Ravenna, about 82 km east of Bologna, was most important as the capital of the Western Roman Empire from 402-476, the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths (a christian civilisation that defeated the Western Romans) from 476-540, and the Italian flagship city for the Byzantine Empire after its reconquest of the area from 540-751. These periods produced some of the greatest religious and secular mosaics in the world, but after that, the city fell into obscurity, mostly overshadowed by the greater city-states of Italy, like Venice, Florence and Genoa (it was enough of a cultural wasteland that Dante Aligheri was exiled there from Florence as a punishment for supporting a failed rebellion), changing hands and being sacked and looted multiple times (most notably by Charlemagne on the personal authority of the Pope). While this was’t great for the city, it did mean that its greatest treasures, the mosaics, have been kept from harm, rather than being taken down or demolished in favour of reuse of land or buildings, like happens in cities with greater importance across Europe, and that its mosaics can be the main focus of a visit here rather than having to bounce around through different periods (you can see a similar phenomenon by comparing Edinburgh Castle, which was used continuously for a very long time with many different purposes and thus has something of a confused feel; and Stirling Castle, which was the Royal Palace for less than a century and then sunk into comparative obscurity, and thus has a unified and well-preserved overall feel). This may not be much good for the people living there, but it makes visiting the place a pleasurable breeze. This is not to say that there isn’t a good quantity of modernity: in recent years tourism has taken off and brought a wide variety of cultural events and technological conveniences to Ravenna. So, walking through the city, I saw a great quantity of Byzantine mosaics, the tomb and alleged (but not actual) palace of the Gothic king Theodoric, the tomb of Dante Aligheri and a Renaissance fortress; ate a kebab, used the free wifi in the city centre where a public movie showing was set up, and walked past a shop dedicated to lego. Ravenna is marvellous; you should definitely get down there.