While not as famous as cities such as Rome, Florence or Milan, smaller Italian towns are still home to many masterpieces of art and architecture. Located in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, Ravenna is one of these towns. Conquered first by the Byzantines in 540 and then by the Franks in 751, it later became the capital city of the Kingdom of the Lombards. Why is it a hidden gem? Because while not very large, Ravenna is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
These monuments all date back to the early Christian period. Among them are the Mausoleum of Galla Placida which boasts incredible mosaics on the vaults, the lunettes, and the cupola; the Arian Baptistery and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, both erected by the Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great in the 5th century; the Archbishop’s Chapel dedicated to St. Andrew, which is the only early Christian private oratory still standing; and the Basilica of San Vitale, considered one of the most important symbols of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in the west. Furthermore, while not included in the list by UNESCO, the city is also home to the Basilica of St. Francis, which was rebuilt between the 10th and the 11th centuries but that still features fragments of mosaics from an earlier period. The church is so famous, however, because in 1321 it held the funeral service for Dante Alighieri, the most famous poet Italy has ever known, who is buried in a tomb annexed to the church.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in something a little more peculiar, then head to Villanova di Bagnacavallo and its "Ecomuseo delle Erbe Palustri" (Eco-museum of Marsh Grasses). This is a cultural Institute located in this small town near Ravenna and run by the "Civiltà delle Erbe Palustri", a cultural association which has been studying the herbs found in local marshes since 1985. The Museum also organizes a variety of events such as conferences, shows, and fairs to involve the community and visitors alike and give them the opportunity to discover more about the local herbs.
But where to stay while in Ravenna? The obvious choice is the Relais Villa Roncuzzi. Situated in Russi, a small town near Ravenna, the hotel boasts an ideal location near to both the city, the hills, and the sea. An early 19th century country residence of a bourgeois family, the Relais Villa Roncuzzi has been recently renovated and can offer its guest every type of comfort, as well as wonderful grounds comprising not only of car park and swimming pool but also of age-old trees and an internal court yard featuring an art nouveau fountain and beautifully-tended flowerbeds.
The rooms are not many – only 22 – but this adds a touch of exclusivity to the hotel. Furthermore, all rooms are furnished with elegance and decorated with beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and paintings to both welcome travel-weary guests and give them a feeling of home. Also, the hotel has chosen a bird theme and each room sports a painting on one on the wall, be it a gyrfalcon, a golden eagle, or a Virginia owl – a touch of originality and class.
So what are you waiting for? Choose to discover Ravenna and book your stay at the Relais Villa Roncuzzi now.
For further informations: www.villaroncuzzi.it