Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Ravenna: a piece of history

It seems the pages of Italian history are littered with settlements that rose to prominence, only to be replaced by more important cities decades later. One such city was Ravenna, and thanks to the timing of its popularity, it’s among the most distinctive cities in Italy. For just over 70 years, Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Its affluence and artistry resulted in some stunning religious works being created by Byzantine craftsman. Many of these took the form of mosaics, working gold and precious gemstones in with the colored terracotta tiles. Such is their beauty that Dante is thought to have ben a regular visitor the churches where they hang in the last few years of his life.

The eight most iconic churches of Ravenna, including the Basilica of San Vitale, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, were awarded UNESCO world heritage protection in 1996, helping preserve their enchanting beauty and historical significance for generations more to discover.