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Thursday, June 10, 2010


I may sometimes appear to be bold and carefree, but sometimes I catch myself worrying and hesitating about odd things. I took the train to Ravenna yesterday, I wanted to see the Byzantine mosaics that the city is famous for. As I exited the train station, I watched two older women head to the nearby city-owned bike rental stand. Hmm, that could be interesting. But an irrational fear held me back.

I walked a few blocks towards the center of town and noticed that bikes were everywhere, with riders of all ages. Come on Elaine, what are you afraid of? I decided that of all of the crazy traveling I've been doing, that renting a bike in a bike-friendly medieval town hardly merits comment. And yet, I was afraid. But my feet hurt, and it was hot. So I turned around, plucked up my courage, and went back to rent a bike.

I felt like a six-year-old for the first few moments, remembering how to balance, to signal, to turn, to brake. Ah, it's starting to come back! A few minutes of loops around the block to get comfortable and then I started again towards the center of town. I was delighted to find that the historic center is almost exclusively reserved for pedestrians and bicycles. Before long, I discovered the freedom of exploring the maze of streets in a town that dates from the earliest days of the Roman empire. I pedaled through Ravenna, discovering the markets and visiting the museums and churches that are listed as World Heritage Sites.

Sadly, my photos don't do justice to the stunning mosaics. This is a closeup of a simple one at eye level.

The colors in the mausoleum below were brilliant. The size of an average piece of glass in this mosaic was no more than 1 cm.

This is the Byzantine church of San Vitale. The church and mosaics were built in the VI century from the years 526 to 547. Those aren't paintings! Each individual piece of glass in the mosaics has been individually placed, some of them by experts in restoration after damage by earthquakes and wars.


  1. Glad you got on the bike! The mosaics looks beautiful.

  2. Each individual piece HAS been placed! The plaster must be falling off my classroom walls.

  3. Whew, I knew I could count on you, Sonia. Now, about those commas and semicolons and ellipses. . .!

  4. Congratulations Elaine! I would feel the same about riding a bike right now. You go girl.

  5. Oh My Gosh -those mosaics! Wow.