Ravenna, located in-between San Marino and Bologna in the northern Italian province of Emilia Romagna is a diverse region of seaside towns and cities close to the Adriatic Riviera.
Base yourself in this suave city and spend some time exploring the squares, highly decorated churches, and intricate mosaics. There are also plenty of day trip options, should you wish to venture out of the city.
Here’s my guide to how to spend 48 hours in Ravenna in Italy:
Visit Dante’s Tomb
Literature lovers simply must visit the burial place of an icon of the writing world. The author of The Divine Comedy has his final resting place in Ravenna after being the remains have been moved, hidden, and fought over.
These days the understated mausoleum can be a tad tricky to find. It’s located down a small and unceremonious side street near the Basilica di San Francesco.
Explore the Basilica and Mosaics
There is a huge number of historical and beautifully preserved in Ravenna. Many delicate early Christian mosaics have also survived the ruins and can be found in buildings across the town.
Whilst overtly religious architecture perhaps isn’t the wildest holiday outing, magnificent sites such as Baptistery of Neon and the Basilica of San Vitale should help persuade you otherwise.
This extraordinary Basilica is a marvelous example of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. Whilst the outside may appear a little drab, the interior is bursting with dazzling mosaics.
Ravenna is also laden with 5th and 6th-century mosaics, as well as new offerings by local artists. Several of the street signs are created by local artists using mosaics. It’s a lovely nod to the City’s heritage.
Three of the essential mosaic stops on a Ravenna trip are the Basilica di San Vitale, Galla Placidia Mausoleum and Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. These are home to some of the best mosaics in Ravenna.
UNESCO has even weighed in and slapped on an official seal of approval for Ravenna’s mosaic art that is contained in early Christian buildings.
Unwind with an Italian Aperitif
The Italian equivalent to ‘happy hour’ is an Aperitif. It’s a pre-dinner that has evolved into a culinary highlight with local cocktails and a selection of delicious finger foods. With each trying to up the Aperitif stakes.
As aperitifs have become ever more elaborate, prices have risen to match. Whilst you might balk at the price of a late afternoon Aperol
Spritz, at least it comes with a plate of snacks, or access to a buffet.
Piazza del Popolo in Ravenna is a lovely little square to indulge in an Aperitif and a spot of people watching. Who doesn’t love a languid late afternoon drink whilst casting one’s eye over a well-dressed Italian crowd?
Other recommended Aperitif joints include Casa Spadoni in Ravenna and any of the waterside bars at the canal port at Catalina in Cervia.
Spot wild flamingos at the Comacchio lagoons
At the Comacchio lagoons, you’ll find a range of bike paths, boat trips, and footpaths where you can explore a truly unique eco-system that’s home to a large population of wild Flamingos
Pink Flamingos migrate to the wetland reserve salt flats to nest and can normally be spotted in Spring and late summer here.
You can take a boat trip around the Comacchio lagoon to catch a glimpse of these beautiful birds or try and spot them whilst biking around on bumpy trails. Whilst biking and bird spotting sound like a delightful hipster activity, it’s not without its difficulties.
The temperatures in summer are sweltering around the lagoon. Cycling in this kind of heat is not for the faint-hearted and certainly not for the easily sunburnt.