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.
small octagonal building sits outside the Duomo, surrounded by a pretty
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
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!