Ferrara still has the atmosphere of the past, which blends in harmoniously with the lively atmosphere of the present. The age of splendour of the Estense court has left indelible signs everywhere. Ravenna is a city of ancient origins, a treasure chest of art, history and culture of the first order. In its glorious past, it was capital three times between the 5th and 8th centuries; Ravenna is the city of mosaic art which did not originate here but found its highest form of expression in a mixture of symbolism and realism, Roman and Byzantine influences.
Ferrara's most famous image is certainly that of its grand Renaissance, the age of splendour of the Estense court, which has left indelible signs everywhere. From 1995 on, UNESCO has included the historical centre of Ferrara in the list of World Cultural Heritage as a wonderful example of a town planned in the Renaissance and still keeping its historical centre intact. The town planning criteria expressed in Ferrara had a deep influence on the progress of town planning in the following centuries. The most prominent building is the square Castello Estense, in the centre of the town, a brick building surrounded by a moat, with four towers. It was built after 1385 and partly restored in 1554.
The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare in Classe is an important monument of Byzantine art in Italy. It is an outstanding example of the early Christian basilica in its purity and simplicity of its design and use of space and in the sumptuous nature of its decoration. When the basilica was built 1500 years ago it was on the seashore. The imposing architecture of the basilica ground plan, which stands today in the country just outside Ravenna, was originally intended to stand on the Adriatic coast where it was built but which is now a few kilometres away. In fact it is right next to the Basilica that we find the extensive archaeological area of the ancient city of Classe, home of the Roman fleet.
Ravenna is a treasure chest of art, history and culture of the highest order, a city with ancient origins and a glorious past and capital three times, of the Western Roman Empire, of King Theodoric of the Goths and of the Byzantine Empire in Europe. The basilicas and baptisteries of the city contain the richest heritage of mosaics dating from the 5th and 6th centuries and eight historic buildings included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. It is the city that guards the remains of Dante and keeps alive the memory of the great Italian poet with important cultural events. Today Ravenna is a civil and hospitable city. Take the time to walk around, the town is full of the most charming surprises.
One of the most appealing Italian churches of the period (Romanesque) is the Abbey of Pomposa, begun in the late ninth century on marshy land and extended some 26 feet in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The interior of the three-aisle abbey is architecturally simple, with planar, almost shaved stone wall, topped by a wood-truss roof. The raised sanctuary level in the apse is the only structural accent. This purposeful simplicity provides the perfect background for the extraordinary frescoes that cover almost all available wall space. Painted in the 1350s by Iacopo da Bologna, they combine medieval primitiveness with Byzantine overtones accents from nearby Ravenna.