Ravenna - Italy

Ravenna (Italian pronunciation: [raˈvenna], also locally [raˈvɛnna] (About this sound listen); Romagnol: Ravèna) is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. It was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until that empire collapsed in 476. It then served as the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom until it was re-conquered in 540 by the Byzantine Empire. Afterwards, the city formed the centre of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Lombards in 751, after which it became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards.

Although an inland city, Ravenna is connected to the Adriatic Sea by the Candiano Canal. It is known for its well-preserved late Roman and Byzantine architecture, and has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The late 5th century saw the dissolution of Roman authority in the west, and the last person to hold the title of emperor in the West was deposed in 476 by the general Odoacer. Odoacer ruled as King of Italy for 13 years, but in 489 the Eastern Emperor Zeno sent the Ostrogoth King Theoderic the Great to re-take the Italian peninsula. After losing the Battle of Verona, Odoacer retreated to Ravenna, where he withstood a siege of three years by Theoderic, until the taking of Rimini deprived Ravenna of supplies. Theoderic took Ravenna in 493, supposedly slew Odoacer with his own hands, and Ravenna became the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy. Theoderic, following his imperial predecessors, also built many splendid buildings in and around Ravenna, including his palace church Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, an Arian cathedral (now Santo Spirito) and Baptistery, and his own Mausoleum just outside the walls.

In 1198 Ravenna led a league of Romagna cities against the Emperor, and the Pope was able to subdue it. After the war of 1218 the Traversari family was able to impose its rule in the city, which lasted until 1240. After a short period under an Imperial vicar, Ravenna was returned to the Papal States in 1248 and again to the Traversari until, in 1275, the Da Polenta established their long-lasting seigniory. One of the most illustrious residents of Ravenna at this time was the exiled poet Dante. The last of the Da Polenta, Ostasio III, was ousted by the Republic of Venice in 1440, and the city was annexed to the Venetian territories.

Ravenna was ruled by Venice until 1509, when the area was invaded in the course of the Italian Wars. In 1512, during the Holy League wars, Ravenna was sacked by the French following the Battle of Ravenna. Ravenna was also known during the Renaissance as the birthplace of the Monster of Ravenna.

After the Venetian withdrawal, Ravenna was again ruled by legates of the Pope as part of the Papal States. The city was damaged in a tremendous flood in May 1636. Over the next 300 years, a network of canals diverted nearby rivers and drained nearby swamps, thus reducing the possibility of flooding and creating a large belt of agricultural land around the city.

It continued to be under Byzantine rule until it was invaded by the Lombards in 751, and it was then annexed by King of the Franks Pippin the Younger. It was placed under papal rule by Pippin the Younger in 756 or 757. Ravenna was subsequently ruled by the Holy See until it was given independence in the 12th century. The papacy gained control again in 1278 and was led by papal vicars until it was invaded by Venice in 1441. The War of the League of Cambrai took place near Ravenna in 1512, in which the papal forces were defeated, but the French forces were almost entirely killed and were driven from Italy. It remained under the rule of the Holy See until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

In 1921, uprisings in Ravenna triggered a rapid advance of the Fascist movement in the region. Buildings belonging to the Republicans and socialists were seized or burnt down by Italo Balbo, and on July 29, he and his men moved throughout the provinces of Ravenna and Forli, burning every socialist organisation headquarters in a night of terror which was later called the "column of fire". This was a pivotal moment in the advance of Fascism in northern Italy.

Emilia-Romagna (Italian pronunciation: [eˈmiːlja roˈmaɲɲa]; Emilian and Romagnol: Emélia-Rumâgna) is an administrative Region of Northeast Italy comprising the historical regions of Emilia and Romagna. Its capital is Bologna. It has an area of 22,446 km2 (8,666 sq mi), and about 4.4 million inhabitants.

Emilia-Romagna is one of the wealthiest and most developed regions in Europe, with the third highest GDP per capita in Italy. Bologna, its capital, has one of Italy's highest quality of life indices and advanced social services. Emilia-Romagna is also a cultural and tourist centre, being the home of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world, containing Romanesque and Renaissance cities (such as Modena, Parma and Ferrara), a former Western Roman Empire capital such as Ravenna, encompassing eleven UNESCO heritage sites, being a centre for food and automobile production (home of automotive companies such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani, De Tomaso and Ducati) and having popular coastal resorts such as Cervia, Cesenatico, Rimini and Riccione. In 2018, the Lonely Planet guide named Emilia Romagna as the best place to see in Europe.

The region of Emilia-Romagna consists of nine provinces and covers an area of 22,446 km² (8,666 sq. mi.), ranking sixth in Italy. Nearly half of the region (48%) consists of plains while 27% is hilly and 25% mountainous. The region's section of the Apennines is marked by areas of flisch, badland erosion (calanques) and caves. The mountains stretch for more than 300 km (186.41 mi) from the north to the south-east, with only three peaks above 2,000 m – Monte Cimone (2,165 m), Monte Cusna (2,121 m) and Alpe di Succiso (2,017 m).

The plain was formed by the gradual retreat of the sea from the Po basin and by the detritus deposited by the rivers. Almost entirely marshland in ancient times, its history is characterised by the hard work of its people to reclaim and reshape the land in order to achieve a better standard of living.

The geology varies, with lagoons and saline areas in the north and many thermal springs throughout the rest of the region as a result of groundwater rising towards the surface at different periods of history. All the rivers rise locally in the Apennines except for the Po, which has its source in the Alps in Piedmont. The northern border of Emilia-Romagna follows the path of the river for 263 km (163.42 mi).

The region has a temperate broadleaved and mixed forests and the vegetation may be divided into belts: the Common oak-European hornbeam belt (Padan plain and adriatic coast) which is now covered (apart from the Mesóla forest in Province of Ferrara) with fruit orchards and fields of wheat and sugar beet, the Pubescent oak-European hop-hornbeam belt on the lower slopes up to 900 m, the European beech-Silver fir belt between 1,000 and 1,500 m and the final mountain heath belt. Emilia-Romagna has two Italian National Parks, the Foreste Casentinesi National Park and the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park. In the first one are enclosed the forests with the most beautiful and lively autumn colors of Italy and one of the last old-growth beech forest of Europe (Sasso Fratino).

The population density, which was equal to 197 inhabitants per km² in 2010, is just below the national average. The population of this region is traditionally evenly distributed, with no dominant metropolis but rather a line of medium-sized cities along the Via Emilia, where the majority of regional industrial production is concentrated. The coast of Romagna is also densely populated due to the booming seaside tourism in recent decades. In the peripheral areas of the Apennine Mountains and the agricultural plains around Ferrara and Piacenza the population is less dense.

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