A N. E. Province Of Italy, in Emilia, bordering on the Adriatic, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence, and Forli; area, 742 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 221,115. It is mountainous, especially in the south, and is traversed by the Savio, Santerno, and many other streams. The principal products are rice, grain, hemp, flax, and pine, anise, and coriander seeds. It comprises the former papal legation of Ravenna, excepting the district of Imola, which has been added to Bologna, but including that of Lugo, taken from Ferrara; the other two districts are Ravenna and Faenza.
A City, capital of the province, in a marshy plain on the river Montone, near the Adriatic, and 173 m. N. of Rome; pop. in 1872, 58,904. The principal buildings are the cathedral, of the 4th century, with fine pictures by Guido Reni; the church of Santa Maria della Rotonda, formerly the mausoleum of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, N. of the city proper; the basilica of San Vitale, remarkable chiefly for its splendid mosaics; the churches of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, built early in the 5th century by the empress Galla Placidia; and the remains of the palace of Theodosius, occupied after him by the exarchs. Among the many historical curiosities is the tomb of Dante, who died here. (See Dante, vol. v., p. 672.) Ravenna is the seat of an archbishop, and has many convents, a museum, library, and academy of fine arts. The chief pursuits are the culture of the vine and the rearing of silkworms, with the spinning and weaving of silk. The town was once situated on the Adriatic in the midst of marshes, but it is now some distance from the sea, and separated from it by the Pineta, a remarkable forest of pines extending for many miles along the coast. - The city appears to have been founded by the Um-brians. It is not mentioned in history until a late period of the Roman republic, but during the later civil wars it held a prominent position.
Augustus raised it to still greater importance by building a new port called Portus Classis, or simply Classis, capable of containing 250 ships of war, and making it the station of the fleet guarding the Adriatic. Its natural strength contributed to render it an important military post, and in A. D. 404 Honorius made it the imperial abode. On the fall of the western empire it became the capital of the Gothic kings, and it was subsequently the residence of the exarchs of the Byzantine emperors, and the whole province under their jurisdiction was called the exarchate of Ravenna. The city itself remained in the possession of the Greek emperors until taken by Luitprand, king of the Lombards, in 728, and again, after a recapture, by Astolphus, one of his successors, in 752. Luitprand destroyed the ancient port of Classis. When Pepin had conquered the Lombards he made a present of Ravenna to the pope, and with occasional interruptions it belonged to the Papal States till 1860. From 1441 to 1508 it was in the hands of the Venetians, but the league of Cambrai placed it again under the pope.
It is celebrated for the great victory gained under its walls by the French under Gaston de Foix, who fell in the action, over the Spaniards and the troops of Pope Julius II., April 11, 1512. (See Gaston de Foix).