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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 Ravenna low 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. Basilica of San Francesco and the flooded 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.

This place, which was designed to host the remains of Bishop Neon, is special because it is flooded due to subsidence and many goldfish swim in its waters.

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

2. Dante and the Zone of Silence

Ravenna preserves the remains of the father of the Italian language, Dante Alighieri, who died here in 1321.

There are many places that are related to the Supreme Poet, but there is an area of the historical centre specially paying homage to him: the Zone of Silence, encompassing Dante’s Tomb, Quadrarco of Braccioforte, the Old Franciscan Cloisters, Museo Dante, and the just mentioned Basilica of San Francesco.

In front of Dante’s Tomb Ravenna keeps the memory of the Poet alive through L’ora che volge il disìo – perpetual reading of the Divine Comedy. Every day, at sunset, you can attend or take part for free in the reading of a canto of the most famous work by Dante.

Tomba di Dante Alighieri (Ravenna)
Tomba di Dante Alighieri (Ravenna) | Foto © RavennaTourism (Comune di Ravenna)

3. The cloisters of 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.

The Classense Library often hosts exhibitions or cultural activities free of charge: read this page for more information on current events.

Animal lovers will discover that its rooms house a colony of cats: Byron, Teresa, Matta, and Obama frolic among those who frequent this place. One of the inner cloisters on the other hand, is home to an octogenarian tortoise.

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

4. Historical centre

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 path along the walls of Ravenna, Piazza del Popolo… But there are also other interesting stories hidden in less well-known places: the Wall of Droctulf and the Vincileonis Postern definitely are worth a chance…

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

6. 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 – 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.

7. Arian Baptistery

The Arian Baptistery is a little gem, and the mosaics of its dome even inspired Dante Aligheri while he was writing the final canticle of his Divine Comedy, Paradise.

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

7. Rasponi Garden

There is a garden in the center of the city that brings us back to the past: people call it “Giardino delle Erbe Dimenticate” (lit. Garden of forgotten herbs) because it hosts herbs that 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.

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

8. Street art

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: here is a map, find your favorite one!

Street Art, Ericailcane (Ravenna)
Street Art, Ericailcane (Ravenna) | Foto © Archivio Comune di Ravenna

9. Urban mosaics

In Ravenna, mosaic is everywhere: the stunning golden mosaics of the Unesco World Heritage Monuments are surely the first ones that come to mind, but the city is now a true open-air museum.

This ancient art has renewed itself over the centuries and now dots streets, squares and parks in many different forms.

Fontana "Ardera Purpurea" di Marco Bravura
Fontana “Ardera Purpurea” di Marco Bravura | Foto © Archivio Comune di Ravenna

10. Urban mosaics

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 area of the coastline has its special characteristics. 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)
Parco Marittimo (Lido Adriano, Ravenna),

On our 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:22 February 2024