Sunday, June 17, 2018

Cryptic Ravenna

Ravenna may not be associated with Dante the way Florence is, but it is the proud owner of his bones. The "tomb" in the church of Santa Croce in Florence is really just a memorial. Dante died in Ravenna, where he was living in exile, and was buried there. The Florentines have wanted him back for a long time - in 1519, Pope Leo X even ordered his removal to Florence, but the monks of Ravenna refused and hid his bones for centuries. They were found in 1865, and his current tomb is small a modern (19th century) structure in an unassuming part of Ravenna.

Dante on his bike

Like a kid in a sweet shop
Just next to Dante's tomb is the Basilica di San Francisco, one of my favourite of the many fantastic spots in Ravenna. The Basilica is pretty unremarkable except for its flooded crypt, which dates to the 10th century but over the years has sunk into its soft marshy foundations and flooded. They gave up the fight to keep the water out, and today it is an attraction in its own right. You have to peep through a small window - pay the small fee to turn the lights on. It is home to goldfish and lucky coins, and when we visited also featured an underwater table with stone tablecloth and goldfish bowl. This latter doesn't appear in photos I see online, so is presumably a temporary installation highlighting the gentle absurdity of the place.

Grave of the charmingly-named ruler Ostasio da Polenta (d. 1346)
All this and we still didn't see absolutely everything Ravenna has to offer! Very much recommended.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the flooded crypt, it had a really eerie vibe to it.



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