Ravenna - and Pomposa
It was a fiendishly early start, but everyone impressed by being ready, and we headed off across a very foggy lagoon down to Ravenna. On our way we stopped off at the wonderful Abbey of Pomposa, a Benedictine complex that we believe was founded in the late sixth century by monks fleeing from the Lombard invasion of Ravenna and Classis. The church is stupendous, a simple, spiritual romanesque space begun in the 7th century and finished with spectacular frescoes in the 14th century. The refectory has a fantastic fresco (and was nice and warm!)
Down to Ravenna and the fog cleared to reveal a gorgeous blue sky and glorious sunshine. We spent some time in the 5th century building designed for the Empress Galla Placidia (who actually died, and was buried in Rome), then to the staggering San Vitale, commissioned for the Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great (who actually, never visited, but sent his images, beautifully represented by wonderful mosaics)
After lunch we visited the church of San Apollinare Nuovo, commissioned by the Gothic King Theodoric, even getting our own Theo to pose in front of the remains of his palace. Finally we visited the awesome space of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe.
What a fabulous day!