5 things to do in Ravenna

With Venice off the radar for larger ships, many cruise lines are turning their attention to nearby Ravenna instead, writes Jane Archer

1. See the Basilica Di San Vitale

The one-of-a-kind basilica was built in the 6th century and while it may not wow with its exterior, step inside and prepare to be amazed. Ravenna is a city of mosaics and the ones here, dating back to the early Byzantine era and covering the walls and ceiling, are both stunning and rare.

Oceania Cruises’ half-day mosaics tour stops here and also visits the highly decorated Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia.

2. Pick up a Piadina

When in Ravenna, do as the locals do and dine on piadina flatbread filled with cold cuts, cheese and vegetables. Alternatively, enjoy pizza, pasta and people-watching in the Piazza del Popolo. The old town’s streets and squares radiate from here and are perfect for an afternoon of shopping.

3. Explore Dante’s Tomb

When the Italian poet Dante, author of The Divine Comedy, died in Ravenna in 1321, Pope Leo X requested that his bones be returned to Florence, where he was born. The locals refused and instead hid his bones in the city.

They were discovered more than 500 years later during renovation work and moved to a tomb where visitors can pay their respects. A museum next door showcases the box in which Dante’s remains were found.

4. Hit the beach

Ships dock at Porto Corsini, which is about 20 minutes from the city and close to one of the region’s best beaches – so if mosaics and mausoleums don’t do it for you, grab some sun, sea and sand instead. Take a ferry across the canal for lunch at Marina di Ravenna for a change from onboard dining.

5. Visit Comacchio’s picturesque canals

The fishing village of Comacchio, 24 miles from Ravenna, sits on the lagoon and has salt pans, pink flamingos and enough canals and bridges to have earned it the nickname Little Venice. Princess Cruises has a half-day tour that pairs a village excursion with wine-tasting at the local Corte Madonnina vineyard.

PICTURES: Paolo Forconi; Vanni Lazzari; Giacomo Banchelli; Darkugo; Shutterstock/Olga Bombologna

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