Taste of Ravenna Walking Tour – from City Center
Tour Participation Requirements
According to tradition, the powerful Roman empress Galla Placidia – virtual ruler of the western world for 12 years of the 5th century – ordered the construction of the mausoleum that bears her name. A lover of fine art, she spared no expense in decking out her tomb. Inside the unassuming brick building are brilliant blue and green mosaics, dominating every inch of ceiling in the ancient structure.
It seems Galla's wish was to spend eternity under a starry night sky as there are over 800 stars etched into the mausoleum's ceiling. She was a devout Christian, too – the most famous mosaics in the mausoleum are fascinating relics of early Christian art, including one brilliantly portraying Christ in regal attire of gold and purple, in contrast to prior depictions of him as a simple shepherd.
But she died in Rome in 450, and no one's sure if she was ever actually buried in Ravenna.
The belief for centuries was that Galla Placidia's embalmed body was sitting upright in a sarcophagus next to her second husband and second-eldest son, but an accidental fire started by mischievous local boys in 1577 threw that belief into doubt.
With the embalmed bodies burnt beyond recognition, it's possible that imposter bodies had been placed in the ancient tombs sometime in the past, with the intention of passing them off as the real Placidia and her family.
Regardless of whose remains may or may not be entombed there, thousands still flock to this splendid landmark. The beauty of its mosaics is reason enough to venerate the place.
The art of inspiration
For a relatively small structure, relatively far from Rome, Placidia's mausoleum has benefited from some of the best unintentional travel marketing in history. Among those inspired to sing its praises were the poet Ezra Pound and psychologist Carl Jung, a one-time friend of Sigmund Freud. Celebrated composer Cole Porter wrote Night and Day after a visit, moved by the intense colors of the cupola mosaic depicting a glittering night sky.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.