Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)
Towards the end of the 19th century, Oscar Wilde changed its itinerary to include Brindisi from where he was to go on to Greece. This detour brough him to Ravenna for a short stay of just a few days, a city that was to capture his imagination. In Ravenna, Wilde found those qualities of silence, mystery and sadness which are so dear to travelling English poets who had visited the cities of Northern Italy before him.
[…] A year ago! - it seems a little time
Since last I saw that lordly southern clime,
Where flower and fruit to purple radiance blow,
And like bright lamps the fabled apples glow.
Full Spring it was - and by rich flowering vines,
Dark olive-groves and noble forest-pines,
I rode at will; the moist glad air was sweet,
The white road rang beneath my horse's feet,
And musing on Ravenna's ancient name,
I watched the day till, marked with wounds of flame,
The turquoise sky to burnished gold was turned.
O how my heart with boyish passion burned,
When far away across the sedge and mere
I saw that Holy City rising clear,
Crowned with her crown of towers! - On and on
I galloped, racing with the setting sun,
And ere the crimson after-glow was passed,
I stood within Ravenna's walls at last! […]
Wilde, O. Tutta la poesia. A cura di Clemente Fusero. Milano: E. Dall'Oglio, 1962.
(Source: De Lutiis, Anna. Romantic Ravenna between memory and reality: evocative corners dear to foreign poets. Ravenna: Friends of Chichester Association, 2000)