Ceiling of the presbytery, Basilical of S. Vitale, Ravenna.
Friday March 14 2008 10:30pm
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!! At least they are celebrating it here in Italy today. We woke up early today as we were headed to Ravenna. Giuseppe and I grabbed breakfast at the hotel until Gashwin joined us so that we could pay our bill. The room was only 70 Euro a night and was very close to Paul. Paul in the meanwhile had to go to work so he could not join us to go to the station. We arrived at the station on time and found our train without any problems. We first went to Firenze Rifredi before taking an Intercity train to Bologna where we transferred to a regional train to Ravenna.
Our first train to Firenze was fine, while our second train was ten minutes late. The final train was horrible. We were able to board the train on time and ate a quick tuna sandwich lunch for 2 euro, however the train was incredibly hot. Each section of the train was enclosed and the train was absolutely full. People had to stand in the train. In addition to the stuffy cars, the train also made several stops, most of the time at different stations, but occasionally in the middle of the countryside. It was rather annoying, so to pass time we spoke in a deep Southern draw and made fun of Americanos.
We finally reached Ravenna around 3 and took a taxi to our hostel, Ostello Dante. The hostel is relatively cheap and has individual rooms. It costs 14 euro per night but Internet is 3euro/hour and towels cost an additional euro. I guess that is the price one pays for a cheap night’s stay. The hostel is rather nice and clean so it makes sense to stay here for a short while.
After cleaning ourselves up we left the hostel for the historical center of Ravenna. We rode a bus (without paying) to the train station and then walked to the tourist center where we gained information on Ravenna. There they advised us to first visit the Basilica di S. Vitale where we could buy a pass for 10 euro and then enter each of Ravenna’s five major historical sites. Once we got to the basilica Giuseppe and I were able to get a reduction as students, however Gashwin pulled his seminarian card out and got in for free. The basilica was built during the VI century and contains several amazing mosaics. The mosaics of the churches of Ravenna are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Behind the Basilica is the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, the tomb (and also a church) of the wife of a Roman emperor from the 5th century, which also contains several amazing mosaics and has the one of the first depiction of the Good Shepherd.
As we left the Mausoleum we noted a sign for St. Maria Maggiore, a church with an altar to Nostra Signora di Tumori, Our Lady of Tumors. Gashwin wanted to stop in so we did. It was 4:50PM and I noted that daily Mass started at 5PM so we stayed for Mass. As we entered, there was a small group praying the stations of the cross. Approximately 15 people were present for Mass and according to Gashwin, “I brought down the average age by a decade and a half, you two brought it down by two.” In any case the Mass was beautiful as they also combined Vespers into the liturgy. Surprisingly this was the first Mass in Italian that I have been to. At St. Peter’s we went to the Latin Mass, and daily Mass on Tuesday was in English. Leaving the church, several old ladies stopped us and asked about us. One even mistook me for a seminarian!!!
We were hungry, so after wandering around town for a while we grabbed a slice of pizza at a pizzeria until 7pm. Apparently none of the restaurants open until 7 in Ravenna. Eventually though we found one that was. We ate at Café La Silvia. Gashwin and I enjoyed Tortelli di Salmone while Giuseppe enjoyed a Roman Pizza. Dinner was delightful and afterwards we walked around town. We saw Dante’s tomb which was very well lit at night and then walked to the Duomo of Ravenna (their cathedral). They have a VI century baptistery there as well.
After our walk, Gashwin and I wanted something sweet so we searched for a café. Apparently, all of the restaurants don’t start serving until 7PM and close at 8:30. It took a while, but we finally returned to the station where we stopped at one called Nuovo Mondo next to the station, a gelateria. We enjoyed some chocolate gelato and then went to catch a bus. Just as dinner stops at 8:30, so too do their buses. One must wonder what people do late at night in Ravenna. As a result we returned to the hostel in a taxi and now I am blogging. While I finish writing again, once more both Giuseppe and Gashwin are sleeping. I am on the top bunk so let’s pray that it doesn’t break. We might have one flat Gashwin if it does. Anyways, Buona Notte. [G’s note: You think Pietro would have picked up some Italian spelling by now … I’ve had to go through and clean up his spelling. And not just in Italian! )