Where We Be
The Basilica di San Vitale from the outside, home to some of the most stunning Byzantine mosaics in the world
Ravenna, Italy
The one big reason for going to Ravenna is to
see some of the most beautiful and famous
Byzantine mosaics in the world. From the 500s
to the 700s AD, Ravenna flourished as an early
Christian center. During this golden age, its
church ceilings and walls were decorated with
religiously themed mosaics using very tiny tiles
(smaller than your fingernail) colored primarily
in rich greens, golds, and blues. These tiny tiles
have held up incredibly well over the centuries,
so they are still as bright and colorful as the day
they were first assembled into pictures.

Ravenna is located close to Italy’s east coast,
about 70 km east of Bologna. After arriving by
train, we saw five key sights included on the
Ravenna Pass (11.50€). The first was probably
the most famous, the Basilica di San Vitale,
where we saw perhaps the most recognizable
mosaic (left) of Jesus with his angel buddies.
The central mosaic in the Basilica di San Vitale is incredibly colorful after more than 1,300 years!
My best attempt at trying to capture the whole mosaic ceiling at once at the Basilica di San Vitale...but this hardly does it justice
Not just the ceilings but the side walls of the Basilica are covered with mosaics telling stories from the Bible
It's hard to believe we're seeing mosaic tiles from 500-750 AD -- they look so fresh and intensely colorful
Next to the Basilica is the Galla Placidia Mausoleum, which is much smaller and lets you see the tiles up close
Mosaic panel from inside the Galla Placidia Mausoleum
Just outside the mausoleum we came across this lovely "hay bale" made out of scrap metal
This starry sky is part of St. Andrew's Chapel at the Museo Arcivescovile -- included as one of the five sights on the Ravenna Pass
The ceiling at Battistero Neoniano. Each tile is smaller than fingernail-size, and the tiles for skin and hair are even smaller.
This is Dante's Tomb. Dante was banished from Florence and spent the last 19 years of his life in Ravenna writing the "Divine Comedy."
Florence pays penance to this day by providing the oil used to light the lamp in his mausoleum (adjacent to his burial mound).
But along the way we see this lovely flower-decorated bicycle and have to pause. This is Italy all over, finding art where you least expect it.
The fourth virgin in line has a baby sheep looking back at her -- very playful!
Mosaics in the Basilica di Sant‘Apollinare Nuovo stretch along two walls and include this procession of 26 virgins and 3 wise men approaching baby Jesus
One of my favorite mosaic panels is this one depicting the three wise men -- just brilliant!
Our final stop was at the Battistero Degli Ariani  to see this colorful depiction of the baptism of Christ (free viewing -- not part of the Ravenna Pass)
Small panel showing the disciples pulling loads of fish out of the sea
Another small panel showing a golden-walled city
We arrive in Ravenna's central plaza, prepared to immerse ourselves in mosaics for the day