Itineraries to visit Ravenna's historical city centre on foot
Itineraries to visit Ravenna's historical city centre on foot, from the Hotel Centrale Byron or the Hotel Bisanzio.
Photo: 1)map of Ravenna with interesting places, 2)map of Ravenna with Monuments,3)map of Ravenna on year 1903,4)map of Ravenna today, 5)via Cavour by night, at the bottom Porta Adriana, 6) Basilica S.Vitale by night, 7)Mausoleum Galla Placidia by night, 8) rests of S.Croce floor mosaics, 9) mosaics artist from Ravenna at work, 10)the civic tower and House Melandri, 11)via Diaz, 12)Piazza Anita Garibaldi and Liceo Classico, 13)Rocca Brancaleone, 14) Mausoleum Theodore, 15)the harbour of the Canal Candiano, 16)Rests of the Palace of Theodore and at the bottom the campanile of S.Apollinare Nuovo, 17)MAR at the Loggetta Lombardesca, 18) 1500's Cloister in the Dante's zone, 19) 1930's Architecture at Piazza Caduti, 20)Inside of S.Nicolò Church, an exhibition, 21)Battistero Neoniano, 22)Piazza Duomo, 23)outside of the Apse of Basilica S.Apollinare in Classe
Having left the Hotel Centrale Byron or the Hotel Bisanzio, let's imagine for a moment that we are strolling together along the roads of Ravenna's city centre. Along the way, every corner, every stone has a thousand-year-long story to tell. Ravenna is even older than Rome.
The path unwinds along the main vias and piazzas of the historical town centre and passes some UNESCO World Heritage monuments, as well as other, less well-known, but equally important monuments and other places of interest.
We leave the hotel on via IV Novembre, in the pedestrian shopping area in the very heart of the city centre. Turning right, after a short walk we find Piazza del Popolo, the heart of the city, the living-room the welcomes the Ravennati people especially on warm, summer evenings. The Prefecture, the Town Hall, banks, many bars and restaurants and the clock-tower face onto the piazza.
Through a tunnel under the Venetian Building of the Town Hall we arrive in Piazza XX Settembre, known as Piazza dell'Aquila.
We continue our visit of Ravenna: we turn right and walk along via Matteotti, where the Hotel Centrale Byron's back exit is, and we find a series of interesting shops. A curious fact: via Matteotti and via IV Novembre were once the banks of the River Padenna that crossed the city in ancient times.
At the end of via Matteotti we are in Piazza Andrea Costa where we find the Indoor Market and the Casa Matha, also home to the Masonic Temple of the Great Eastern Italy; looking upwards to the right we can see the bell-tower of the old church of St. Michael in Africisco. The apse of this 5th-century church is visible in the Max Mara boutique.
Now we turn left along Via Cavour, and on the corner we find the former fourteenth-century church of San Domenico which today hosts the Urban Centre where interesting exhibitions are held throughout the year.
Via Cavour is the commercial heart of the city with the loveliest window displays and the most famous designer boutiques. The road ends with Porta Adriana towards Bologna.
Back along Via Cavour towards the centre, Via Barbiani is to the right where we can find the Church of Santa Eufemia, as well as Ravenna's Industries Association. Inside the church we can admire the Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra floors of a Roman house.
Another road that crosses Via Cavour is via Fanti which takes us to the complex of San Vitale, Galla Placidia and the National Museum.
It is really quite pleasant visiting Ravenna by foot! After admiring the splendid mosaics we come out onto via S. Vitale. Here we turn left and walk along via Galla Placida, whose illuminated monuments make this stunning to walk down by night. At the end of the road we find the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, built in the same era as S. Vitale. This is the oldest part of the city, used for religious settlements from as early as the 4th century.
We continue along via Galla Placidia and find the 17th century reconstruction of the ancient church of Santa Croce, built upon commission by Galla Placidia. Of the original church we can see, below the road, the cross plan and some of the remains of the floor mosaics. The church was linked with the Mausoleum, or rather the Oratory of Galla Placidia, via a portico that has been lost over the years.
Via Pietro Alighieri houses one of Ravenna's numerous Mosaic Schools. The thousand-year art of the Ravenna Mosaic is passed down and developed in the various schools and laboratories where the new professional mosaic makers and artists are formed. People even come from overseas to take part in the courses that are organised during the summer.
We continue straight along via Pietro Alighieri: at the end we cross via Girolamo Rossi opposite the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. In the 9th century, when the ancient basilica was being built, the River Padenna flowed in this spot. There was a ferry (navicula) which took people across the river, giving it the name St. John ‘ad Naviculam'.
We take a right onto via Girolamo Rossi. At the end we find ourselves in front of the Civic Tower, in via Paolo Costa: the only remaining tower of the many that rose in Ravenna during the Councils era.
Next to this is the Casa Melandri where conventions and cultural meetings are held throughout the year. Opposite the Tower we can see the imposing Palazzo Spreti, today home to the La Torre Studies Centre.
Next to the Civic Tower we stroll onto Via Serafino Ferruzzi, named after the ancestor of one of the most important entrepreneurial families in Ravenna; at the end, to the left, we find the church of the Madonna del Suffragio.
We turn left for via Diaz, another of Ravenna's typical shopping streets. Continuing straight on, the first road on the left is via degli Ariani; under the portico we find the home to the University of Bologna Department for the Conservation of Cultural Property. Behind this is the Baptistery degli Ariani and the Theodoritian Church of Santo Spirito. Today Orthodox Rites are carried out here.
