Dante’s Tomb and The Church of San Francisco
Conveniently located just behind the
restaurant is our next stop. Kind-of
clustered together are Dante’s tomb and the Church of San Francisco.
These could easily be eliminated on any itinerary, but there is a
magnificent Loggia di Dante near his tomb and the church of San
Francisco has a strange lower church visible through narrow windows under
the main altar that is completely covered in several inches of water –
and there are gold fish swimming about!
The organist was practicing while we were here and we met some nice
Italian students who where touring. Just
down from here we stumbled on the Teatro Alighieri, the Ravenna
opera house. It had the look
of those 19th C Italian jewel box houses.
The posters announced that there was a performance of Verdi’s Ernani
this evening – and that it was opening night for the season.
The box office was closed, and we assumed that it would be
ludicrous to try for tickets, but resolved to stop back at 4:00 when it
We headed up to see our last
monument, the beautiful Basilica di Sant’ Appollinare Nuovo.
Basilica di Sant’ Appollinare Nuovo
I am always amused in Italy when an
important building is designated "nuovo": the new
one. This church has to be the extreme example, it was built in the
late 5th Century. I guess it distinguishes it from the Church at
Classe (see next page) which also honors the first bishop of Ravenna and
was dedicated to Appollinare earlier. This church was actually
not originally dedicated to Sant' Appollinare, and in fact was erected in
honor of the Arian sect, later passing to Christian orthodox. It is as
pretty and typical of the
early Ravenna Byzantine style as can be found, including the high and unusual round campanelli.
The simple interior is adorned with very beautiful mosaics above
the old Greek columns down each side of the nave.
The facing beautiful mosaics depict processions, one of male martyrs and the other of
virgins. (See top of this page). Again, the colors
are dazzling and offer quite a contrast to the simplicity of the
Opening Night at
Teatro di Tradizione Dante Alighieri
And, so back to the opera house we
went. We inquired about
two tickets for tonight’s performance, and the woman said: “Oh
tonight! I don’t think so,
but let us look,” So we
nestled up to the ticket window. Forget
America’s great advances in technology. There imbedded in the marble of
this 19th C building was a video screen on which was displayed
the entire house’s seating chart for tonight’s performance.
All color-coded with the designation of each seat: season ticket
holder, individual seats, house seats, etc.
The most interesting were the seats reserved for the statali,
the city and other government officials.
They were numerous and among the best in the house!
But there they were, in the last row of the orchestra – 2 seats
side-by-side with no color. “They
must have been turned in,” she said so we snagged them!
Elated, we headed back to the hotel, detouring to the Caffé
Corte Cavour for a cocktail and then a quick nap (I think we passed
out, actually) before dressing for the opera.
Oh. Yes. There we were going to an opening and had no appropriate
clothes. Before coming to
Ravenna we decided that we should only need casual clothes, so we packed
all of our dress-up stuff in a single suitcase that we left in the car.
And it was in a garage several blocks from the hotel and it was
raining. So we decided to
make do. At least I had a
sports coat, but only a knit shirt without a tie.
Kris just wore black and a colorful scarf.
The interior of the theater is totally charming.
It is very small; our last row seats were the 19th row.
It is almost round, with the tiers of boxes so common in these old
houses, and it is lavishly decorated.
We loved watching the social interaction. As people mingled into the theater, they wondered over to this
or that patroness leaning out of her first row box, jewels dangling.
And bejeweled they were.
When the curtain went up and the chorus started, I was startled by
the sound. It was
coming from all directions and it was so loud!
The acoustics were remarkable.
The opera was beautifully sung, but, alas, the production was as
bad as could possibly be conceived, but we enjoyed the splendid singing
and the opera was the perfect cap to a splendid day in Ravenna.