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Official Tourist Information Site
Municipality of Ravenna

Rasponi Crypt and Roof Gardens of “Provincia” Palace

Piazza San Francesco, 1 - Ravenna
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The crypt of the Rasponi Counts, together with the hanging gardens surrounding it, is all that remains of the palace built in 1600 for the patrician family of the same name from Ravenna who lived there until the end of the nineteenth century. Later it was sold as a hotel, but the building was destroyed in a fire in 1922.

Since then, there is another building in its place in the neo romantic style, where the official function rooms and offices of the Province are located. Visitor access to the crypt is from the side portico of the building which overlooks the beautiful Piazza San Francesco. 

Between 1300 and 1800 the Rasponi family was one of the oldest and most powerful families in Ravenna with, in the sixteenth century, as many as eight different branches that often competed with each other.  

At the end of the eighteenth century the founder of the family Count Cristino had a funerary chapel built inside the palace, later renamed “cripta”, but which never housed the remains of any family member. 

Access is from the garden and consists of a first room on which a neo-gothic tower of the end of the nineteenth century is inserted upwards. It has an exquisitely decorative function and undoubtedly provides a touch of atmosphere to the hanging garden; then you pass into a second room in which a niche houses a stone sphere on which the inscription “Sic vita pendet ab alto” (“Thus life descends from above“) is written, and finally a small presbytery designed for liturgical celebrations opens up on the left.

The paving is extremely interesting because it is created with the juxtaposition of several mosaic fragments dating back to the sixth century from the destroyed Church of San Severo a Classe.

The random assembly of the different mosaic fragments creates a pattern of shapes and colours which is more decorative than narrative. Among the figures of animals, flowers and geometrical motifs – each of which therefore has a meaning only in itself – there is a brilliant dispersion of colour, rendered by some enamelled mosaic tesserae, which helps to reinforce this impression of a skilful reinterpretation of a treasure trove of classical art with a modern twist.

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Hanging Gardens, the elegance of nature is also urban furniture

Just as we will see in the Giardino delle Erbe Dimenticate (Garden of Forgotten Herbs) in Piazzetta Sarpi, next to another Rasponi palazzo, the Hanging Gardens that surround this crypt also offer a wonderful oasis of naturalness and serenity among cypresses, boxwoods and bay trees in the historic centre.

Following the fifteenth century example, in the patrician palaces too, the gardens were designed as an elegant furnishing element and an object of admiration and respect by the guests who could see the singularity of the solutions and the variety of plants and flowers.

This Italian-style garden, still framed today by the neo-Gothic tower that surmounts the crypt, has a beautiful circular fountain with refreshing water features at its centre.

It then rises up on several levels and shades of green architecture, to reach a first hanging terrace, at the time connected by means of a side towards the stables and warehouses, overlooking Via Santi and the roofs of the city; then we arrive at the top of the tower in the shade of a romantic pergola of vines, to then conclude the walk on the belvedere overlooking Piazza San Francesco and the bell tower of the Church where the funeral of the Supreme Poet, Dante Alighieri, was celebrated.

Further information

Opening times

Pursuant to the Decree of the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic (3 November 2020), all monuments managed by RavennAntica will be closed to the public until further notice.

Entrance fee

Ticket: €2
Concession (students, accompanying person for disabled people), valid also for groups (of at least 15 people): €1
School groups: €0.50
Free admission: children (under 6 years old); journalists; disabled people; RavennAntica Friends, Italian tour guides; group leaders; soldiers; Mibac members
Guided tour for groups: €40

Combined ticket (Cripta Rasponi + Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra + Tamo): €7

Accessibility

The highest terraces and the crypt are NOT accessible to disabled people.

How to get there

The Palace is located in the car-free zone of the city centre. Bus stop 20m away for all bus routes; car park 50m away, coach park 20m away, partly accessible for wheelchairs. Close to the Basilica of S. Francesco, Dante’s tomb, Quadrarco di Braccioforte and Dante Museum, St. Nicolò, Classense Library and Risorgimento Museum.

A cura della Redazione Locale
E-mail: turismo@comune.ravenna.it

Last edit:4 June 2021

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