Ravenna & Aquileia
In AD 402 the Roman Imperial court fled from Rome to Ravenna, and for a period this was the political centre of what remained of the Western Empire. The result? An astonishing flowering of art and architecture created in the dying days of Empire. To this day, the city’s numerous churches, palaces and mausolea remain resplendent with shimmering mosaics...
Our journey begins in Aquileia, one of the great cities of the late Roman Empire, which played host to emperors and archbishops. We continue to Ravenna, one of the ‘must-see’ archaeological cities with unparalleled mosaics. We marvel at the artistry and explore the stories behind the glittering tiles: the struggles of a dying empire and the growing power of Christianity.
- Look upon an astonishing flowering of decorative arts and architecture that highlight the glorious final days of the Roman Empire
- Heaven for mosaic lovers - some of the finest late-Roman mosaics anywhere, culminating in the glorious collections at Ravenna
- Special out-of-hours access to the Church of San Vitale, with a private evening viewing of the magnificent mosaics
- Historic Churches
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Venice and transfer to our hotel in Grado.
We travel to Aquileia. Founded by the Romans in 180BC on marshy ground between the mountains and the lagoons, the city lay on an important route between eastern and western Empires, and thrived in the late Roman period. We explore the Cathedral, and the Christian and earlier mosaics under its campanile. We also walk along the port to the 6th century Church of Monastero and museum; and end the day at Aquileia’s National Archaeological Museum.
We head into the foothills of the Alps to the first Lombard city of Cividale. We visit the Tempietto Longobardo, an exquisite ducal chapel with wonderful stuccowork. We visit Grado’s Archaeological Museum, which displays splendid finds such as armour, jewellery and glass from Lombard graves. After lunch, we explore Grado, a historic walled town with lagoon scenery. We stop at the 6th century cathedral, and the Churches of S Eufemia and S Maria delle Grazie.
This morning we drive to Ravenna. En-route we stop at Concordia Sagittaria, founded as a Roman colony in 42BC and the site of an important early Christian basilica discovered and laid out below the floor of the present cathedral. We also visit the Abbey of Pomposa, founded in the 7th century. It has a fine 12th century mosaic floor and frescoes.
Our first full day in Ravenna. We visit San Vitale, with the Mausoleum of Galla Placida, its tiny form smothered with rich and evocative mosaics. This great church is famed for its dazzling mosaics, especially the panels depicting rulers Justinian and Theodora. On to Theoderic’s Palace - built over the old site of the Imperial and Royal palace. We also explore the Church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, built as the Royal Church by King Theoderic, and San Giovanni Evangelista – built by the Empress Galla Placidia.
The second of our two full days in Ravenna with its remarkable collection of churches and other monuments. Today we see the Arian Baptistery; the Neonian Baptistery; Ravenna Cathedral; the Bishop’s Palace, now a museum, with internationally important early Christian artefacts; and the Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra, a richly decorated Roman house. We end the day at the National Museum, with time for you to explore the cornucopia of finds at your own pace.
We have arranged a special evening visit to the Church of San Vitale to permit you to look at the mosaics in tranquillity.
Free time in the morning to spend at your leisure. This afternoon, we view the Church of San Francesco and Dante’s Tomb before leaving Ravenna to visit Classe, where we see the Church of Sant’Apollinare. Here there are more glorious mosaics. We return to Ravenna and visit the Mausoleum of King Theoderic.
We transfer to Bologna for our afternoon flights home or onward connections.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
3 nights in a 4 star hotel overlooking the harbour front of Grado which is close to bars, restaurants and the historic centre
For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.