What is now a landlocked suburb surrounded by pine groves about 6km (3 3/4 miles) south of the city was at one time the port of the capital of the Western empire. This huge 6th-century church—dedicated to St. Apollinare, the first bishop and patron of Ravenna, and filled with glittering mosaics—befits the city’s onetime importance. Apollinare allegedly landed in Ravenna sometime in the 2nd century and converted the locals. In a dazzling array of brilliantly hued mosaics, he is shown in prayer, surrounded by lambs (his flock) against a gentle background of rocks, birds, and plants, including the pines that still grow outside the church (and where Lord Byron used to ride with his Ravennese mistress, Teresa Guiccioli). Above Apollinaire is a depiction of the Transfiguration, when Christ became radiant and began shining with bright rays of light; he is represented as a golden cross on a starry blue background and Peter, James, and John, the three disciples who were present at the event, are shown as lambs. Some especially touching mosaics on the right of the church shows three Old Testament figures who made sacrifices to God: Abel, Melchizedek, and Abraham.
- Frommer's Staff