Saturday, October 29, 2016


Ravenna is somewhat neglected by tourists – except for those who tumble out of gigantic cruise ships, but I think we will be there before the season. Check later and avoid. We will be 30km away in Forli 20-27 March. 

Ravenna is the outstanding example of mosaic work in the ancient world. It seems unlikely that any photos I might take when there will be less failing to capture them,
"Italy has the richest concentration of Late Antique and medieval mosaics in the world." [Wikipedia]

"In 402 A.D., the Roman Emperor Honorius transferred the Western Roman Empire from Milan to Ravenna as a security measure. The city thus abandoned its more provincial appearance and took on all the pomp and circumstance of an Imperial residence. From that time on, Ravenna was thrice a capital (later of the Ostrogothic Kingdom and Byzantine Empire)." Discover Italy: there are eight UNESCO heritage buildings in Ravenna from those times.

My mentor, the late Mrs Templeman, wrote:
"I will not give any reproductions of [mosaics of Ravenna] in this book. This is the greatest compliment I can pay them."

  • p 223, The Surprise of Cremona, Autralian Readers Book Club edition 1955 

In a conversation between herself and the mosaics and a professor, we learn (as I did not learn from any tourist info) that the buildings in Ravenna were decorated with mosaics not to imitate paint, but to imitate carpets, the court having come to Ravenna under byzantine authority, and the habit and pride in the east being to decorate walls with carpet.
There follows at p 226ff a discussion of the design, organisation and colour balance in the mosaics which is such that I can happily say hunt down a copy of the book, we will be taking ours along.

Hilary's review of the book, with focus on Ravenna, is amusing but misses this most important bit. is good on the symbolism in the mosaics.



  1. Loved Ravenna, recently was there for 3 days. A very authentic place. Get to the sites before the cruise ship passengers. At 9 am there was barely anyone at St Vitale.