There cannot be many places in Western Europe which had their glory days at the end of the 5th century AD. Ravenna Italy is probably the only city which did. This is where DonQui finds himself — as ever on the trail of ‘old stuff’. And what a wonderful collection of ‘old stuff’ it is!
If you are thinking of a few piles of rubble which mark where this or that ancient Roman building used to stand, think again. Not only are many buildings still in tact, thanks to the fact that they were Christian churches, but their interiors are covered with incredibly vibrant mosaics.
Ravenna was the capital of the West Roman empire in her last years as it was more easily defensible than Rome thanks to the surrounding marshes. The Ostrogoths made it their capital in the 6th century and later the East Roman empire took it back.
To get here, DonQui flew to Bologna and then took the train. Compared to the sleek modern intercity which took him from Madrid to Toledo a couple of weeks back, the small regional train was far less swish but it did the job, getting him to Ravenna after a journey of 1 hour 30 minutes through fairly uninteresting countryside.
It is not just old stuff in Ravenna. The beautifully kept, elegant streets are filled with fine restaurants, stylish shops and fashionably dressed people.
It is just as DonQui expected — this being northern Italy after all!
At 7pm it is far too early to eat by Italian standards so DonQui goes in search of a watering hole where he can sit down to write. Spotting a young man with a computer in front of Martins Caffe he decides this will do the trick. Half the place is devoted to selling stupidly expensive handbags to fashionistas who inexplicably like such things. The other half houses a tempting bar. DonQui cannot help but admire the business acumen of the owners in providing a shop for ladies and a bar for their men-in-waiting.
DonQui sits himself down and orders a Moratti Bianca — a ‘white’ wheat beer which is perfect for the 27 degree evening temperature. It comes complete with an astonishing array of tasty comestibles (at no extra charge) which does away with the need for supper given that DonQui had a very good lunch earlier.
Tomorrow he will explore some more.