Battistero Neoniano

Ca' de' Ven

Battistero Neoniao domed ceiling depicting the Baptism of Jesus 
with the Apostles forming a decorative ring.  
Click for a larger image.

After the long tour of the museum and San Vitale we needed a rest.  We found the beautiful Caffé Corte Cavour, which we entered from Via San Vitale, but as the name indicates, it fronts on a lovely court off the parallel Via Cavour.  We thought that this such a fine caffé, we managed to return here at day’s end for another rest and a cocktail.  Heading to our next destination, we paused on Via Matteotti at a small perfume shop to see if Kris could find one of her favorite scents since she neglected to pack any nice smellies.  It is often these every-day contacts that remain memorable on our trips to Italy.  While eating breakfast, Kris notices this shop out the caffé’s window – she was impressed with the proprietress, in her heals and natty business suit washing the storefront windows.  We have often noticed this is a common daily occurrence.  Cleaning the shop and its windows is not left to weekly laborers.  It is perfectly normal to see a man or woman in a suit washing the windows.  The small but perfectly organized and lovely shop of course had what Kris was looking for.  The proprietress did not speak English but there was a well-dressed elderly gentleman in the shop, and he was anxious to talk to Americans about the fiasco going on with our election.  He was charming, and wanted to assure us that even though the whole world was watching, he was sure the United States would do the right thing.  Well, hindsight tells us we did it orderly and lawfully, but whether we did it “right” is highly debatable! 



When we left the perfumery, we strolled through  the very pretty and well proportioned Piazza del Popolo, the central plaza for Ravenna, trying to ignore the McDonalds tucked under one of the logia, preferring instead to admire the lovely Renaissance building ringing the plaza with it’s twin Venetian columns.  Here gathered, as in every town’s square, are the groups of animated men solving the world’s problems, or at least Italy’s.  We headed to the Duomo for our next target, the Neonian Baptistry.  On the way we happened on a formal garden that provided a pleasant pause, complete with its decaying pomegranates looking like still lifes hanging from trees.

Battistero Neonian

This small octagonal building sits outside the Duomo, surrounded by a pretty lawn.  We were surprised to find the door locked and a handwritten sign to ring the bell to gain admittance.  It cautioned to be patient.  We waited about 10 min. when an attractive young woman (I had been expecting the proverbial old caretaker) came and opened the door.  This building and its amazingly gorgeous mosaic domed ceiling is the oldest in Ravenna and dates from 450 A.D.  I was constantly shaking my head in Ravenna.  Building from 400 and something in perfect shape and gorgeously decorated.  The effect inside the round space is amazing.  The whole is decorated with mosaics, carved marbles, and intricate stuccowork.  The domed ceiling is astonishingly beautiful, and again, vibrant with color.  It depicts the baptism of Christ who is standing naked in the river Jordan with the water up to his waist, his body visible through the water.  It is a haunting image, and I think, the only depiction I have ever seen of the nude Christ.  Surrounding the center image in a pinwheel pattern are the Apostles and everything is highly decorated with draperies and designs reminiscent of the work we saw at Pompeii.

When we reluctantly left this very special and serene space, we stopped in the Museo Arcivescovile attached to the back of the Duomo (which was closed).  We only had a short time before closing for lunch, but it is a small collection.  There are a few very fine mosaics, and a beautiful chapel, and the famous Ivory Throne of Maximian carved in the 6th Century.  

It was remarkable we had done so much in just this one morning, but we were definitely ready for lunch.  Disappointed we had missed local food for dinner, I approached the young and pretty attendant in the ticket booth and tried my faulty Italian.  Mi scusi, signora. Per favore, dov' è un ristorante non lontano da qui.  Vorrei cucina tipicha della regione, ma non tropo elevato. Semplice, ma buona cucina e buon vino locale.”  I asked here if she could direct us to a restaurant not far from here that served authentic local food and had good wine.  Immediately she beamed and replied:Sì signore. C' è un ristorante perfetto appena due minuti da qui. È molto autentico ed il vino è meraviglioso. Il nome è Ca’ de’ Vén .”  And, did the lovely signora ever send us to the right place!


On to Lunch at Ca' de' Vén
Go Directly to:

Ravenna Intro.

San Vitale

Ca’ de’ Vén

Dante's Tomb
San Francisco
Appollinare Nuovo
Teatro Alighieri

S. Apppolliare in Classe