As I mentioned, Danita’s hotel is just a few meters (look at me using my metric) down from mine, so before our first day of treno travel, we grab a quick bite and cappuccino at her place.
Her concierge (rough morning for him…more on that from Danita) calls our cab and we are scooted to Santa Maria Novella Stazione…a bit early….certo. I know we only need to arrive 30 minutes max before our treno departs but I do not want to rob Danita of the Esperienza Della Stazione.
Dieci minuti before our treno is to partire, it arrives, we board, find our reserved seats…no issues.
I hope you enjoyed that seamless segment of our treno travel…because that is where it ends!
To be honest, days have passed and I do not even remember all the issues we encountered…but I’ll do my best.
We wait a bit in the Bologna Stazione, feeling pretty confident about this excursion (silly, silly me). I see our train number but the platform numbers to not jive. I’m still calm at this point as I approach one of many Trenitalia uomini who attempt to assist. First one says, no…we should be on binario 10…so we scoot to 10. Those of you who travel by treno are aware of the ups and downs, literally and figuratively, involved in changing your binario. Danita is determined to use the lift each time and I agree…for now.
On binario 10, we begin to wonder…because again…the information in my hand and the information on the board and the information on their little poster thingy and the information we are getting from the workers on the platforms…don’t jive.
Starting to get a bit nervous now…I go to the window to ask. With 4 people in front of me, I am aware this could take 4 days…I could go into a 10 paragraph account of the conversations had while I was in line, the faces and gestures made by the uomini behind the windows, sharing their treno expertise with those in need…but I will stick to the facts.
During all this, there were additional tickets bought…
There were trains we tried to shove ourselves onto but could not. It is one thing when traveling solo…I can and will squeeze on if need be. But when traveling by twos…makes it a bit more difficult. Stay tuned though…it can and WILL be done.
I make it to the front of the line and my exasperated uomo tells me the next direct (and by that I mean we do not have to switch trains…silly you, did you think that meant there were not 10 stops in between?) train to Ravenna ,on the way to Ancona, is in an hour from binario 7….Andiamo a 7.
We arrive at binario 7, which is between 2 stalled trains. We get “comfy”. Danita starts to read and I…I don’t remember what I did…write, edit, not sure. Anyway, a few minutes later, Danita says, “I don’t know how smart it is for us to be here all alone between two stalled trains where no one can see us.” Great…add that to my worries.
I hear an announcement in Italian for the train we originally wanted, different time…you guessed it, different track. Andiamo binario 3.
This time, I’m taking the stairs. I hustle up as the little blinking light indicating departure is flashing away. I look behind, no Danita. I make it to the top of the stairs, see a full to capacity treno…look behind, no Danita. The door closes in front of me. I push the button, opening it again…welcoming looks, by the way, on all the faces inside, stick my foot in…look behind me, the top of Danita’s head coming up the stairs. We both shove and I mean shove in with our luggage…look at each other and start laughing. Andiamo Ravenna….most likely.
After molto, molto stops and very little relief in capacity, (we ride the whole two hours in the entrance area…notice Danita’s foot at the bottom right of the photo below. Comfy as can be, on the floor of the train, with her kindle…Doug cringing here!) we arrive in Ravenna.
We take a taxi (no discussion needed) to our B&B.
I tell Danita, “Wait…I need to get a pic.” She replies, “With sweat from the front or back?”
We are greeted by Concerto. Kinda of a younger, flirtier version on Franco (mi amico in Capri). He insists we do not touch our bags, but when he goes to lift Danita’s he makes a groaning noise and asks, “Quanti giorni rimani in Italia?!”
Our first order of business is to wash our hands, crank the air down (remember…we are in Italy…not going to get a whole lot of relief) and go find a place to get a bite to eat. Concerto is concerned because this is not a time where much is open. It is about 2:00 or so. He does recommend a place near San Vitale (the reason we/I am here), so we head there to find our paradise in Ravenna.
Tre Piccoli Porcellini…
As we enjoy this respite, we try not to slip off our chairs from the sweat. Everyone is talking about the high heat…but it’s in celsius…so all we know it is indeed molto caldo.
If you are in Ravenna, we highly suggest you put Casa Spadoni on your list…maybe due or tre times…as we did.
After our wonderful lunch of caprese and bicchiere di vino bianco…oh and let’s not forget the best pane we have had…we head for the mosaics.
The Basilica of San Vitale is one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in all of Europe. In Art II, this is where we pick up our Art History lessons.
Ravenna, more specifically the mosaics of San Vitale, has been on my “want to see” list for years. I feel I bring so much more to our class discussions when I have had the experience of standing in front of the art.
The groundbreaking of the building was in 527 and the consecration in 547.
The Apse mosaic depicts (all in tiny, squares of glass mind you) a young Christ atop the world. Christ’s right hand is offering the martyr’s crown to Saint Vitale and on the left, Bishop Ecclesius offers a model of the church to Christ.
An aspect I enjoy speaking about are mosaics of the East Roman Emperor Justinian I and his Empress Theodora. This depiction undoubtedly illustrated that the Emperor is head of both church and state.
The triumphal arch mosaics of Jesus and the Apostles is equally breathtaking.
At this juncture, Danita heads back to Casa Spadoni and I roam and roam with the intent of finding the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe and its mosaics but only find Sant’Apollinare Nuovo…kinda. Anyway…I’ve let that go.
Disappointed in myself (but remember…I’ve let that go) and hot, I return to Casa Spadoni where Danita has made herself at home. We have an aperitivo, Spritz for me…Vino for her.
We both decide we need a couple of these maialino bicchiere, and while the waitress, Giada, (yes, we are on a first name basis with the staff) is washing us some, she notices me drawing. From the corner of my eye, I can tell this excites her. She returns with her sketchbook and pen pouch, offering me anything I need.
We share, as best we can, the enjoyment we find in drawing. She, much more talented than I, loved showing me her work, explaining a bit of many of the pieces as she did.
I think it was the highlight of her day someone took the time to listen and see this side of her.
With our aperitivo in us, we return to the B&B, shower and nap.
Neither one of us had much interest in getting up for dinner, but we rallied and returned to…Casa Spadoni.
Our first time, walking back to the B&B, we were not sure which way to head when the road forked. From a window above us, a man called out, “Do you need help-a?”
This time, walking back, we laughed when we realized we were basically standing under the sign of our B&B when we were confused.
Tutti e ‘bene quel che finisce bene…