I meant to write this post months ago - still, better late than never!
Last Easter I was lucky enough to visit Ravenna, a beautiful city in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which is famous for its extraordinary collection of early Christian and Byzantine mosaics - seven of the mosaics in Ravenna, and one in nearby Classe, have achieved UNESCO World Heritage status. Ravenna was the seat of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, Theoderic the Great, King of the Ostrogoths, in the 6th century, and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century - the mosaics date from this period.
Most mosaics are within walking distance of each other in the historic centre of Ravenna and it is just a short train journey to Sant' Apollinare in Classe. It is really quite overwhelming to see so many beautiful mosaics in one place. The mosaic tradition is alive and well in Ravenna and the AIMC (International Association of Contemporary Mosaicists), in partnership with Ravenna City Council, organize the RavennaMosaico International Festival every two years. Museo Tamo and MAR(Museo D'Arte della Citta di Ravenna) explain the history of mosaic to visitors. Even the road signs are decorated with mosaic!
Ravenna is well worth visiting - we were there for a long weekend and managed to see everything we had planned to. The historic centre of Ravenna is quiet and easy to navigate and there are some very nice restaurants too.