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.