• Ravenna, Italy
    Mausoleum of Galla Placidia


Ravenna's churches and their revered mosaics date from the time when it was the center of Western civilization — a civilization in transition, from Roman to barbarian to Byzantine to medieval. That's why this low-key town offers the best look at the glories of Byzantium this side of Istanbul — specifically, the richest collection anywhere of mosaics from the fifth and sixth centuries — as well as a peaceful charm. It may be less prettied-up than some of the more famous Italian towns, but it also provides relif from the touristic intensity of nearby Venice.