Ravenna Punta Marina & Ravenna City

We came back to Florence after our trip to Turin and we had one day to get ready, clean the apartment and do our washing before heading off on our next "holiday" to Ravenna Punta Marina!
We had booked this back in March with Airbnb when we were told how hot it got in Florence in August and it was lucky we did, as it is a popular place in summer.
Our apartment was just across the road from the beach – just a five minute walk through a pine forest and we were at the Waikiki lido!
The apartment block
The pine forest across the road leading to the beach
A lido is like a little beach club, complete with beach chair and umbrellas to rent, a small café and toilets and showers. There are toys and games for the kids and books and tables for the adults - it even has a bar!
Our Lido (and the blue & white carpet)

These lidos are all along the beachfronts in Italy, at first they are a little daunting as everyone is packed into a small space, but once you get used to it, it is really quite fun!

Punta Marina, the beach town close to Ravenna about 20 minutes away by local bus, is on the Adriatic coast opposite Croatia and is a budget holiday destination where many Italians go for their holidays in August.  We didn’t see or hear any English-speaking tourists while we were there, some German and French, but it is definitely not on the English tourist trail.
There are quite a few big campgrounds near where we were staying and they were just like the Australian ones - cabins tents and caravans cheek by jowl.

The weather while we were there was mostly terrific, quite hot but with a nice breeze but we did have two windy cloudy days while were there. The beach had white sand, a change from the rocky beaches we had been seeing everywhere else and the water was warm and shallow – in fact on our first day at the beach we walked about 50 metres into the sea and we were still in water only up to the top of our thighs. 
There are breakwaters out from the shore to shelter the beaches from waves. These also keep the sand from being washed away. From the beach you can see oil rigs, big tankers and big cruise ships. The cruise ships stop at Punta Marina and then they bus tourists into Ravenna to see Dante’s tomb and the church mosaics.  
The beach at the Marina is not very nice and people don’t make the trek of a few kilometres down the road to the nicer beaches, so it was just the Italians on holiday (and us!)

A canal leading out to the beach (and some hopeful fishermen!)
During the day, there are beach-sellers (mainly Africans) walking in amongst the lidos and along the beach selling everything from towels, sarongs, cushions and jewellery, right through to fresh coconut ("coco bello!!!""beautiful coconut!!!"), radios, sunglasses, leather bags, sarongs, jewellery, cold drinks, umbrellas, clothes and kites for the kids.
They don't hassle anyone and are quite friendly, but is quite interesting to see just how much stuff they actually sold to the Italian holidaymakers.

There were quite a lot of yachts out on the weekend and it was great to see all the young kids out in their sailing dinghies having fun, even on quite windy days.
Some little tackers ready to sail
In the evening, the whole beach clears out and the lidos put the umbrellas down and fold up the beach chairs, but you can still unfold one and sit on it if you wish to enjoy the beach - no one minds.
The Lido in the evening (no-one around)
One evening, the main street of Punta Marina was closed and tents and stalls erected for a market.
The place was packed and there was everything from 2nd-hand goods to clothes, arts & crafts and jewellery for sale.
The main street at 10pm
Ballons for the kids
We decided that we would rent a couple of bikes while we were there so that we could ride around and see a bit of the area as it is very flat.
The two bikes that we had were typically Italian (probably so that they would not be targets for thieves). The gears did not work properly on one bike and the front mudguard rubbed on the wheel, while the other one clanked and squeaked as you rode it, making you think it might fall apart at any minute!).
Oh, and they had massive locks and chains to deter those would-be thieves!

