Ravenna, Italy is known for amazing mosaics in its cathedrals, museums, and art shops. More on that in a moment. The city also appreciates political commentary, as shown by this poster we found during our tour of the old town district. Have you ever played Risk? We use to play this board game on long, rainy winter days. It is not a quick game, just as Putin’s adventures in Eastern Europe look to be a sad, drawn-out geopolitical affair.
The Basilica of San Vitale is a 6th century church, and one of eight structures in Ravenna listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We can’t recall if the structure has a hexagonal or octagonal floor plan (octagonal, I think), but the interior of this church is lined with amazing mosaics. Byzantine-era artists created these mosaics to glorify God and to illustrate events from Biblical history.
Here is a view of the basilica interior with its vaulted ceilings and some of the mosaic artwork. We found a baptismal font on the main floor, suggesting that the basilica is still in use rather than simply serving as a museum.
The next two photos show some of the mosaics created to illustrate persons and events from the Old Testament. The upper left corner of the first mosaic shows Moses at the burning bush, although it looks like many small flames rather than one large one. The upper right corner shows Isaiah. The left side of the middle panel shows Abel offering his sacrifice to God (Gen 4), and the right side shows Melchizedek presiding at an altar (possibly from Gen 14?)..
The upper left corner of the next mosaic shows Jeremiah and the upper right corner shows Moses. The left side of the middle panel shows Abraham hosting the three visitors (Gen 18) with Sarah in the tent behind him. The right side shows Abraham about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, with the ram who would take Isaac’s place nearby (Gen 22). A hand is reaching from heaven to stop Abraham’s knife.
Turning from the religious to the mundane, we saw a number of fishing setups along the waterways, like the one below. The general scheme involved a large net that could be lowered to the bottom of the waterway. The fisherman would leave the net to sit there for maybe an hour or more, and then the ropes on pulleys would suddenly raise it up and out of the water. Then the fisherman would pull it ashore to see what kind of fish (if any) it caught. Probably not as much of a sure thing as fishing with dynamite, but it must have been productive given that we saw dozens of these setups.
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Jesse, really enjoying the pictures and commentary. Thanks.