October 18, 2011

10 days and 2395 photographs later.... Part 2 - by Denise Buisman Pilger

The next part of our trip would take us to the Adriatic Coast. After dodging a multitude of scooter drivers with a death wish we picked up the highway to cross Italy, encountering stunning views of rugged mountains and villages perched on impossible cliffs along the way. Knowing that most of the Adriatic coastline is filled with high-rise hotels and tacky beach resorts we picked Parco del Conero as our goal. This 58 sq km park only a couple of minutes from Ancona offered not only stunning views on an almost unspoiled piece of coastline but also the unique experience of spending the night in an actual fort located on the beach. 

Fortino Napoleonico didn’t disappoint, we had a beautiful suite and the whole place had an amazing atmosphere. We arrived in time for a lovely stroll along the beach and a great meal overlooking the ocean. 

The next day it was only a short 2 hour drive to Ravenna for one of the most stunning church interiors I have ever seen. We started our tour of Ravenna’s sights at the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo which had two very impressive mosaics lining both walls. Though impressive in size and detail I wasn’t blown away by them and given that the Lonely Planet claimed them to be some of Ravenna’s most beautiful mosaics I was completely unprepared for the beauty that awaited me at the Basilica de San Vitale. The multitude of colors, the detail of the mosaics and the sheer amount of decorations took my breath away. The mosaics being the main attraction in this church this is where most of the people flock towards, and rightfully so, but for me the frescoed dome was equally as impressive. The experience of entering this sombre looking church and stepping through the arches into the main space is something I will remember for the rest of my life. 

Next up: Venice....... 

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