The first day we had them, we rode to Marina di Ravenna which is about 8kms north of where we were staying. This is where the big ships enter the river so that they can travel inland as far as Ravenna for unloading/loading.
The breakwaters that have been constructed to protect the river mouth are around 2kms long on each side! Another example of the way the Italians "just do it".
Google Earth view of Marina di Ravenna showing the breakwaters and river mouth
We cycled halfway out along the breakwater to get a perspective of the main beach area and it was amazing how many people there were out there.
There were a lot of fishermen and people just out for a walk or a bike ride.
We didn't go all the way to the end as there seemed to be more people the further out we went.
Halfway along the breakwater looking back towards the coast - a fisherman's paradise!
Lyn cycling back to the mainland
Squid fishing huts along the breakwater.
They drop the nest in and then hand lights over them at night to attract the squid.
We had a good ride and got all the way to the river, where Lyn decided to fall off as she was stopping (got her foot caught in one of the stiff pedals) and twisted her ankle,
Just before this, I had nearly run into a parked car when the gears on my bike slipped badly as I was changing gear (hurting my calf where the pedal hit it), so we had to (very slowly) ride back to the house and take it easy for the rest of the day.
We decided that we had had enough by now - we ended up riding 16kms without even knowing it.

The next day, Lyn's ankle was swollen and she couldn't really walk on it, so I decided to get the bus into Ravenna (with a bit of a limp) to at least see Dante's tomb and a few of the mosaics that Ravenna is famous for.
Ravenna itself is quite small and reminded me of Lucca in some ways. It has the same feel of a smaller provincial city.
Piazza del Popolo (the main square)
Basilica di San Vitale
Inside the Basilica (even the floors were inlayed)
Mosaic depicting the disciples
Mosaics on the main dome of the Basilica
Mausoleum di Galla Placidia (in the grounds of the Basilica)
The ceiling of the mausoleum
Mosaic detail
Stone window panes in the mausoleum
From here, I walked around the main part of the city, visiting the Duomo o Basilica Ursine(the main church in the city), along with the baptistry and chapel, all in the same grounds.
The city centre is very easy to walk around and quite small in comparison to Florence or Pisa.

To complete the list of places that I wanted to see, I walked to Dante Alighieri's tomb (the famous Italian author/poet) who is buried in Ravenna.
Towards the end of his life, he was banished from Florence for political reasons. If he wished to return to Florence, he would have had to pay a huge fine, otherwise, if he stepped foot in the city, he would have been burned at the stake. He didn't pay it because he believed that he is innocent - and all of his property and assets were still in Florence, so he never returned.
Because of this, he moved around Italy for the rest of his life before dying in Ravenna, where a tomb was erected in his memory.
Interestingly enough, the Florentine government rescinded his exile orders in 2008(!).

Dante's tomb is at the end of a small obscure street
Inside the tomb
Florence now realises how important Dante was to Italian history and to make amends for exiling him all those centuries ago, pays for the oil that burns in the eternal flame that is in the tomb.
The oil burner is a very small urn hanging from the ceiling with a glass container full of oil, on top of which a small floating candle burns.

It was really interesting to see all the tourists coming to see Dante's tomb (because it is a tourist attraction), but being completely oblivious to the oil burner hanging above their heads!
We spent six full days in Ravenna and had a great time - we could have quite easily stayed here longer.
One last thing of note is there is a great seafood restaurant we went to called Ristorante Cristallo that is situated right at the beach in Ravenna Punta Marina. They do the freshest seafood and the way that they prepare the pasta sauces was delicious. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting the area.

So - we are now back in Florence and back at the pool (it's still hot, but not quite as hot!) 
We are waiting to receive the next few visitors - our neighbour Marni is coming on Tuesday for a week, then Michelle and James from Strontian in Scotland for a week, Neil and Dom from Australia for a few days and then in October Maria and Victor from the US come for a few days. We are also hoping to catch up with Chris from our Italian class in Gisborne who is coming to Florence for a few days with her daughters in September. 
Lyn starts back at Il Bisonte on the 7th September for the last semester which finishes on the 27th November and we then head home to Australia on the 3rd December - hard to believe we are so close to the end!!

The sad news is that Guy's dad died this week, so he is heading back to NZ on the 31st August to be with his family for the funeral.
His dad was 91yrs old, so he had a good long life, but it is very sad.
Guy will stay in NZ for all of September to help with all the things that have to be dealt with and will return to Florence at the beginning of October.
It is only two months from then until we have to return to Australia.

1 comment:

  1. Sincerest condolences to Guy and the family. The loss of a parent is a tough one - wishing Guy all the best.