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Ravenna is celebrated worldwide for its mosaics. It is resplendent in the light of small vitreous tesserae and bears witness to Ages which elsewhere were described as "Dark".
Its basilicas and baptiseries contain the richest heritage of 5th and 6 th century AD mosaics.
No eastern city (Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria) or western city (Rome, Milan, Trier, Cologne) possesses an equally rich heritage in terms of artistic quality or the great significance of its religious images.
This is why Unesco has put eight ancient Ravenna buildings on the "World Heritage" list, of which only the Mausoleum of Theodoric is not decorated with mosaics.
So a visit to Ravenna is above all a pilgrimage in a world still capable of comparison with classical artistic heritage and at the same time at the origins of Christian iconology.
The city was the major political and cultural centre of the West in the epoch of the decline of the Latin world and was capital of the Roman Empire (in 402), and then of Roman-Barbaric kingdoms and the Byzantine Exarchate, but it also offers evocative testimony of more recent ages.
Walking around among bell-towers and monastery cloisters in Ravenna, you pass from Romanesque to Gothic, from the Giotto school frescoes of S. Chiara to the Baroque of the apse in S. Apollinare Nuovo, from the testimony of Dante Alighieri's last refuge (died there in 1321) to the buildings where Lord Byron pursued love before leaving for his last romantic exploit.
Ravenna is Roman, Gothic, Byzantine, but also mediaeval, Venetian and, fianally, contemporary, civilised and welcoming, rich in cultural and internationally prestigious events.
If uou come to Ravenna you'll fall in love with it, as happened in the past to Boccaccio, who set one of his finest stories here, to Gustav Klimt who was clearly inspired by the city, to Hermann Hesse who wrote a poem about it. Ravenna responded by donating a mosaic of one of his watercolours to the museum in Lugano which was once Hesse's home.

Ravenna's great historical and artistic heritage is coupled with a high level of cultural vivacity. Many top-level theatrical, ballet, opera and concert events take place during the year. The main summer appointment, from June to the end of July, is the international opera and symphony concert event Ravenna Festival, held in the city's most prestigious places such as the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of San Apollinare in Classe. The summer calendar also offers other memorable dates among which, from June to August, "Bella di sera" with more than 50 events held in the most evocative venues of the old town, the Jazz Festival in July at the beautiful Rocca Brancaleone and the August Organ Music Festival in the Cuch of San Vitale. On Friday evenings all the shops in the city centre stay open and the San Vitale complex is open to visitors.