Located between San Marino and Bologna in northern Italy in the province of Emilia Romagna, Ravenna is a diverse region of seaside resorts and historic towns near the Adriatic coast.
Immerse yourself in this adorable city and spend time exploring its historic piazzas, richly decorated churches, and intricate mosaics. There are also plenty of options for day trips if you need a break from the city.
Here is my guide on how to spend 48 hours in Italy Ravenna:
Visit Dante’s tomb
Lovers of literature need only visit the burial place of an icon of the world of writing. The last resting place of the author of the divine comedy is in Ravenna after the remains have been translated, hidden and disputed.
These bones have quite an extraordinary history, including a battle with Florence over the remains and intervention by the Pope in 1519.
These days, a quiet mausoleum can be a bit hard to find. It is located in a small and ceremonial side street near the Basilica of San Francesco.
Explore the basilica and mosaics
Ravenna has a large number of historical sites and beautifully preserved. Many delicate early Christian mosaics have also survived the ruins of history and can be found in buildings all over the city.
While the overtly religious architecture might not make for the wildest holiday trip, stunning sights like the Baptistery of Neon and the Basilica of San Vitale should help you prove otherwise.
This amazing basilica is a wonderful example of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. While the outside may look a bit shabby, the inside is filled with beautiful mosaics.
Ravenna is also full of 5th and 6th century mosaics and new offerings from local artists. Many of the street signs are mosaics created by local artists. It’s a nice nod to the city’s heritage.
The three main mosaic stops on the Ravenna tour are the Basilica of San Vitale, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. These have the best mosaics in Ravenna.
Unesco has even weighed and officially approved Ravenna’s mosaic art in early Christian buildings.
Visit a traditional seaside town
You’re never far from Ravenna’s glittering coastline, with nine beach towns to explore. The traditional Italian seaside town is truly something to see. On the other side of the beach there are evenly aligned rows of sunbeds and umbrellas. They stretch for miles on sandy beaches.
If you were to take a refreshing dip in the ocean, how the hell would you change your sun lounger? I really have no idea?
The beaches also come alive at night and many resorts have beach clubs and restaurants right on the sand. You can dine on the beach of the seaside resort of Saretina in restaurant Saretina 152.
Nothing is the same when you enjoy fresh seafood dishes and the soothing sounds of the sea with your toes in the sand.
Other nearby seaside resorts are Marina di Ravenna, Lido di Dante and Lido di Classe.
Relax with an Italian aperitivo
It is an aperitif that has become a culinary highlight with local cocktails and a variety of delicious snacks. To any bar looking to up the ante stakes.
As entrees have become increasingly complex, prices have risen accordingly. Although you could get away with the price of an Aperol in the late afternoon
Spritz, at least with a snack dish or access to the buffet.
Piazza Del Popolo in Ravenna is a lovely little square where you can enjoy an aperitif and people watch. Who doesn’t love a relaxing late afternoon drink while watching the well-dressed Italian crowd?
Other recommended destinations for an aperitif are Casa Spadoni in Ravenna and one of the bars on the beach of the Catalina Channel harbor in Cervia.
Observe wild flamingos in the Comacchio lagoons
In the lagoons of Comacchio you will find several bike paths, boat trips and hiking routes to explore a truly unique ecosystem, which is home to a large population of wild flamingos.
Pink flamingos migrate to wetland reserves to nest and can usually be seen here in spring and late summer.
You can take a boat trip around the Comacchio lagoon to see these beautiful birds or try to spot them while cycling along the uneven paths. While biking and bird watching seem like great hipster activities, they are not without their challenges.
Summer temperatures are scorching around the lagoon. Cycling in this kind of heat is not for the faint hearted and certainly not for those who burn easily.
The trails also have uneven terrain, giving you the chance to drive right into the lagoon. Make sure you’re holding the trail and not your phone when trying to grab a flamingo selfie.
Explore Comacchio’s canals
Visit the floating city of Comacchio and explore the vast labyrinth of canals connected by a series of bridges. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into Little Venice, there are striking similarities.
The city is located on the east coast of Emilia Romagna and north of Ravenna.
There are several museums in the historical center that document the history of the area and various human settlements over the centuries. Particularly suggestive is the Museo del Delta Antico, which has the entire cargo of a Roman ship found near Comacchio.
Be sure to walk along the Canale Maggiore and stroll among the many important architectural monuments. Some of these are the Cathedral of San Cassiano, the Loggia del Grano and the Ponte dei Trepponti.
The Treppont Bridge in particular is a great place to take photos or just enjoy the impressive architecture surrounding it.
Where to stay
Residence La Reunion is a 4-star boutique hotel offering spacious suites with stylish decor, air conditioning and Wi-Fi access. Other convenient hotel services include laundry service, free newspapers, and tour and ticket service.
It is ideally located for exploring the historic center, with the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of San Vitale and Galla Placidia just 300 meters away.
On the way to Bologna
Bologna is the closest airport to Ravenna and has daily flights from the UK and most major European airports. A variety of airport transfers are available from Bologna Airport to Ravenna, including low-cost shuttle, taxi and train.