We go back to via Diaz; continuing we find ourselves on Viale Farini. To the left is Ravenna's Chambers of Commerce; to the right is Piazza Anita Garibaldi with the monument dedicated to her and the legendary Dante Alighieri College of Classical Studies; next to it we find the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, with its fascinating medieval floor mosaics.
Beyond St. John's at the end of the viale we can see the Railway Station, with the monument dedicated to Carlo Farini.
Turning left is the Rocca Brancaleone. We follow the vialetto around the outside and eventually arrive at the entrance; there is a wooden bridge across the (now dried-up) ancient moat that leads to a welcoming park. To the left of the fortress is the piazza d'armi (weapons) which is today used for concerts and summer open-air cinema.
From the Rocca we turn right, and follow via Rocca Brancaleone until the crossroads with via Circonvallazione dei Goti which we cross to the other side; we then follow the slight uphill slope to the footbridge over the railway line.
We then wander down towards the area where once there was the Goths' necropolis. Today Theodoric's Mausoleum stands here, surrounded by a lovely park.
We follow via Teodorico to the city's wet dock, the Candiano Canal, linking Ravenna to the sea (about 10 km away). Here we are behind the railway station and we follow the directions that take us back to Viale Farini; we cross the Speyer Garden (named after Ravenna's twinned town in Germany), and then we follow via Carducci where we find to the right, behind a gate, the ancient cloister of the Benedictine monks of St. John the Evangelist.
Our visit continues: we follow Via di Roma to the wonderful Basilica di S. Apollinare Nuovo with its beautiful mosaics. It was the Chapel of Theodoric's Palazzo and its size lets us imagine how great Theodoric's Palace once was - today only a few ruins remain.
At the end of Via di Roma we will find the "Loggetta Lombardesca" with the Museum of Art of Ravenna (M.A.R.) where, among other things, important art exhibitions are held.
Opposite the basilica, via Francesco Negri takes us to Largo Firenze, where the Congress Centre of the Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna bank has its premises.
We take a right for Via Corradini and at the crossroads at the end we are on via Mariani, where the Palazzo Corradini premises of the University is. Straight on is the Alighieri Theatre.
Ravenna's Theatre has a long tradition and proposes very interesting theatrical and musical seasons and events both to the locals and tourists throughout the year. Alongside the Alighieri Theatre we find Piazza Garibaldi, with a monument dedicated to Garibaldi himself in the middle.
We leave Piazza Garibaldi and take a left onto via Dante Alighieri; we are entering the so-called silent zone, the Dantesque area of the city. On the left are the cloisters of the Franciscan convent, the Dante museum, and at the end in front of us, Dante's tomb. To the left we can see the gardens of a 16th-century cloister through which we access Piazza S. Francesco where the homonymous Romanesque Basilica di San Francesco rises.
The Oriani Library is close by: the inscription recalls the trips made to Ravenna by the poet Lord George Byron; on the left is the Province Building, whose entrance faces onto Piazza Caduti.
Piazza Caduti is dominated by 1930s architecture. We follow via Mazzini, finding on the left the Basilica di S. Agata Maggiore; further on are the Lovatelli Palazzos facing each other; at the end, before Porta Sisi, we turn left and in via Zagarelli alle Mura we find the Casa Da Polenta.
Leaving through Porta Sisi we turn right into a piazzetta where we are in front of Porta S. Mama on via Baccarini. Following Via Baccarini right to the end, we find the University of Bologna's Flaminia Foundation and the Classense Library.
Via Rondinelli is home to the 14th-century complex of San Nicolò, where archaeological exhibitions and cultural events are held over the summer.
In via Guerrini to the right we find the glass palace, Palazzo Ferruzzi. From via Raoul Gardini we walk to Piazza Arcivescovado. The entire area is almost completely taken up by a garden: on one side we find the Arcivescovile Museum with the Chapel of St. Andrew on the inside.
Leaving the Arcivescovile Museum, on the left we enter, via a gate, the area next to the Cathedral and, through a garden, we find the Neonian Baptistery, a true artistic jewel.
After having admired the splendid mosaics we exit onto Piazza Duomo, where in the middle of the garden, in the centre of the piazza, stands a Roman column supporting a statue of the Virgin. Through the portico we enter the cathedral.
After visiting the cathedral we leave to the right and, after briefly following via Rasponi, we are in Piazza Kennedy. This Piazza is framed on two sides by the imposing 18th-century Rasponi Palazzos; on the third side there is the Palazzo del Mutilato, an example of modern architecture from the last century. Of note in the latter is the Mosaics Hall, an important expression of contemporary art.
At this point all that remains to be visited is the Basilica di S. Apollinare in Classe, about 5 kilometres from the town centre; buses 4 and 44 make the journey in 15 minutes from Piazza Caduti.
There is so much to see in Ravenna! All within easy walking distance from our hotels!
Many visitors come to Ravenna not only for a pleasant holiday and to admire the artistic beauties of past generations, but for business purposes also.
The most important offices are in the centre. Guests can identify the addresses on two maps: the Hotel Centrale Byron map and the Hotel Bisanzio map.
The pleasure of fine accommodation in the centre of Ravenna: we recommend the Fabbri hotels for a pleasant stay as follows:
The Centrale Byron hotel, 3-star, in the centre of Ravenna ;
The Bisanzio Hotel, 4-star hotel in the centre of Ravenna ;
Once you have reached the hotel and parked your car, forget it and walk everywhere, because everything is within walking distance.
The railway station is near our hotels and within walking distance of them.
Romance is in the air in Ravenna, the town where Byron had lived long
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