into Ravenna, I noticed that like every other Italian city I've been to on this trip, there was a surplus of ancient architecture which stood out against the skyline like skyscrapers of the ages. The bus dropped us off on the main street, and my friend Jennifer and I walked along the road, dodging bicycles and mopeds as we searched for the information booth.
Along the way, we saw a random wall with a lovely mosiac of a woman's face. Next to the wall was a bike rack with lots of bicycles, of all sizes and colours. Nearby to the mosiac was the information booth, where we received maps and a local city guide. After studying the map, we realized that we were a short distance away from the Basilica San Vitale, so we decided to make it our first stop.
There was a large crowd outside of the Basilica regardless of the fact that it was only 10am. Ravenna is known world wide for their gorgeous mosaics, and everyone was waiting for a chance to see them for themselves. Basilica San Vitale is a massive architectural wonder, and the art inside is awe inspiring and proved to be worth the trip.
After leaving Basilica San Vitale, Jennifer and I ambled down the cobbled lanes which branched from the main street Via Cavour. The side alleys featured many beautiful Italain homes and buildings, with many rectangular windows and remarkable wooden shutters. Within most window sills were potted flowers of many colours, adding an splash of colour to the otherwise monochromatic colour scheme of the brick and mortar homes.
We then came across a small park with pretty flowers, herbs, fruit trees and a water fountain. The sign outside the wrought iron gate informed us that it was called the Rasponi Garden, belonging to an old family of Ravenna. Looming over the park was a very large tower, which turned out to be part of the Rasponi Crypt. The Rasponi Crypt was very impressive, and was surrounded by trimmed trees and lined by lovingly groomed shrubs.
There were many squares and bell towers littered throughout Ravenna. It was nice to just 'pop' out of a long and winding alley into a beautful square filled with grand statues, some with ornate golden trimmings. Many people would sit around the statues on the benches provided, eating their lunch while little children would run through the pigeons walking around on the ground.
We also saw a number of shopping plazas, featuring some of the most widely known European chain stores such as Zara. We weren't really looking to buy anything much, but it was relaxing to walk through the shopping areas, peering through the windows, while balking at the price tags. Ravenna is definitely one of those cities which caters for rich tourists. The stores were filled with the most gorgeous articles, however prices of hand bags were topping 300 euros!
After eating lunch at Caffe Silvano and demolishing a tasty gelato from Gelataria Cavour, we decided to make our way back to the bus stop. We kept stopping along the way, as there were many beautiful churches and mausoleums, filled with beautiful art and mosaics. Eventually, our camera batteries died, and we boarded the bus for our transfer back to the cruise ship. Our tour in Ravenna was very relaxing, giving us a glimpse into ancient Italy without the crazy crowds such as those in Venice and Rome. I hope to return to Southern Italy one day soon.