Immerse Yourself Into Italian Culture At This Underrated Destination

Most tourists flock to Italy's more well-known cities, like Florence and Rome, to immerse themselves in Italian culture. Smaller Italian destinations often fly under the radar, but Italy is home to a plethora of places well worth visiting. From hilltop towns to coastal retreats, underrated tourist destinations in Italy aren't hard to come by. One city in northeastern Italy near the Adriatic Sea often gets overlooked, but it shouldn't. It's steeped in history and oozes art, music, and delicious food and wine.

Ravenna, Italy was the capital of the Western Roman Empire for nearly 350 years, and the architecture, art, and culture still reflect a beautiful combination of Roman and Byzantine influence. The city is a UNESCO site featuring eight World Heritage Monuments. Other must-see highlights include world-class museums and art galleries, restaurants serving local fare, and unique hotels to call home while you explore Ravenna.

Things to do in Ravenna

Ravenna offers ample opportunities to immerse yourself in Italian culture — and the city's 5th and 6th century A.D. World Heritage Monuments are a great place to start. These include the Basilica di San Vitale, the Neonian Baptistry, and the Archiepiscopal Chapel, just to name a few! The most famous of these monuments is possibly the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. One of the oldest buildings in the city, the interior contains unbelievably intricate mosaic decorations. Tourists will likely also enjoy visiting Dante's Tomb or one of many museums, like the National Museum of Ravenna, which showcases frescoes dedicated to Santa Chiara, Roman relics, and other fascinating artifacts.

And if you're not a history buff, there's still plenty to do on your Ravenna vacation. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Pine Forest of Classe, one of the largest natural green spaces on the Adriatic Coast. Beach vacationers can escape to one of nine beach resorts within a few miles of the city center, and foodies can relax at one of Ravenna's many delightful restaurants by digging into a plate of local favorites, like pinzimonio, raw vegetables accompanied by an oil dip.

Where to stay in Ravenna

With various accommodations in Ravenna, choosing where to stay can be challenging. Palazzo Bezzi (starting at approximately $140) is highly rated and located amongst the best art and culture Ravenna has to offer in the historic city center. The hotel offers a wide variety of room types. It's pet-friendly, children-friendly, and provides the convenience of 24-hour reception.

Alternatively, for tourists exploring Italy on a budget, try NH Ravena or Hotel Astoria. NH Ravena (from $95 per night) is within walking distance of the train station, shops, restaurants, and all eight UNESCO World Heritage monuments. Hotel Astoria (from $75 per night) is located just above the ancient city wall. It conveniently sits close to the historic city center, the train station, and the harbor. Easy to access all of Ravenna's cultural attractions, this hotel has a great breakfast offering and puts travelers in a central location ideal for exploring the entire city.