There are 2 Sant’Apollinare churches in Ravenna. This caused us quite some confusion. The church was included on our ticket and we were keen to see it. When we asked about directions to the church we were clearly not specific enough.
We were told to take the number 4 or 44 bus which left from the station. No problem so far. We located what we thought was the bus stop and I went to buy bus tickets. The person at the bus office told me we were waiting at the wrong place and that we needed to cross the roundabout to catch the bus. We eventually found the bus stop only to see the number 4 bus arrive at the original stop. We ran across the road to be told by the driver that we couldn’t get on there, but had to go back to the other stop – another scramble across the road. When we got there the bus sailed past us. Not long after the number 44 arrived and we were successfully on our way to Sant’Apollinare – or so we thought.
We approached the ticket box at the entrance to the church to be told that our tickets were not valid. This was Sant’Apollinare in Classe not Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. We bought new tickets and were not disappointed with the interior of the church. The basilica was built in the 6th century on the burial site of Ravenna’s patron saint.
Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for the bus back to town and we fairly quickly found our way to the church we had a ticket for. Once again, the interior made the confusion seem unimportant. The basilica was originally built by the Goths in the 6th century. The high walls in the nave are covered with mosiacs depicting a procession of 26 martyrs on the right and on the other side a procession of virgins.
High up near the ceiling of the church I spotted a familiar scene. There were the 3 men we had seen in postcards all day. As it turned out they were the 3 Magi, not just 3 chaps on a postcard.