Let the Early Christian Monuments take your breath away: Ravenna was the seat the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century, so it is home to the most exquisite collection of early Christian mosaics and monuments, eight of which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I grew up surrounded by these beauties, but I am still blown away every time I visit! The Basilica di San Vitale is a magical place, with its octagonal plan and its incredible wealth of Byzantine Vmosaics – my favourite is the panel depicting Empress Theodora, looking like a goddess with her golden halo, crown and dripping in jewels. The blue sky of stars covering the ceiling of the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia is also magnificent.
Eat piadina at Enoteca Ca’ de Ven: you can’t go to Emilia Romagna [county where Ravenna is located] without trying piadina! This typical thin flatbread made with flour, lard, salt and water is delicious on its own or filled with anything from prosciutto to Nutella. Ca’ de Ven, a beautiful wine bar in a 15th century Palazzo with high frescoed ceilings, has been a bit of an institution since the seventies for locals and visitors alike, with its relaxed, convivial atmosphere and excellent list of regional wines. Try your piada with a side of squaquerone (a traditional soft cheese) and caramelised figs, and a glass of Sangiovese. Forget the calories – it’s worth it! Via Corrado Ricci, 24
The Basilica di San Vitale / the Etore Sottsass pavilion at the Museo Arredo Contemporaneo
Go vintage treasure hunting at A.N.G.E.L.O. Vintage Palace (Lugo): A.N.G.E.L.O. is a cult destination for vintage lovers from all over Europe, and it is less than a half hour drive from Ravenna. I remember taking the train to Lugo during my teenage hippy phase to go and buy my first pair of second hand denim flares and shearling jacket. Now I still buy my jeans there – there is a huge selection of nineties Levi’s – and I love getting lost among their incredible collection of vintage couture: from Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent to Romeo Gigli, Capucci and Roberta di Camerino, it is literally a treasure trove. Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, 59
Get some interior envy at the Museo Arredo Contemporaneo (Russi): open by appointment only, this Ettore Sottsass-designed pavilion hosts an impressive collection of hundreds of masterpieces of international furniture design spanning from 1880 to 1980. From Le Corbusier, Jean Prouvé, Gio Ponti, Charles Eames, to Gae Aulenti, Marco Zanuso, Gaetano Pesce, Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni, and of course Sottsass, this is where you can find all your interiors fantasies under one roof. Strada Statale S. Vitale 253, Russi
Enoteca Ca’ de Ven / Antica Trattoria Al Gallo 1909
Have a decadent dinner at Antica Trattoria Al Gallo 1909: another Ravenna institution, Al Gallo is a traditional trattoria that has been run by four generations of the same family for over a century. With its Liberty decor, full of objects, statues and plants, walls covered in paintings, prints and photographs, and large stained glass double doors leading onto a beautiful garden, it oozes charm and serves the most delicious food EVER! Try the cheese and truffle bigne’, the fava bean purée with spicy herbs, followed by a traditional regional dish like cappelletti or tagliatelle al ragu. The menu evolves depending on the seasonal local produce, so whether it’s artichokes, mushrooms, asparagus or truffle, they will prepare something gorgeous with it. For dessert, try the zuppa inglese and end with a little glass of nocino, a liquor made from unripe green walnuts. Probably my favourite restaurant in the world! Via Maggiore 87