June 22, 2006
Ravenna, Italy - Yesterday we were lucky enough to get to spend a half day in the beautiful city of Venice. We took a small boat over to the city where we got to see first hand the beautiful buildings, and the narrow alleys filled with shops and eateries with an antique appeal. We all managed to find our way through the city, which turned out to be much larger than any of us expected, and after enjoying some gelato in a café on the Grand Canal all of us left feeling as though we had truly experienced the city of Venice.
Today we explored the city of Ravenna. Most of us were not as excited about touring the city of Ravenna, because unlike Venice or Rome, it is not a city that we had heard of. However, to our surprise, we discovered within Ravenna a beautiful small city, known for its unbelievable mosaics. Our first stop was the church of Sant'Apollinare in Classe where we were all amazed by the intricacy and beauty of the mosaics that surrounded us. The tiles were so small and yet every tile was placed perfectly to form a beautiful picture with such significant meaning behind it. After taking in the beauty of the church, we went to the Piazza de Popolo which is similar to a large plaza, where the streets were designed for pedestrians only, and we were free to explore the city and its sites.
We all went our separate ways. Some of us chose to go into the shops that are authentic to Italy, and others of us chose to experience more beautiful cathedrals adorned with mosaics. The church of San Vitale was one destination within the Piazza and it contained not only breathtaking mosaics, but also a painting on the main dome of the ceiling that was so intricate and beautiful that you couldn't help but be astounded.
The church of San Vitale as well as the church of Sant'Apollinare in Classe are both Unesco world heritage sites, which means they are recognized by the UN and important world heritage sites; much to our amazement there are few Unesco world heritage sites in the world, but within Ravenna alone we got to see two. Also in Ravenna we saw Dante's tomb as well as other sites such as Mausoleo di Galla Placidia.
After a memorable day of touring and sight seeing, we played a team called Teodora in a gym that resembled a tent. It was definitely a new experience. The Teodora team was definitely very talented, especially when it came to defense but we played well and beat them in three games. We played a friendly fourth game with them and lost 30 to 28. It is truly amazing to play international teams because in a city where none of us can speak the language or find our way around without huge maps, we can all manage to relate through sport.
So far the trip has been amazing and I know we all look forward to experiencing more of Italy. We are off to Milan tomorrow.