Monday, 1 June 2015

Memories of Ravenna

My memory is like a slice of gruyere: in some spots it’s thick, dense, yet you just need to move 2 millimeters away from it to be faced with a huge hole. Complete void.
So it’s pretty normal for me to struggle trying to remember what I had for dinner about 1 hour ago, while I can clearly remember what was in the sandwich I had during my school trip to Milan in junior high (fontina and ham in between a sliced "musichiere" bread strip. Oh and I also had a small package of pear juice. And I got my walkman stolen on the underground, first clear sign that any relation of mine with this city was doomed to failure).
In the past the state of my short-term memory worried me a lot, but years of incidents had thought me how to deal with it most of the time: nothing that some Omega 3 and a big stash of post-it scattered around the house can’t solve it. Nowadays I even got rid of some of the most basic post-it that used to be on my front door: “Comb your hair”, “Slippers off, shoes on” and “Lock the door”, followed by “Take the keys with you”.
The long term memory, on the other hand, had always worried me less, even though it’s not the nicest thing ever either: the fact I can remember up to the smallest detail what somebody has once told me can turn into a ugly moment when I remind that same person about it months or years later while we’re having an argument.

Still, the notion of retaining such vivid images makes me happy most of the times. One of such occasion happened recently when I decided to spend a weekend in Ravenna.

Faced with the threat of 2 entire days in Milan, I looked for a solution and so on Saturday morning I was on a train that took me quickly to Bologna, where I stepped onto another train that dragged me ever so slowly to Ravenna: it stopped in every single station, even the ones that don’t exist.

Visiting Ravenna was stepping back right into my long term memory: I have vivid memories of my school books and Ravenna is so rich in history that I just needed to step in any of its church to be reminded about it.


“Ah, history books 4th grade elementary school, just with the extra of the Jo Nesbø novel”


“yeah, that’s High School textbook! Oh there was this one too!”

The byzantine mosaics Ravenna is famous for are already breathtaking in picture, but it's difficult to describe how unique they are, once you can admire them closely. It fills you with wonder at their mastership and craftiness. It's a lot to take in a single visit, because sometimes you got no idea of where to look: there's a small masterpiece tucked in any single corner of these churches, so that the only thing I found working for me was finding a spot to sit and look up, letting my eyes decide where to wander next.
On the other hand it makes looking at the rest of the city a bit tougher, because the shininess inside is not mirrored by anything remotely similar on the outside. But even that it's not a problem because people are really welcoming and warm.
The only regret I have is that I should have asked the guy I met at the piadineria where he got the awesome Guardians of the Galaxy pixelated t-shirt.

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