Next up on our European tour, Ravenna and Santiago. One could call both of these cities “detours” from other destinations that are “more on the beaten path” – Bologna in the case of Ravenna and Bilbao or Porto in the case of Santiago. But, both are cities that deserve their own visit because of the treasures they house or the experiences they afford.


This quintessential Italian town with its charming, pedestrian-zoned historic center, cobblestone streets leading to arcade-lined piazzas, and wine bars brimming with locals is home to spectacular Byzantine mosaics, all a Unesco World Heritage site. All of the town’s attributes combine to create an intimate atmosphere — even isolated, in a good way.

The Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna’s most visited site, offers a religious and cultural mash-up with an octagonal Roman floor plan, Byzantine architectural flourishes, glittering mosaics and remaining walls bedecked in Baroque frescoes.

At the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia — a Roman queen’s unused mausoleum, which boasts the town’s oldest mosaics, dating to 425 — take in the scene of San Lorenzo facing leaping flames, which inspired Dante’s ‘Inferno.’ By contrast, the starry, blue tile sky above, is edged in a border of geometric trompe l’oeil reminiscent of a Pucci scarf. This destination is not short on inspiration, apparently.

If not taking in the mosaics, then taking in Italy’s other great masterpieces is in order. At Ca’ de Vèn, a wine bar housed in a 15th-century tavern, enjoy a glass of local Sangiovese wine and a bite of Ravenna’s signature aperitif snacks: crostini spread with chicken liver pâté, squares of frittata, nuggets of fried pork skin. Make sure to sit at the communal table to get a sense of what it is to live in such rich history.

Ravenna is a must if you are escaping the hubbub of your big day and want to disappear with the fella you now call hubby.


For centuries, self-proclaimed pilgrims have trekked hundreds of miles to get to this city in Galicia in northwestern Spain, having traveled the ancient Christian pilgrimage routes collectively known as the Camino de Santiago, as it is believed that the city’s cathedral houses the remains of the apostle St. James.

The best way to experience Santiago is to wander romantic streets like Rúa do Villar, listen to street musicians playing gaita, or Spanish bagpies, in the Praterías or Quintana Plazas and watch pilgrims tapping their chest-high walking sticks.

Portico de la Gloria

Portico de la Gloria

But, all roads lead to the cathedral, another Unesco World Heritage site. The cathedral, considered a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, keeps the remarkable Pórtico de la Gloria, a jewel of the medieval sculpture. However, the authentic symbol of the city is the Baroque western façade of the cathedral, which forms one of the sides of the square of Obradoiro, one of the world´s most beautiful urban areas.

Santiago's food market is a fascinating, always lively scene, very clean, and with masses of fresh produce from the seas and countryside attractively displayed at 300-odd stalls. Stock up on tetilla cheese, cured meats, sausage, fruit and empanada (pastry pie) for a picnic. And, don’t miss out on the pulpo, or octopus, the Galicians favorite dish.

This city is decidedly pious, but for the less spiritual among you, Santiago is an ideal place to retreat to for your honeymoon.

Make sure to join us as we next make our way to Budapest, Hungary and Graz, Austria.