Ravenna, a treasure chest of history and beauty that is forward-looking

Ravenna, a treasure chest of history and beauty that is forward-looking

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Mosaics and art treasures

Between the 5th and 6th centuries AD, Ravenna was a capital city three times: first as the capital of the Western Roman Empire, then of Theodoric, king of the Goths (493–553 AD) and finally of the Byzantine Empire in Europe. This small provincial territory was transformed into an imperial residence, a strategic port and a large cultural centre with buildings erected to represent the glories of the new court. This is the period in which Ravenna’s eight monuments which are now UNESCO sites were built. They testify to the city’s greatness throughout history: the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neoniano (or Orthodox) Baptistery, the Arian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Archiepiscopal or Sant’Andrea Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Basilica of San Vitale, and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe.

Seven of these places of worship, which reflect the most important political and religious events of the end of the Ancient World and tell the story of the personalities and cultural relationships at the basis of contemporary Europe, preserve the world’s richest heritage of early Christian mosaics. It is an unparalleled heritage, further enhanced by other archaeological sites of great interest. One of the most outstanding is the Domus of the Stone Carpets, a prestigious complex of residential houses with marble and mosaic floors of high aesthetic and decorative value that date back to between the 1st and 6th centuries AD.

Mosaics are everywhere in Ravenna: in the museums, in the artisan shops scattered throughout the streets of the historic centre, in the street signs and parks, on the flower boxes and in the shop windows and even on the walls thanks to street art. An excellent starting point for discovering the evolution of mosaic art in a contemporary key is the MAR Museum. In addition to being home to the International Centre for Mosaic Study, it contains a vast and evolving collection of modern and contemporary mosaics that explore beyond the orthodoxy of traditional technique. Ravenna also hosts the Biennial of Contemporary Mosaic, an international event that every two years brings artists and mosaic schools from all over the world to the city.

Photo credits

1. A mosaico nel Battistero in the Arian Baptistery, arch. Comune di Ravenna
2. A mosaic in Basilica of San Vitale, arch. Comune di Ravenna
3. A glass of Romagna Spumante Doc, arch. Strada del Sangiovese
4. Cyclists in front of the Mausoleum of Theodoric, arch. APT Servizi Emilia-Romagna
5. The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, arch. Comune di Ravenna

Food – The pearls of the Adriatic

The Adriatic Sea is rich in edible fish, especially “pesce azzuro”, a commercial rather than scientific term in Italian used to indicate a large variety of oily fish that are mostly small with bluish and silver scales such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring, mantis shrimp and mallet, but also salmon and tuna which have different characteristics. All of these are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and have nutraceutical and anti-inflammatory properties, mineral salts and vitamins that offer health benefits for the heart and circulation and help in reducing risks of cancer.

The wild mussels from Marina di Ravenna are a true delicacy with extraordinary organoleptic qualities. This mollusc grows spontaneously at the base of the offshore platforms in the Adriatic and is harvested by hand by fishermen. The Cervia Mussel is an organic product farmed in the sea and should be tasted as well as the more recently farmed Zariota, the Cervia oyster.

Wine – Romagna Spumante DOC

The 2019 wine harvest has produced Romagna Bianco Spumante DOC (minimum 70% Romagna Trebbiano) and Romagna Rosato Spumante DOC (minimum 70% Sangiovese). This has brought two new entries to this territory’s wines thanks to the rediscovery of the wonderful experience of Romagna sparkling wine production at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Consorzio Vini di Romagna has created Novebolle, a collective brand for Romagna Spumante DOC. Nine (“Nove”), for the number of hills in Romagna; and for the early 1900s (“Novecento”), a time when sparkling wine production in Romagna garnered international pride for the region.

With fine and persistent effervescence and coloured either straw yellow or with shades of pink, Romagna Spumante has fine and delicate aromas and a dry harmonious brut nature flavour. A bubbly that can be appreciated and enjoyed throughout the meal and sparklingly celebrates the good life of an area of extraordinary beauty and variety.

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