Tour guides favorites The Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna

07.02.2020

Hello everyone, I’m Silvia Togni, guide to Ravenna and Emilia-Romagna since 2000.

Today I would like to draw your attention to a detail of the Church of Saint Vital, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.

You are certainly familiar with its marvelous 5th century mosaics, but it is on the ground that you find something exceptional.

In front of the presbyterium, there is a labyrinth; it often happens in gothic cathedrals to find them.

I am thinking for example of that of Chartres, a town twinned with Ravenna in addition, that of Amiens or indeed that lost in Reims.

But there are also some in Italy, as in Pavia and Lucca, all dating from the 12th century. Our labyrinth dates from the 16th century, when the Benedictines, due to the subsidence of the land, needed to raise the ground.

Nothing prevents us from imagining a similar labyrinth already existing in Roman times, since we find there the same stones and the same marbles of the rest of the church.

Our labyrinth has something special: white triangles show us the direction to follow.

This spiritual journey brings us to the center of the basilica, under the dome, the highest point of the building which is more than 30 meters high, as if from this very point we could reach God and receive his grace.