Home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, Ravenna has historically been a crossroads of people and culture – the gateway between the East and West – and it is the city’s rich history which is the inspiration for a multi-faceted festival, now celebrating its 28th season.
Every year from May to July, the entire city of Ravenna becomes a stage for two months: its staggering gilded basilicas, encrusted with mosaics, its elegant historical theatres, its cloisters, gardens, squares and ancient buildings are brought back to life with music, film and dance in a myriad of genres. Alongside the main festival strands, the Festival hosts daily performances celebrating Ravenna’s extraordinary history and its special relationship with Dante Alighieri who lived and died in the city.
Central to the festival is “The Roads of Frienship” – an annual musical pilgrimage led by Riccardo Muti, which takes a core group of Italian musicians on a journey to symbolic sites of both ancient and contemporary history. Following the project’s first pilgrimage to Sarajevo in 1997, the Ravenna Festival and Riccardo Muti have collaborated with musicians in cities across the world including Beirut, Jerusalem, Moscow, Istanbul, New York (Ground Zero), Cairo, Damascus, El Djem, Meknès, Nairobi, Tokyo and, most recently, Tehran and Kiev.
Each November the festival goes on to host an opera Autumn Trilogy nurturing emerging Italian talent and offering audiences the chance to enjoy a long weekend of music and the arts in one of Italy’s most historical cities.