Ravenna

Sorry about the long delay in updating, things have gotten pretty busy around here what with midterms and all.

Halloween, we went to Ravenna, the ancient Byzantine port city of Italy-a place I have wanted to go since taking an AP Art History my junior year of highschool. Ravenna is remarkable as a city because it still retains much of its Byzantine flavor thanks to the surrounding swamps which prevented multiple invasions and thus multiple redecorations of the buildings. An interesting fact about Ravenna that I wasn’t aware of is that Ravenna is sinking into those swamps and has been ever since it was built. In almost every chuch or mausolem that we went into we had to descend downward to get to the original medieval floor from a floor built built hundreds of years later. An interesting example is the original floor of the Basilica di Franscisco-the entire lower floor covered in mosaics and completely covered in water at all times. The Franciscans put goldfish in there! It was one of the most surreal things I’ve seen in my life, but also highly entertaining.

I have always wanted to visit San Vitale and see the mosaics of Justinian and Theodora. San Vitale is stunning with sparkling mosaics covering the majority of the surface.

We also got to see where 19th century hubris resulted in some major restoring errors. In the Basilica of Sant’Andrea Jesus is depicted what looks like a bizarre lava lamp, where in the original he held a book. This particular restorer used political clout to get the position to restore almost all the mosaics in Ravenna and was very big on just making things up when he didn’t know what was there. Too bad.

On a Halloweeny note, We were at the Mausolem di Theoderic (the Barbarian king who ruled Ravenna for a long stretch of time) and we looked down to the ground around it and saw that they were escavating houses-probably becaues they were trying to build a walkway to the Mausolem and here in Italy just as soon as you insert a shovel into the ground, you hit something ancient so you never get anywhere. We were standing there puzzling over what they had uncovered when all the sudden somewhat went, “hey is that a skeleton?” We all squinted. Yes it was. In fact there were several skeletons laying there in the puddles that were formerly rooms in a houses. There was even a pile of skulls. We stared. and stared some more. I wonder why they didn’t have the sight under protection? Maybe finding dead people has just become so common they don’t care anymore… huh. Anyway, appropriate timing to the max!

Happy Halloween everyone.

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One response to “Ravenna

  1. Hi Megan:

    I love what you have done. I also appreciate you saying “hi” to Justinian. I have always enjoyed these mosaics so to have you put them into context, along with the fish tale, was special.

    A sad story about the restoration of the mosaics. It does emphasize the need for professionals to undertake this work .

    Ti Amo,

    Dad

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