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Biking in Ravenna, Italy

Bikes parked at Piazza del Populo in Ravenna
Bikes parked at Piazza del Populo in Ravenna.

Ravenna, for centuries one of the great cities of the Mediterranean, was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. While, today visitors mostly come for its mosaics, matched only by those in Istanbul, Ravenna is more than mosaics. It’s a pleasant town dotted with serene piazzas, magnificent churches, and locals who prefer bicycles to motorbikes.

To see the monuments in Ravenna, pick up the Ravenna Visitcard, which can be purchased at Basilica di San Vitale, and take advantage of the city’s free bicycle program, Drappo Verde (Green Curtain). Scattered throughout the city are bike racks filled with yellow and white bikes. The white bikes are for the locals, who unlock them with a special key.

Visitors, whose bikes are yellow, can pick up keys at the Ravenna Tourist Office. Just show your passport at the Tourist Office. If all the bikes are in use, you can also rent bikes by thean hour at the railway station exit.

Having a bike will enable you to cruise through town, plus visit Basilica de Sant’Apollinaire in Classe, a 6th century basilica with magnificent mosaics located five kilometers southeast of Ravenna. If you’re not cycling, you can take the number 4 bus.

Mosaic at the Baptistry in Ravenna
Mosaic at the Baptistry in Ravenna.

Before leaving Ravenna be sure to visit Dante’s Tomb. Dante lived and wrote much of the Divine Comedy in Ravenna after he was exiled from Florence in 1302. He died here in 1321. A small, very interesting museum is adjacent to his tomb.

And don’t leave Ravenna until you’ve tried the local specialty, piadina. A good selection of this flatbread treat—filled with meats such as proscuitto or vegetarian options—can be found at Bar Mosaico, Via Argentario 26, not far from Basilica di San Vitale.

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