Countries Italy Ravenna Cultural Tours

Ravenna: All that Glitters is Byzantine Gold

Clare Ford-Wille
Clare is an independent art historian. She has led study tours to Europe and lectured on European art, architecture and sculpture for more than thirty years, primarily for the University of London, the National Gallery, the V&A and NADFAS. She has also contributed to several academic guides.
What's included...
  • Return flights on British Airways (economy) to Bologna
  • 3 nights in the 4-star Hotel Palazzo Bezzi
  • 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners (lunch and dinner with wine, water and coffee included)
  • Entry to all 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ravenna
  • All church, museum & gallery entry tickets
  • The services of your lecturer and tour manager
  • A tour-guide headset system to make hearing the lecturer easier
  • Transport by luxury coach, as the itinerary requires
  • All tips and taxes
Palazzo Bezzi
Getting about
Participants should be reasonably fit. There is a significant amount of
walking, standing and use of stairs.
Inspirational tours frequently booked together
Ravenna was the last capital of the Western Roman Empire and remains a treasury of some of the world’s most dazzling mosaics and Byzantine architecture – memories of the final glowing embers of imperial glory. Ravenna is home to some of the greatest buildings of late antiquity with among the finest surviving Byzantine mosaics. The Italian city sits just east of Bologna and attracts visitors with its innumerable early Christian mosaics, on display throughout the religious buildings and museums in its historic centre.

Most of Ravenna’s attractions can be found with a stroll through the city centre, where you can visit the Neonian Baptistry and the splendid 6th-century Byzantine church of Sant’Apollinare. Explore the Piazza del Popolo, and see a vast array of mosaics in varying settings in the mosaic museum, TAMO. The itinerary includes a private visit to the church of San Vitale, followed by a chance to see the mosaics at the adjacent Mausoleum of Galla Placidia and the glittering jewel that is San Appollonaire at Classe, Ravenna’s port on the Adriatic. The city is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. All of them are visited on this tour.
After arriving in Bologna late morning, we drive to Ravenna to check-in to the marvellous, Palazzo Bezzi hotel for three nights. After lunch together, we visit the 5th century Mausoleum of Galla Placida which contains stunning mosaics. The Basilica of San Vitale which is one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. Work on the church started in 527AD and was completed around twenty years later. It is most famous for its wealth of Byzantine mosaics, the largest and best preserved outside of Constantinople. We dine together in a fine local restaurant.
After breakfast, we set out to Sant’Appolinare Nuovo, first constructed by the Ostrogoth King, Theodoric the Great. The glorioius mosaics were supposedly blackened under orders from Pope Gregory the Great to prevent them from distracting worshippers from their prayers. We next enter the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, before lunch when we dine together. The original 5thC church was renovated in the Gothic style. It suffered further in the mid-18thC when it was stripped of almost all its mosaics. What are left show the first recorded Christian use of the hooked cross. In the afternoon, we visit two baptisteries, first the Arian which was erected by Theodoric the Great. The other, the Neonian, is the most ancient monument in the city and contains a wondrous mosaic scene of Christ being baptised by John the Baptist. The evening is at leisure.
In the morning, we visit the Domus of the Stone Carpets, discovered in the Church of Sant’Eufemia. This is a vast subterranean area which has a beautiful floor of floral and figurative mosaics dating to the 5thC. Afterwards, the Rasponi Crypt floor reveals to us its spontaneous patterns of animals in mosaic and enamel. We spend time in what is the only surviving, intact archiepiscopal chapel of the early Christina period; the Capella Sant’Andrea., which contains a striking mosaic cycle that glorifies Christ from a very obvious non-Arian viewpoint. The day is rounded off with a visit to the National Museum, before dining together on our last evening.
After breakfast, we walk to San Francesco to see the flooded crypt, where glimpses of brilliant mosaics shine through the water. Then to a more modern tomb, that of the acclaimed Dante Alighieri, whose Divine Comedies were the inspiration for so many Renaissance paintings. We then depart Ravenna, stopping at the Mausoleum of Theodoric containing his circular porphyry grave. Arriving in Classe, Ravenna’s port on the Adriatic we visit our last Byzantine masterpiece, Sant’Apollinare in Classe. A contemporary to San Vitale in Ravenna, this church was consecrated by the Bishop of Ravenna and contains truly tremendous mosaics in the apse and on the triumphal arch. We lunch together before driving to Bologna for our evening return to Heathrow.
As the  Palazzo Bezzi hotel is a historic building, all of the rooms and suites are slightly different. They vary in size, outlook, and furnishing. With that in mind, we are offering these rooms and suites at varying prices to reflect their differences.

Flights - The outward flight departs London Heathrow at 8am. The return flight departs Bologna at 6.50pm arriving in London Heathrow at 8.10pm.
If you would like to fly BA Club class, please contact us and we will provide a price for the upgrade.
Hotel accommodation can be arranged at Heathrow on request. Please, contact us.

Travel advice - Please refer the Foreign Office's website to make sure you are comfortable with the travel advice they provide for the destination(s) you are visiting. 

Activity level - Our tours involve a lot of walking, climbing stairs and standing still for periods of time. The historic centres of cities are often uneven and cobbled requiring everyone to be confident walking across them.

Clare Ford-Wille
Clare is an independent art historian. She has led study tours to Europe and lectured on European art, architecture and sculpture for more than thirty years, primarily for the University of London, the National Gallery, the V&A and NADFAS. She has also contributed to several academic guides.
Palazzo Bezzi
Palazzo Bezzi, 4-star Superior Hotel in the heart of Ravenna, is only a few steps away from the UNESCO World Heritage sites containing outstanding Byzantine mosaics. The hotel offers guests all the charm of its old tradition, combined with care and refinement of details. Quality materials, from pearly marble used in the Byzantine Ravenna city to precious woods such as dark varnished oak for woodwork, characterize the furnishings expressly designed. Queen size beds alternate with round beds; in suites the living and sleeping areas are divided by wooden screens.

The Panoramic Suites, the huge windows offer a striking view of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Theodoric Palace, Rasi Theatre, Santa Maria in Porto and the City Art Museum. The inner garden is used for events, summer breakfasts and as a meeting point in the evening. 

The hotel also offers a wellness centre with sauna, Turkish bath and massages. In addition, a terrace offers a solarium and a relaxing area with the views of historic buildings.
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