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 big reason to go to Ravenna is to see some
of the most beautiful 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 -- each one 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 the five key sights included as
part of the Ravenna Pass. The first sight was
also the most famous, the Basilica di San Vitale,
where we saw perhaps the most recognizable
mosaic (left) of Jesus with his best angel buds.
The Basilica di San Vitale is still colorful after 1,300+ years
My best attempt at capturing 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 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 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 flower-bedecked bicycle and have to pause.
This is Italy all over, finding touches of art where you least expect it.
The fourth virgin in line has a baby sheep looking back at her!
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 our favorite mosaic panels is this one depicting the three wise men
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)
This small panel shows the disciples pulling loads of fish out of the sea
Another small panel shows a golden-walled city
We arrive in Ravenna's central plaza prepared to immerse ourselves in all things mosaic