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Luoghi, i personaggi e le storie che raccontano l’anima autentica di Ravenna

10 things to do in Ravenna (almost) for free: a low cost tour

Arian Baptistery (Ravenna)

Here’s how to enjoy visiting Ravennalow cost.

The Italian capital of mosaics is perfect for all budgets. Beyond the traditional touristic itinerary, the city offers many possibilities to those who wish to discover its treasures while not breaking the bank. If this is what you’re looking for, then this guide is perfect for you!

Here’s a list of things to fo and see in the city at (almost) zero cost!

1. Visit the Basilica of San Francesco and its Crypt

Piazza San Francesco, in the center of Ravenna, hides many treasures. One of these is the Basilica, which gives its name to the piazza and that in the 12th century was also  frequented by Dante. Entrance is free, and if you pay 1€ it is possible to illuminate the suggestive Crypt. This place, which was designed to host the remains of Bishop Neon, is special because it is flooded due to subsidence: the scales of many goldfish shine beneath its waters.

Basilica of San Francesco, crypt (Ravenna)
Basilica of San Francesco, crypt (Ravenna) | Photo © Nicola Strocchi

2. Visit the Classense Library

The Classense Library is the perfect destination for many reasons: it is not only an important library, but the structure is also a testimony to the past of Ravenna. This building was built in the 16th century as the seat of the Abbazia Camaldolese (Camaldolese Abbey), and traces of its past are still visible within its beautiful cloisters.

Its Aula Magna is splendid: a trip back in time and a delight for the eyes.

On the inside of the Classense Library there are often exhibitions or cultural activities free of charge: on this page you can remain updated on its events. For animal lovers, it will be a pleasure to discover that its rooms house a colony of felines: Byron, Teresa, Matta, and Obama frolic among those who frequent this place. Within the inner cloisters on the other hand, there is an octogenarian tortoise.

Classense Library - Aula Magna
Classense Library – Aula Magna | Photo © Archivio Comune di Ravenna

3. Take a stroll on the beach

The link between Ravenna and the sea is very strong. In the past, in place of some of the streets in the modern city center there were rivers, and the Mediterranean sea arrived all the way into the city center, up to the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista, which Galla Placidia had built in the 5th century. For this reason, discovering the 9 beach towns of Ravenna is very important in order to understand the city.

The sea has its charm in all of the seasons, and each coastal area has its particularities. What could be more relaxing than a nice, calm shore, where you can reflect on things with the sound of the waves in the background?

Parco Marittimo (Lido Adriano, Ravenna)Lido Adriano, Ravenna

4. Discover the Rasponi Crypt and the Hanging Gardens of the Provincia Palace

Ravenna is full of gardens, and the Roof Gardens of Palazzo della Provincia is a truly fascinating place: the vegetation of the Italian gardens, along with the serenity provided by the sounds of the fountain, surround the central area and wrap around the Neo Gothic tower of the Rasponi Crypt and its terraces.

Rasponi Crypt and Hanging Gardens of the Provincia Palace
Rasponi Crypt and Hanging Gardens of the Provincia Palace | Photo ©

5. Take a stroll through the city: an open-air museum

If you want to enjoy a pleasant day outdoors, you will find that Ravenna is a true open-air museum.

You can’t miss the Dante’s tomb and the Quadrarco of Braccioforte, the path along the walls of Ravenna, Piazza del Popolo… But there are also other little stories hidden in less well-known places: It’s worth the effort to seek out the Wall of Droctulf and the Vincileonis Postern

There are really many things to discover in Ravenna’s city center.

6. Make a visit to the so-called Theodoric’s Palace

When we talk about the Palace of Theodoric we are referring to the architectural remains of a palace located between the corner of Via di Roma and Via Alberoni. Even if it is called by this name, we can’t be sure about the details of its origin. According to some scholars, it must have been a gatehouse from the 7th-8th century built in order to protect the palace of the Exarchs, that is, the Byzantine-appointed governors of the Empire’s Italian provinces. Others maintain that the facade could be the remains of the Church of San Salvatore ad Calchi.

For more information on opening times click here. The entrance fee is 1€.

7. Admire the mosaics of the Arian Baptistery

The Arian Baptistery is a little gem, and the mosaics of its dome even influenced Dante Aligheri while he was thinking of the final canticle of his Divine Comedy, Paradise. The entrance to the Baptistery, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, only costs 2€. Here are its opening hours.

Arian Baptistery (Ravenna)
Arian Baptistery (Ravenna) | Photo © Giacomo Banchelli

8. Discover the Forgotten Herbs of Giardino Rasponi

There is a garden in the center of the city that brings us back to the past: people talk about the “Forgotten Herbs” because the herbs grown in this area were once used in ancient recipes for spice shops along with herbs that are better known to us today.

Its location in Piazzetta Paolo Serra makes it even more charming because from inside it’s possible to enjoy a beautiful view of the dome of the Cathedral and its circular bell tower.

Entrance to the garden is free, and it’s open from Monday to Friday, from 10.30 am to 2.30 pm and from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm.

Rasponi Garden, Ravenna
Rasponi Garden, Ravenna | Photo © Jacopo Alessandrini

9. Look for street art throughout the city

Street art aficionados have surely heard of Ravenna before, but those who aren’t so familiar with the topic may be pleasantly surprised by the richness of these works that our city offers. Among those that you can observe in the city, many were created by the internationally renowned artist Invader, who blends street art and mosaic art.

But there are also many murals: here is a map, find your favorite one!

Invader at the Planetarium, Ravenna Public Gardens
Invader at the Planetarium, Ravenna Public Gardens | Photo ©

10. A taste of Romagna: eat a piadina

If you want to discover the true flavour of the Romagna region while on a budget, the piadina is the regional dish with the best quality-price relationship. You can choose the traditional piadina, with Squacquerone cheese and arugula, or let yourself be tempted by the many other tasty combinations… The piadina is delicious however you choose to enjoy it!

Finally, it’s good to know that for those who have established residency in Ravenna entrance to many monuments is free of charge. Entrance is free to all on the first Sunday of each month to various museums, villas, archeological sites, and monuments.

On the Ravenna Tourism website it’s always possible to find an updated list of events, often free of charge, to enjoy the everyday life and culture of the city.

Chiara  Guerri

Chiara Guerri

The journey is my dimension. The love for discovery is one of its forms.

By the Local Editorial Staff

Publication date:21 March 2019
Revision date:5 May 2023