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City of Mosaics

Marcy Williams Published: May 20, 2010

A visit to Ravenna today showed the incredible masterpieces that were created in the V and VI centuries in mosaic.

Fresh fruits and vegetables looked lucious at the Mercato Coperto!
Fresh fruits and vegetables looked lucious at the Mercato Coperto!
Want a little octopus for dinner? Buy it fresh at Mercato Coperto.
Want a little octopus for dinner? Buy it fresh at Mercato Coperto.

We docked and took a shuttle bus* into the city.  The drop-off point was a convenient walk to most all of the points of interest we wanted to visit, so we went.  We first walked to the main square, Piazza del Popolo and from there to Mercato Coperto.  This market of fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and fishes showed the products of the agricultural economy of Italy.

We then purchased a ticket that gave us entrance to five monuments that show why Ravenna has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The Basilica di San Vitale is known as one of the most important monuments of early Christian art in Italy.  The mosaics in the central octagon of the building are extraordinary depictions of the Byzantine Empire.  (The pictures here don’t begin to do justice to the rich colors and pictorials.)

On the same grounds as the Basilica is the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia.  Here again, the mosaics depict important Christian events and representation of the skies and stars and the flowers. Supposedly, Cole Porter wrote “Night and Day” thinking of the starry sky shown in the ceiling mosaic of Gallo Placidia.

A lunch break was spent in an Italian ‘self serve buffet’ that included various pastas, meat dishes, salads, breads, and desserts.  As with most buffets or cafeterias, the eyes were bigger than the stomachs and we left more than replete!

Beautiful mosaics tell a story at the Basilica di San Vitale.
Beautiful mosaics tell a story at the Basilica di San Vitale.
Dante's Tomb was a small building off to one side of a piazza.
Dante's Tomb was a small building off to one side of a piazza.

At this point our group split up, and one couple went to visit Battistero Neoniano, the most ancient monument of Ravenna, and Museo Arcivescoville, which contains the throne of Maximian, an ivory masterpiece.  The remainder of the group went to Dante’s Tomb and the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (and the other couple stopped there before leaving Ravenna).  This is another example of masterful mosaics of the Byzantine style, with processions of Virgins and Martyrs and the Three Wise Kings.

Back on the ship, we enjoyed a special buffet dinner on the pool deck.  The ornate ice carvings, fruit and vegetable displays added to the superb grilled fresh Ravenna fish and other meats.  Entertainment was provided by a guitarist, and the lovely weather made it wonderful to be outside for dinner.

Notice the beautiful display behind us at the deck-side dinner buffet.
Notice the beautiful display behind us at the deck-side dinner buffet.
No shipboard dinner is complete without wonderful desserts!
No shipboard dinner is complete without wonderful desserts!

A day filled with beauty… the ornate mosaics were incomparable!

* NOTE:  not all ports have shuttle bus service, so be sure to check that out ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

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