Tuesday, July 7th:
Tuesday morning, I decided on a daytrip to Ravenna. I spent a couple of nights in Ravenna many years ago and wanted to go back to see the mosaics again, this time with my digital camera.
After breakfast, I went to the tabacchieri and bought two tickets for the bus. The hotel told me that I should catch Bus A, which goes directly to the station and stops across the street from Neptune’s statue. The bus arrived soon after I arrived. I am always nervous that I will miss my stop when taking the bus. I asked the driver if he would tell me when we got to the station. It ended up being pretty obvious though when we arrived at the station.
Once inside the train station, I bought my ticket at one of the automatic ticket machines. I was early and had time to go find the information office where I was told I could find out about the planned strike for Saturday/Sunday. First, I validated my ticket for my train ride so that I would not forget and then went into the information office.
It’s a good thing my train vocabulary in Italian is pretty good since the information guy spoke rapid Italian. When I asked him about the train strike scheduled from Saturday night until Sunday night, he told me that the train strike was today (Tuesday)! Another train strike?? I told him that I had just bought and validated my ticket. He told me not to worry. The strike did not start until 12:30 and would only last for four hours. I guess that meant I would be staying in Ravenna until late in the afternoon.
I asked him again about the Sat/Sun train strike. He had no knowledge of it but asked someone else when I told him that I read about it on the Italian train strike site. He asked the guy working next to him. The other guy had heard about the strike. Together, they looked at the computer and found the info on the strike and then told me that nothing was planned yet and they had no information.
The train ride to Ravenna was about 80 or 90 minutes. When I arrived in Ravenna, I used an old map from a previous trip. The map along with the signs helped me a lot. There were signs to the tourist info office, which I headed to first, since it was located close to the Basilica di San Vitale, my first planned stop.
At the tourist info office, I asked the woman to circle all the important sites on the map. Those circled sites along with info from both Sandra’s & Judy’s recent blog posts about Ravenna guided my day.
I visited most of the usual suspects (5 of the UNESCO World Heritage sites) along with an extra Battistero that both Sandra & Judy wrote about (the Domus dei’ Tappeti Pietra) and an extra church not usually on everyone’s list.
My first stop was a visit to the Basilica di San Vitale. This is one of the top mosaic visits in Ravenna – so amazing to experience, even a second time!
Adjacent to the Basilica di Dan Vitale is the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia (Mausoleum of Galla Placidia). This was my second stop and also a return visit.
Next I went to visit the Domus dei’ Tappeti Pietra (House of Stone Carpets). This site is not as well known on the tourist circuit but is one of the most important archaeological sites discovered in Italy in recent years.
My next stop was a return visit to the Battistero degli Ortodossi or Neoniano (Orthodox Baptistry also called Baptistry of Neon). This is one of my favorite sites in Ravenna. My photos do not do it justice (as well as my photos of the other sites I visited).
For lunch, I ate at the beautiful Ca’ de’ Ven. I ordered pesto pasta with pecorino cheese, a piadina, and grilled veggies. Yum!
After lunch, my next stop was a visit to the Sepolcro di Dante / Tomb of Dante (the famous poet, Dante Alighieri). The tomb is located next to the Basilica di San Francesco.
Next, I visited the Battistero degli Ariani (Arian Baptistry). This baptistery was built by King Theodoric in the early 6th century. It is not as ornate as some of the other sites but the mosaics on the ceiling are incredible.
After my visit to the Arian Baptistry, I discovered a little gem – the Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista (church of St. John the Evangelist). Most of this church was destroyed during World War II. Inside the church, were some before and after photos of this church.
My last visit of the day was a return visit to the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo.
I was hoping to also take a peek inside the Basilica di Sant’ Apollinare, but I ran out of time. Here’s a photo of the outside of the church.
My one regret was not having time to shop at the raved Annafietta’s Mosaic Workshop. I did peek into this shop at the beginning of my day, but I did not want to carry anything I bought around with me all day. After my visit to the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, I was already close to the train station and did not want to walk all the way back to the shop again. I was worn out from a long day of walking and was ready to return to Bologna.
The train I hoped to take was scheduled to leave five minutes before the four hour strike was over. I had no idea what the situation would be when I arrived. I waited in line to buy a ticket and asked the woman about the strike and if the next train would leave on time. She told me that there really wasn’t a strike that day! I left Ravenna about 4:30pm and arrived back in Bologna around 6pm.
Once back in Bologna, I realized that I forgot to find out where to catch the bus. There are tons of bus stops scattered about at the train station. I went to a couple of stations and asked. No one knew where Bus A stopped. I can’t remember how I finally figured out where the stop was located. I had to cross the main street, which can be a little tricky. I was so tired, I just wanted to get back to my hotel. As I waited for the bus, I saw another Bus A stop right in front of the station. I realized the that I could have caught the bus there (although in my Thursday Bologna blog post, I will tell you what happens when you do catch the bus there).
Around 7 or 7:30 pm while in my hotel room, I heard something happening in the piazza. I looked out my window but could only see a group of police and a woman singing. I went out to check it out.
By the Neptune statue (the one spot I could not see from my window), there was a huge group filling up almost the entire area chanting, singing, and waving flags. There also were a few people playing drums. Everyone was wearing either blue and red shirts or matching scarves. There were also a few signs and banners.
It did not look like a political protest to me, especially since there were people of all ages there and the police did not seem very concerned. My guess was that it had something to do with soccer (calcio), especially since at one point the smoke like colored fireworks appeared. The first time I saw this occur in the middle of a crowd was during the World Cup semifinal in a piazza in Torino. The police ignored the fireworks that night also.
The following day I found out that it was a protest against the current manager or president of the Bologna soccer team or club.
For dinner, I tried to get a table at Ristorante Teresina but I arrived too late and they were no available tables. I did not see the waiters that waited on me last year. When I went back to my hotel to ask for recommendations of restaurants which would not require a reservation, I was told that the hotel has heard more mixed reviews of Ristorante Teresina this year.
I asked if Trattoria da Mela, a place Sandra mentioned, was very far and if I would need a reservation there. Sara, one of the very nice people working at the hotel called to make one just in case and then walked out of the hotel with me and showed me where the restaurant was located (just around the corner from the hotel).
I ordered a pizza bufalina (pizza with the delicious buffalo mozzarella cheese). For dessert, I walked over to Grom and ordered my favorite caffè & pistacchio combo.
After dinner, I went to check out the movie playing in the piazza. It was an old western. The seats were all full and it was cold outside. I decided instead to go back to my comfy hotel room and watch Juno in Italian on TV.
I am really glad I returned to Ravenna to see the mosaics again. They were just as amazing the second time around.
If I am ever back in Ravenna again, I hope to visit the remaining 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites that I missed on this trip: the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theoderic, and the inside of the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare in Classe.
Next up – Wednesday in Bologna