A Brief Look at Ravenna (Dennis Aubrey)


Last Thanksgiving, PJ and I were dining with our good friend Diane Quaid, a hardy solo traveller who ranges across oceans and continents without a concern. Italy, China, Tibet, and Scotland are among her most recent adventures. At dinner that evening, Diane was talking about all the places she plans to see before she’s through.

Nave,  Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Nave, Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

PJ asked me where I wanted to go – I responded “Ravenna, to see the Byzantine churches.” Well, here it is about seven months later and we are in this lovely Adriatic town.

Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna)  Photo by PJ McKey

Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna) Photo by PJ McKey

The delay in our trip due to my father’s health meant that we are only spending three days instead of the seven we had originally scheduled, and We tried to get permission to photograph with tripods, but the Italian bureaucracy was not forthcoming. So we basically have two days to photograph eight or nine sites, all without benefit of tripods. We agreed that this was really a scouting trip.

Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna)  Photo by PJ McKey

Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna) Photo by PJ McKey

Today we went to the Basilica di San Vitale and the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo as well as the Battistero deli Ariani and the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia.

Mosaic, Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Mosaic, Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

The churches were filled with people and we tried our best with our hand-held camera techniques. This is especially difficult with tilt-shift lenses, but we each managed a few shots that we can show, just to give you an idea of the extraordinary architectural riches here.

Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna)  Photo by PJ McKey

Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna) Photo by PJ McKey

We’ll follow-up with more detailed posts, but just wanted to give you a taste of Ravenna while we are still here.

Mosaic, Battistero degli Ariani, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Mosaic, Battistero degli Ariani, Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

19 responses to “A Brief Look at Ravenna (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. You took me back years! And the light so much better than I remembered…
    I haven’t forgotten the post I agreed to do…my mother had a problem requiring my presence and i have not long returned.
    It will be attended to.

    • Yuri, absolutely worth a visit; a great walking town, not too crowded and filled with amazing structures from the early Christian years. For a history and architecture buff, it can’t be improved upon.

  2. Well done for finding a moment or two when you could get those shots of the nave sans people. The mosaic people are much better without live competition. It’s mind-blowing that such beauty survived the ages.

    • Trish, tomorrow’s post is about those crowds – featuring the hordes of school children, who are actually quite delightful. As to the survival of these astonishing mosaics, you are right. It is miraculous. It is also encouraging to see all of the ateliers featuring mosaic work in the region. The art is alive and well.

  3. LOVELY Ravenna – one of our favourite places! We are so glad Robin was able to visit with me last September, just before we learnt of his latest battle with cancer. Sorry about your shortened visit & lack of permission to use your tripod. My pictures can’t hold a candle to yours, but do help yourself to any you find usedul from mine on Picasa or Flickr. Best, Julianna

  4. your images are beautiful, I do hope you enjoyed your scouting visit. I had only one day to visit the different churches last fall, your images bring back wonderful memories. I do hope you get back, and have permission to use a tripod next time.

    • Janice, thanks so much for this; we were absolutely delighted with Ravenna in every way. We’re staying in a lovely apartment just south of the walking center of town (through Airbnb), the churches are clearly magnificent, and today we had a fantastic lunch at a restaurant at the Marina di Ravenna, called the Trattoria le Corti, the real thing. Wonderful fish dishes of the traditional sort, exactly what he had hoped to find here. We will spend a week here in the next couple of years, hopefully with permissions for tripods.

  5. What a thrill to at last be able to view the interiors of these beautiful churches I have read so much about through the years. One would never know you had a problem, both with equipment (or lack thereof) and crowds. What gorgeous and colorful photos. Thank you.

    • Kalli, we are so happy to have spent the last three days here in Ravenna. We did better than we expected by handholding, but over and over we wished we could have our full toolkit available.

  6. PJ and Dennis,
    It is wonderful to see your spectacular photographs of Ravenna!
    I hope you will go back with the blessing of the Italian powers that be and do a full justice to the mysterious and “immaterial” spaces of the Byzantine architecture.
    Jong-Soung

  7. Fantastic pictures. I wish that mine had turned out as well when I was there. They really are a out-of-the-way treasure that most people do not get to enjoy. Thank you for posting!

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