Today I write about a new city, where I recaptured the enthusiasm of my youthful journeys, and spent most of the day on my feet. The first picture is of the wonderful decorations in the tomb of Gallia Placida, and then there is the exterior of the Cathedral. But then for the record I have myself trying to sleep in the train, Florence station where we stayed for ages, and then I think Bologna before the church of St, John the Baptist, the first I walked to, though by mistake when I had still not quite oriented myself,

Ravenna after an overnight journey

It has been a very long time since I spent a night sitting up to travel, except in aeroplanes, and I was not looking forward to the night journey from Rome, especially because I had been in a plane the previous night. But the train was practically empty, and I could stretch in my reserved seat, and felt quite rested when we got to Ferrara soon after 4 am.

This was despite having got up constantly, at different stations, or indeed the same station for we spend ages in Florence. Later I realized this must have been because this was the night the clocks were put back, and so an hour had to be lost, and this was done I think in the first station we got to after midnight.

Ferrara was very bleak early in the morning, and it took me and a couple of Japanese who were the only other people to get down and wait, to find how to get inside the station from the platform. But it was warm enough there, and I snatched more sleep before getting into the train for Ravenna an hour later. There I fell asleep again, and only just managed to scramble out at Ravenna, when it was still very dark.

But there was a café a short distance away and I had coffee and a croissant and was told by the ladies there were I might find a hotel. But the first near to the station was full, and another one opposite still closed, so then there began another trundling of my case up the road, to investigate several hotels, and then back again to the other side of the station to look at others, all of which were full. In the last I tried on that side, the cheapest thus far, a nice young man said he might have a vacancy and I should try again in the afternoon. But then, going back to the hotel very near the station that had been closed, I was given the last room they had, to my immense relief.

There was however no rest for me then, for I could only have the room a few hours later, so I resolved with a deep sigh to see what I could of the city. Relieved however of my bag, I moved more quickly, and got to the furthest of the sights I wanted to see, the hotel having provided me with a map, just before it opened at 9.

But thereafter it was bliss all day. The first ticket I bought gave access to several monuments, beginning with the 5th century tomb of Gallia Placida which was just next to the cathedral of San Vitale. Her role in the intrigues that accompanied the erosion of Roman power, eastern or western, because of incursions by Goths and Huns is too complex to unravel, here or in my mind, but she was daughter and wife and mother to different emperors and the tomb she built is certainly regal. She never occupied it, being buried in Rome, but the splendour of its decorative mosaics, and the glorious colour of walls and ceilings, amply justify its having been declared a UNESCO heritage site.

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