Friday, February 19, 2010


Our first Brown orientation trip was to Ravenna, Jan. 16.

Ravenna is a small, but important city in Emilia-Romagna. No one is really sure who founded it, probably the Thessalians, Etruscans, or Umbrians. It eventually became Roman and was later conquered by the Ostrogoths, before reverting back to the then Roman-Byzantine government. It is known for the well preserved 5th century mosaics in its cathedrals and chapels.

Fun Fact: The water table under Ravenna has changed over the past several hundred years. It is currently landlocked, but it used to be very similar to Venice. Like V

enice, the buildings are sinking and some buildings have had flooding issues.

One of my favorite mosaics, Mosaic of the Palace of Theodoric, was commissioned by Theodoric the Great, an Ostrogoth. When the Rome regained control of Ravenna, they changed the mosaics that celebrated Ostrogoths so that they would celebrate only religious or Roman figures. The figures on the mosaic (Theodoric and friends) have been removed, but for some reason the removal was not thorough. There are floating hands on the pillars of the Palace depicted. I like to think that the 5th century mosaic served as an inspiration for Thing from the Addams Family.

In addition to the mosaics, Ravenna is also the final resting of Dante Alighieri. Florence is unhappy about this and has tried to explain that they only meant to exile Dante while he was alive.

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