The large but relatively quiet Italian town of Ravenna is a charming combination of historical, cultural, and culinary delights.

Situated just a few miles from the waters of the Adriatic Sea and the fertile land of the Po River Basin, Ravenna yields freshly caught seafood plus outstanding homegrown fruits and vegetables. Plan to visit this enchanting city with friends and family since the amazing food and fabulous wine is best enjoyed over good company.

Ravenna is known for incorporating several high-quality and locally made products of extra virgin olive oil, chestnuts, and squacquerone cheese into the everyday cuisine. The trees of the Emilia Romagna region are known for their chestnut offerings each fall, and locals enjoy the chestnuts in a variety of ways including as a standalone snack, used in desserts, or even sometimes made into flour. Squacquerone cheese is a delicate variety that is creamy and often used as a spread for breads or as a filling for some pastas.


Appetizers in Ravenna typically consist of savory cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, or squacquerone. The cheeses can be accompanied by meats, usually Prosciutto di Parma, salame, or coppa. It is not uncommon for appetizers to also include olives, bread, or other small bites for snacking.


One popular first course in Ravenna is tortellacci. This homemade pasta is a much larger version of tortellini that can be enjoyed throughout the Emilia-Romagna region. In Ravenna the pasta is frequently filled with a variety of savory herbs, cooked, and then served with a garnish of mascarpone and pine nuts.

Tortellaci di Ortica is a popular fish and pasta dish of the city. This homemade triangular shaped pasta is usually stuffed with locally made cheese and is often served with tomatoes and fish for added heartiness and flavor.

Cappelletti Romagna is another pasta dish also similar to tortellini. However, in Ravenna, this homemade pasta is stuffed primarily with cheeses such as Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano. The characteristic shape of cappelletti, which resembles a hat, is made by folding pasta dough around the filling and turning the tips inward to form a ring shape. The traditional method of serving cappelletti in Ravenna is with broth.

Other popular pasta shapes in Ravenna include handmade fresh tagliatelle (which can also be made with the addition of spinach, resulting in a green dough), strozzapreti (thick and cylindrical handmade pasta), and passatelli (long strips of pasta made from breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, eggs, and served in broth).

A hearty and warm bowl of Italian minestrone soup can be a delightful way to warm up in colder weather. The soup is usually made with a combination of a variety of colorful vegetables such as carrots, onions, and celery that marinate together in a soup pot with beans, fresh herbs, sometimes pasta, and a hearty broth. The secret ingredient in Ravenna minestrone is the truffles added at the end, which enhance the flavors of this already delicious soup.

If you like soup, take your taste buds on a new adventure and sample a local favorite, frog soup. The city of Ravenna is particularly well known for this unusual delicacy.


Ravenna offers a wide variety of meat and fish-based dishes that are popular for the second course. Although Ravenna no longer sits directly on the waters of the Adriatic Sea, fresh seafood is still very easily attainable. Popular seafood fare often includes shellfish, scallops, fish, and croquettes of fish or lobster.

Of particular note is the saraghina, a small oily fish that is prevalent in the Mediterranean and often present on dinner plates in the Romagna area. The traditional preparation is to bread the fish and then grill it. Saraghina may be served as a second course dish or it can accompany pasta during the first course. It may also be used as a filling for the local piadina flatbread.

Meat in the area is primarily pork based, although others are still enjoyed here. One of the more traditional meats of Ravenna is cotechino, a locally made Italian sausage. Cotechino is a large sausage made from a variety of ground pork cuts that is usually slow cooked over a period of several hours. The sausage typically consists of pork meat and a variety of salts and spices for flavoring.

Throughout Italy, the sausage is often served with lentils for a traditional New Year’s Eve dish, as the lentils are said to bring good financial fortune for the coming year.


Fresh and in-season ingredients grown locally take center stage when it comes to side dishes in Italy. In Ravenna, that means travelers can expect beans, radicchio, black-eyed peas, and shallots.


The characteristic street food of the Romagna area is the humble, yet delicious piadina. A locally made flatbread, the piadina’s ingredients include flour, lard, water, and salt. In Romagna, the consistency and thickness of the bread can vary from city to city. Piadine in Ravenna are on the thicker side compared to those from other parts of the region. They are traditionally served folded and stuffed with various combinations of vegetables, cheese, and cured meats and enjoyed like a sandwich. In Ravenna, the traditional filling includes Prosciutto di Parma, arugula, and squacquerone cheese.


The traditional Italian dessert of zuppa inglese is said to have been created when a diplomat visiting Italy requested a trifle. According to legend, the ingredients needed to make a trifle could not be found, so thanks to creative chefs, zuppa inglese was born. This dessert can have several different variations depending on the region where it is made. In Ravenna, it most commonly is a combination of sweet local cookies called ciambelle romagnole and creamy custard with a splash of liqueur.

The name of Romagna’s local cookies, ciambelle, translates to doughnuts. However, as opposed to traditional doughnuts, ciambelle romagnole do not have a hole and are known for their drier texture. These cookies have an oval shape that is reminiscent of a piece of bread, and are topped with sugar.

Nougat semifreddo is a type of semi-frozen custard with a firm texture that is made with the salty sweet mixture of sugar, honey, and some type of tree nut. The dessert can be made in a variety of shapes resembling everything from ice cream scoops to a rectangular block shape. Locals enjoy this sweet treat even more when it is topped with chocolate sauce.

Ravenna is also known for its unique cookies called caterine, which are made each year in honor of the Feast Day of Saint Catherine of Alexandria on November 25. Traditionally shaped like a doll or rooster, the cookies are covered with chocolate and decorated with glaze and colorful candies.


The plains of the Po River Basin between the cities of Ferrara and Ravenna are quite fertile and perfect for growing fruits, vegetables, and grape vines. This is where the Albana and Trebbiano grapes often grow.

Albana di Romagna is a locally made white wine sourced primarily from the Albana grape. The wine is considered to be light bodied and a little bit on the sweeter side, with undertones of peach and almond flavor. Although Albana di Romagna would probably go beautifully with any dish, it pairs the best with fruit and desserts. Locals may also dip ciambelle romagnole in a glass of Albana wine.

Trebbiano Romagnolo is a white wine derived from the Trebbiano grape. This wine, depending on the grape blend, can be rich or light. In some dining establishments in Ravenna, it is served as a light sparkling wine.

Located in the Emilia-Romagna region, which is revered worldwide for its culinary tradition, it comes as no surprise that Ravenna is the home of excellent local food and wine. After a day of taking in the beautiful Byzantine mosaics, sit down for a nice dinner featuring squacquerone cheese, fresh caught seafood, and locally produced wine.

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