Ravenna is surrounded by luxuriant and sometimes wild natural areas, which are easy to reach and explore, especially by bike.
Pine forests, lagoons, rivers, dunes, flooded forests, wetlands, birdwatching itineraries, fishing huts, protected areas rich in fauna and unique stories.
Here are some charming itineraries from which you can start your discovery.
Note: all the areas included in these itineraries are part of the Emilia-Romagna Po Delta Park.
The starting point of this itinerary is the Darsena area. From here, you continue along viale Salona, via delle Industrie, via Romea Nord and go through the Bassette industrial area.
Right after the bridge on the canals, you take a gravel path on your right, towards the dog training facility.
After the underpass, follow via degli Zingari, go beyond Idrovora Canala and get to the animal rescue centre, which marks the beginning of another stretch of gravel path.
From here, turn right and enter the luxuriant Pine forest of San Vitale.
After about two kilometres of riding northwards, you get to Ca’ Nova, which is equipped with a picnic area for a pleasant break.
Ride along the canal in Via Cerba and, after the bridge, turn right and follow the path until the fishing huts, in Italian “padelloni”.
Here, Pialassa della Baiona opens in all its charm. In front of you, a wetland of weakly brackish water and grassy dunes, a space between sea and hinterland, a unique habitat hosting very rare plants and animals, such as black-crowned night herons, squacco herons, European shags, glossy ibises and Eurasian spoonbills.
If you follow the pine forest and continue northwards, you will pass by century-old strips of land suspended between blue and green colours and get to Buca del Cavedone and then to the Fossatone.
Turn west right after the bridge and you will reach the fascinating Oratory of Madonna del Pino, a small religious building at the centre of the pine forest.
Near the next bridge turn right to reach Ca’ Vecchia, a picturesque hut hosting the headquarters of the Foresters.
Continue along via Fossatone and leave behind Ca’ Vecchia to go back on the Romea state road and follow it for a few dozen metres, until the parking area of the Oasis of Punte Alberete.
This incredible flooded forest, one of the last ones still in existence in Europe, can only be visited on foot – we recommend you park your bike and immerse yourself in an almost primordial environment.
This biotope, which is extremely important in the system of the Emilia-Romagna region’s protected areas and in the EU’s Natura 2000 Network, was saved from the last reclamation works planned for the 1960s.
Thanks to a loop trail that almost takes one hour, you can easily immerse yourself in the forest without impairing it, and admire its unique succession of hygrophilous wood, submerged grasslands and open spaces.
A mosaic of common rushes, carex, swamp lilies inhabited by water nightingales, herons, ibises and many other species make this place a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Now you can go back to Ravenna, either by following the Romea state road or passing through the pine forest, entering it near Parco 2 Giugno, going towards Circolo Ippico Ravennate, Ca’ Nova and then retracing the outward journey.
A few kilometres north of Ravenna is the hamlet of Sant’Alberto, the last bastion of Romagna before entering the area of Ferrara.
Here is the NatuRa Museum, which is the starting point of many guided tours in these areas, and also of our bike ride.
Go out of the small town and ride northwards, cross the Reno river thanks to the picturesque electric ferry boat and climb up the southern bank of the Lagoons of Comacchio.
After a few hundred metres, on your left you can see the Oasis of Boscoforte, an ancient range of dunes originated about 3000 years ago thanks to the constant activity of water, sand and wind.
Only visible with guided tours, this almost 7 km-long and almost uncontaminated peninsula hosts many different species of animals and plants, which in some cases are very rare.
Reeds, tamarisks and salt marshes with Salicornia host various species of birds, both sedentary and migratory, such as pink flamingos, common shelducks, black-winged stilts, avocets, Eurasian spoonbills and many others.
But the most unexpected and surprising encounter is the one with Camargue horses, which have been wandering wildly in this very ancient and savage environment for many years now.
The southernmost portion of the Lagoons of Comacchio, delimited by the Reno river, is part of the territory of Ravenna and features some significant sites of naturalistic and environmental interest. The Oasis of Valle Furlana and the Oasis of Volta Scirocco, for example, are two exceptional points of interest, both for the avifauna and for the vegetation that they host.
Riding along the Reno river towards the sea, you can admire an astonishing view, especially at sunrise and sunset, of the lagoons and its sandy islets dotted with sea rushes and silver poplars – the perfect habitat for swans, pink flamingos, avocets, common shelducks, little terns, western marsh harriers and black-winged stilts.
Don’t miss the brand-new trail on the bank separating Valle Furlana and Valle Lido di Magnavacca, which allows you to visit the Lagoons of Comacchio from a strongly suggestive perspective.
