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Biding Time in RavennaThe older man sitting next to me at dinner reached over and took my fork.  He speared ravioli off his plate and handed it to me with a big grin. I was seated at a long table next to a very sweet older couple who were here in Ravenna for dinner – they owned a pensione on the lido (beach) nearby.  We had managed some basic communication, and I was pondering the menu.   As usual I couldn’t make up my mind – I asked them what they were having and if they liked it.So he pointed to the menu what he had ordered and gave me a taste.  The wife took the fork and gave me a taste of her calamari with asparagus on pasta, too.  Both delicious.  And made more special than the taste was the kindness of these two people who embraced a stranger.It’s encounters like these that make travel special.  More than any art or sites or epic bike rides.  It’s connecting with people along the way that I remember the most.  And for whatever reason, the last few days in Ravenna – and now in the small medieval town of Brisighella - I’m finding these experiences are just coming one after another.  My second night in Ravenna the older man next to me at dinner was shocked I was cycling solo through Italy.  He was telling all the waiters and people around “She’s cycling alone through Italy” very loudly and trying to ask me questions in rapid-fire Italian I had no way of understanding.  It was a bit embarrassing, until he tried to feed me his potatoes because when saw what I ordered for dinner he decided I wasn’t eating enough. And when he saw my Brazino (bass cooked in salt – incredibly


I reluctantly listed the days left between now and when I fly out on a sheet of hotel stationary.  Time to figure out how to get back to Rome and make my flight. Suddenly there is more to do than I can possibly fit in.  I have to pick.  Of course there are no bad choices. The business of figuring out how to get myself back to Rome took the better part of the afternoon.  In between emails, I would head out and spend a couple of hours with my head craned back taking in Ravenna’s incredible 5thcentury mosaics that light up the churches in the city. Section of Mosaic in Basilica d'Sant Apollinare, Ravenna This early Christian art is all about light.  The faces on familiar saints and icons are somehow more compelling and human than the dark medieval paintings, even though they are made of stone.  This is the incredible time in history where the Greeks and the Romans and Byzantium collide … and they met here in Ravenna. Yet the city Ravenna wears this legacy very casually – the mosaics are hidden in churches that are plain brick on the outside tucked into a very business-like and calm city.  I confess I don't find the city itself very compelling, though I'm glad to be here to see what they offer to the world no other city can match. Near the end of a long trip my thoughts always drift to home.  Today I read the local news for the first time in a month.  I scanned facebook for news.  It occurred to me to check my bank account to make sure the bills were paid.  I look on all the lost pet sites for the first time in weeks just in case – by some miracle – my lost dog turned up somewhere

Wetlands and beautiful riding

 The ride south from Comacchio - a canal town that sits on the edge of a large, brackish lagoon - to Ravenna was relatively easy.  Cycling south around the edge of the lagoon and across cyclepaths built on dikes between the lagoons and canals was a great way to see the wildlife up close.  There were remnants of abondoned and flooded out brick buildings that the brackish water had reclaimed over the centuries standing partially submerged in the mud.  And it was full of birds - feeding on fish and water creatures and insects, - including a huge flock of resident flamingos.Sadly the flamingos did not cooperate to come close enough to pose, but here are some other photos of this gorgeous area.Comacchio, Italy canalsFishing shacks with large nets lined the lagoonRiding several miles across a narrow dike between a canal and the lagoon made for slow going and required dodging thistles and eating a few bugs but was incredibly beautiful