Ravenna weekend: mosaics on Sunday

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Mosaics from the ceiling Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna. This was last Sunday, and it was a lovely sunny morning. San Vitale was closed for mass so we non-Catholics went around the corner to see the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, another of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, with mosaics from 430 AD.

20131019-170055.jpgIt looks very simple from the outside, and then you step inside and see the most amazing Byzantine mosaics and colours and images. Our guidebook said that Cole Porter wrote “Night and Day while on honeymoon in Ravenna in the 1920s, when thinking of the starry sky of Galla Placidia.

20131019-170504.jpgRavenna has a joint ticket for the key attractions (the Battistero della Neoniano, Archepiscopal Museum/Chapel of San Andrea, Church of San Vitale, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, and Basilica di Sant’Apollinare) so we strolled around town to catch a few before lunch. From the chapel of S. Andrea, a picture for our friend Matthew.

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More apostles. The Chapel of St. Andrea is accessed through the Museo Arcivescovile.

20131019-171205.jpgGates near Dante’s tomb. It was surprisingly quiet; some tourists (many Italian) but very peaceful. Much of the center of Ravenna is pedestrian, and it is very flat (good for limited mobility) and the locals seem to bicycle everywhere. After the noise and bustle of Rome with scooters and honking cars, Ravenna on a Sunday morning was just an oasis of peace.

20131019-171230.jpgI had no idea that Ravenna has leaning towers too. We are heading to lunch at Antico Trattoria al Gallo (Via Maggiore, 87). I’d been debating where go to for a proper Sunday lunch, and had been cross-referencing Chowhound, Italian message boards and other resources, and we were delighted with Antico Trattoria al Gallo. Best to book on a Sunday.

20131019-171245.jpgWe had booked for one (a civilized time), and walking in you could just smell the fresh tartufo (truffles) on food being served. I adore tartufo and really fancied some. Lots of locals there, family run, and the food was just wonderful. We had good intentions of sharing dishes, but ended up with a primo and a secondo each, it all looked too good not to try. This is also a Sangiovese area. (I can never remember wines I like, but pictures help me find them again.)

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Capelletti with shavings of fresh truffles, and my carbonara with pesce spada. It was made with smoked swordfish instead of guanciale, which seemed odd but interesting, and it was just lovely. Will have to try that at home.

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Tagliata di manzo con tartufo (beef with fresh truffles) and grilled polenta with a gorgonzola sauce and fresh mushrooms……

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A local liqueur “Feuilles de cerises” (there is a French influence) made from infusing wild cherry leaves in cabernet-sauvignon….. Delicious! An amaretti semifreddo affogato al caffe, and some biscuits.
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And some food for the soul. Basilica di San Vitale: Incredible Roman and Byzantine mosaics, in gold and green. We’d been in the evening before for a concert, but it was all dark, just with lights on the musicians on the gallery. Seeing it in with the afternoon glinting on the gold mosaics was wonderful. It’s an octagonal church, which is unusual. Another lovely day. And we still had Monday morning to explore more, before getting the train back to Rome. Life is very good indeed.

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