Ravenna at Christmas

Gold-in-glass mosaic of Christ in the Church of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna - a Byzantine technique of the 6th century AD
Gold-in-glass mosaic of Christ in the Church of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna - a Byzantine technique of the 6th century AD
The Church of San Apollinare at Classe with its nave of veined grey light, marble columns and the lovely green of its apse mosaics
The Church of San Apollinare at Classe with its nave of veined grey light, marble columns and the lovely green of its apse mosaics
Entering the Cathedral at Aquileia we see one of the largest mosaics ever laid in the west
Entering the Cathedral at Aquileia we see one of the largest mosaics ever laid in the west
The Church of San Vitale
The Church of San Vitale

Ravenna and Aquilea, cities full of the churches and residences so typical of the time replete with unparalleled mosaics. While Italy struggled at the hands of barbarian invaders, the great walled cities, seemingly secure behind their defences, enjoyed a golden age of creation. Marvel at the artistry and explore the stories behind the shimmering tiles.

The mists, lagoons and beautiful historic cities of the Po Valley make Ravenna a wonderful choice for a Christmas tour. We enjoy a traditional Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, a very authentic Italian celebration. Ravenna and Aquileia remain remarkably unspoiled. At Christmas we often have the splendid churches, tombs and abbeys almost to ourselves...

  • We enjoy special out-of-hours access to the Church of San Vitale, with a private evening viewing of the magnificent mosaics housed there
  • Immerse yourself in a Traditional Italian Christmas during Midnight Mass and a festive firework display
  • Discover the glorious final days of the Roman Empire – expressed in the finest late-Roman mosaics found anywhere

Itinerary 2017

Day 1

We arrive in Bologna and transfer to our hotel in Ravenna.

Day 2

We explore Ravenna and its remarkable collection of churches and monuments, including: the Arian Baptistry and Bishop’s Palace, which houses extraordinary early Christian artefacts from the city’s golden age. We end the day at the Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra, an innovatively excavated aristocratic house with its own mosaic floors.

Day 3

We begin at the astounding complex of buildings around San Vitale. We continue to Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, originally the palace church of Theoderic the Great, with wonderful mosaics. Finally, we visit Sant’ Apollinare in Classe, the ancient port of Ravenna. The great Church of Sant’ Apollinare is found here, with its glorious apse mosaics and array of great marble sarcophagi of 6th century bishops and notables.

Day 4

We leave Ravenna, stopping at the great stone Tomb of King Theoderic the Great. We continue to the abbey of Pomposa, founded in the 7th century in marshes and lagoons, with an arm of the River Po running on each side; it has a fine 12th century mosaic floor and frescoes. We stop at Comacchio - a
miniature Venice of sorts - where we visit the Museo della Nave and its Roman ships. We then drive to Grado.

On Christmas Eve a fireworks display, set to classical music, takes place in the Town Square.

Midnight Mass is also a very important part of Italian Christmas tradition – be prepared to stay on your feet if you join the crowds – it’s usually standing room only.

Day 5

Christmas day is spent exploring Grado and its lagoon. We will take a boat trip in the morning out to the sanctuary of Barbana Island, originally founded in 582 and now housing a community of Franciscan monks.

We stop to enjoy a traditional Italian Christmas lunch.

Afterwards, you are free to explore the town at your own pace.

Day 6

Aquileia is one of the greatest cities of the Roman world. We explore the Cathedral and mosaics found under the campanile. We walk along the ruins of the riverine port to the early Christian museum at Monastero. We spend the afternoon viewing the superb collections in the National Archaeological Museum.

Day 7

We leave Grado and Aquileia behind and stop at Concordia Sagittaria to see one of the most extraordinary excavations of recent years, the Apostolic Basilica. We transfer to Venice for return flights home or onward journeys.

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager
  2. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  3. Meals - All meals included - dinners with wine
  4. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  5. Field Notes
  6. Hotels - 3 nights situated in the bustling side streets of the old walled city, very near to the Basilica of San Vitale in the centre of Ravenna, 3 nights in a small and friendly 4 star hotel overlooking the harbour front of Grado
  7. Flights - London to Bologna; Venice to London

Hotel Info

3 nights situated in the bustling side streets of the old walled city, very near to the Basilica of San Vitale in the centre of Ravenna
3 nights in a small and friendly 4 star hotel overlooking the harbour front of Grado

Book now

2017 Tour Details

Thu 21st December - Wed 27th December

Call for availability

£2,195

ex. flights: £1,975

sgl supp: £180

RAC17A

Led By: Professor Tony King

Guide Lecturer

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