Ravenna

Capital of Mosaic

Ravenna shows off a charm wherever we went; the traditional Venetian architecture, Renaissance cloisters, and Byzantine mosaic weave an extraordinary complex of styles in which the harmony of classical construction blends with the magnificent splendour of precious marbles and rich mosaic decoration.

Ravenna was the last capital of the Western Empire and heir to the greatness of Rome. Down through the ages it has played a leading role in European history. It was the chief city of the Roman-Barbarian kingdom under Theodoric the Goth.
Who was Theodoric? I was curious enough to find a small booklet called "The life of Theodoric". On the flyleaf it stated, "Theodoric was an invincible commander in the field, proud of his race and his origins and was capable of appreciating the great Roman civilization.." According to this booklet, Theodoric came from the impenetrable forests where the wild boar and the aurochs live. he was pale, courageous, innocent, cruel in his own way and loyal to his chief and his tribe. Under his rule, the Romans lived peacefully with the Goths, and the Catholics with the Arians. It was a brief ray of light before the darkness that followed the end of the Western Empire.

It is Ravenna that inspired Dante by its beauty and its natural environment. After wandering through Italy and deeply grieved by the suffering caused as other rising European powers vie for a piece of his country, Dante found a little bit of peace at Ravenna. He guested with Guido Da Polenta in 1316 until his death in 1321. Da Polenta did not allow a sepulchre for Dante so in 1483, a Venetian sculptor was charged to create a bas-relief in honour of the Poet.

Even in death, his bones found no peace. The story is that the Franciscan friars of the monastery nearby had to move and hide his body to prevent the Florentines from taking it. Dante's remains were to be lost to the world until 1677 when a Father Antonio Sarti identified it and reinterred it in a box in his monastery. This box was rediscovered by chance on May 27, 1865 during the restoration of Quadrarco of Braccioforte. Finally, after 6 centuries, Dante found final peace here at his favorite country, Ravenna.