Ride until the Romea state road and then ride alongside it on via Bellocchio, then get onto it and ride southwards until you cross the river and then turn west.
If you follow via Corriera Antica, you reach Fattoria Guiccioli, the place where Anita Garibaldi died, and ride along Canale in Destra Reno until the small hamlet of Mandriole.
Once you pass the canal, ride until the end of via Celletta, turn left and begin a loop trail that will allow you to ride beside Valle Mandriole and Bardello.
If you follow Canale Principale eastwards, you will encounter a watchtower, from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Lagoons and of the Badalassona pine forest.
Valle Mandriole, or della Canna, originated after an extraordinary flood of the Lamone river in 1839 and is still periodically dried out and filled with water to facilitate the development of the vegetation and the aquatic life.
Among the many animal and plant species that flourish in this area are rushes, white waterlilies, common sallows, salicornia; swans, purple herons, great egrets, black-crowned night herons, little egrets, European shags and Eurasian spoonbills.
Leave the tower behind and pass under the state road along scolo Baronia, and reach Bassa del Bardello, a flooded meadow of a hundred hectares, which is special for its varied flora and populated by various animal species, among which are freshwater turtles, great crested grebes, herons and grey herons.
Water suddenly leaves room for vegetation and the itinerary continues southwards, inside the pine forest, until the Lamone river, along which you have to ride westwards until you pass the state road once again.
Finally, cover the last part of the perimeter of the lagoon, turning northwards and then eastwards until via Celletta, which takes you back to the small town of Mandriole.
From here, you can go back to Sant’Alberto by riding along the southern bank of the drainage canal (via Alfredo Poggi and then via Argini Circondari).
The perfect starting point of this excursion is Classis – Museum of the City and of the Territory, located in the small town of Classe, just outside of the city, which you can easily reach by train (and carrying your bike) from the historical centre.
Riding along via G. Morgagni, you will get to a cycle and pedestrian path that runs along the railway, passes under via Classicana and continues through the fields until the crossroads with via della Sacca, where you can find one of the entrances to the charming Pine forest of Classe.
Today owned by the Municipality of Ravenna, this pine forest has been protected and preserved for more than a thousand years by the Camaldolese monks who stationed at the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe.
This green haven of peace, equipped with various rest areas and observation points, hosts century-old plants such as holm oaks, downy oaks and common hornbeams, as well as a rich undergrowth that often yields products used in traditional recipes, such as asparagus, privets, blackthorns, sorb trees and medlars.
Ride southwards through the pine forest, cross a small bridge, continue westwards for a short way and you will reach Parco 1° Maggio.
Equipped with services, fire areas, lunch tables and a large meadow, this park has always been a legendary place for unforgettable picnics and days spent outdoors.
A starting point of various itineraries in nature, it hosts fairs and festivals at various times of the year, such as the festival of the Pine forest Truffle and the Festival of Pine nuts.
Riding out of the park, heading south-east, you reach Ponte delle Botole, allowing you to cross the trench and continue towards Cervia.
After some kilometres, the pine forest suddenly opens up and reveals the beauties of the lagoon of Ortazzo and the wetland of Ortazzino.
Ortazzo is a large marsh featuring ponds, rushes, stretches of pine forest and Mediterranean vegetation, a brackish area which is constantly influenced by the salt beds and the floods of the Bevano and Fosso Ghiaia rivers.
South of this area is Ortazzino, an area contiguous to the beach made up of a system of ponds behind the dunes, rushes, and a vegetation including Mediterranean scrub and shrubs typical of continental areas.
From one of the watchtowers dedicated to birdwatching, it is possible to admire flamingos, herons, black-winged stilts, terns and Mediterranean gulls. Going south, the typical fishing huts dot the canal and create an unmistakable landscape.
Riding back on the trail that brought you here, you encounter a small wooden bike and pedestrian bridge, behind which begins the northern bank of the Fosso Ghiaia river.
Continue eastwards, pass by another watchtower and you will have access to the protected area of the river mouth.
Among the many magical places of the coastline of Ravenna, the mouth of the Bevano river is probably the most incredible one.
Developed around the meanders of the estuary – some of which are fossilized – it has survived almost intact to this day, and is protected with limited access. From the end of winter to mid-summer, it is the exclusive space of the species that come here to breed, and of plants, that can thus grow wild and undisturbed.
Generally, from mid-July it is possible to access the area, which features woods, still untouched sand dunes, marsh environments, sandbars, brackish basins and sea environments inhabited by organisms of scientific interest.
From the watchtower, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the coast as it probably appeared thousands of years ago.