Spend a day in Romagna’s “green lungs”, two lovely pine forests with delicate ecosystems.
The first inspired Dante Alighieri’s description of the enchanting Garden of Eden, where Virgil goes during the final days of their mystic journey. It’s called the Pineta di Classe pine grove, which in the writer’s time extended countless kilometres to the north and south of Ravenna.
The second is called Pineta di Cervia pine grove, inside Emilia-Romagna’s Po Delta Park. Take some time surrounded by greenery amidst paths, glades and ancient trees, enjoying the scent of pines tinged with sea air.
Your itinerary begins with an exploration of the Pineta di Classe, on the lookout for Dante’s Oaks. Set out on foot or bike from Ravenna’s Parco I Maggio, the umbrella shape of the tall stone pines easily visible against the skyline.
The ring route covers 4 km, entering the pine forest from Ponte delle Botole bridge. The entire area is characterised by typical Mediterranean vegetation and speckled both with dry glades and lowlands flooded with sweet and salt water. Inside this oasis near the shores of the Adriatic Sea, you can’t help but notice a huge oak.
In the dry areas you’ll find holly oaks, whilst English oaks populate the moister areas. This patch of greenery inspired Dante when he was writing The Divine Comedy.
Dante’s Oaks are not the only things to discover inside the Pineta di Classe. You can reach the Pineta dell’Ortazzino pine grove close to Lido di Classe seaside resort, and the Pineta dell'Ortazzo pine grove, which stands at the mouth of the Bevano River.
These two coastal areas are the richest in plant and animal biodiversity in all of Emilia-Romagna. The whole area is fundamental for diurnal birds of prey and aquatic birds’ migration and wintering.
The second part of your itinerary dedicated to Romagna’s pine forests takes you to Pineta di Cervia pine grove and its dense network of trails. Inside you’ll find a route equipped with illustrative panels explaining the history and characteristics of this highly variegated ecosystem, as well as running routes with fitness equipment for taking some outdoor exercise.
Here too, the greenery alternates with sandy glades, dunes and wetlands full of the high grass, rushes and reeds typical of Ravenna. Although the species of flowers were more numerous in the past, today a few species of wild orchids can still be found.
Interesting fact: You might be wondering how the pines managed to root themselves in such sterile sandy ground. Even now nobody knows who first planted them here, though one likely theory is that the Romans did, wanting to use the wood for shipbuilding.
Your green day near the seashore is sure to put a smile on your face. Just keep in mind that such a precious ecosystem deserves the utmost care and respect!