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Ortazzo, Ortazzino, Bevano Creek Estuary, United Rivers Estuary, Coastal dunes – Lido di Dante – Lido di Classe, Ramazzoti and Savio coastal pine grove 

Environment

A coastal site with elevated environmental diversity, positioned around the Bevano Creek estuary, the last meandering inlet of the High Adriatic free to evolve naturally: the Bevano inlet is an important area of about 40 hectares that testifies—with its natural estuary, coastal dunes and dunal lagoons—to what the entire regional coastal zone must have been like prior to massive human intervention.  

The area to the west of the estuary is known as Ortazzino and includes the former meanders of the Bevano, part of the coastal dunes and the brackish wetland meadows behind them: here subterranean streams surface and arid grasslands with natural thermophile shrubbery bloom, dominated by junipers (Juniperus communis) and common sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides).  Almost all types of Northern Adriatic halophile vegetation are present in this complex of wetlands and dunes, t, from annual and perennial salicornia, to cordgrass and maritime reed beds, to alkali grass.

Included in the site are five kilometers of intact, active coastal dunes extending northward to the United Rivers estuary, an inlet with small brackish ponds, and towards the south.  Located behind the dunes are the Ramazzoti and Savio sections of the state-owned Pinete, or pine groves, created for the purpose of protecting cropland from sea winds.  The groves are rooted in the most-recently deposited coastal sandbars.  Ravenna’s state-owned pine groves date back to 1881, when the Forest Service received 117 hectares of land from the Merchant Navy Branch to be reforested with Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster).  These artificial groves overlay the original shrubby vegetation—typical of consolidated dunes—which continues to dominate marginal zones and undergrowth.

Ortazzo is an ancient freshwater valley, dammed in and obtained from the reconversion of paddy fields.  The Ortazzo is subject to brackish inflows from the aquifer, as the presence of maritime reed beds and alkali grass testifies, and can be characterized as an expansive coastal pond.  The basins with lower water levels dry up in summer, giving rise to muddy stretches of land where the annual halophile communities typical of these settings take root.   A peninsula with Pinus pinea groves crosses the swampland.   To the south of Ortazzo Valley are newly-restored grassy wetlands flooded with fresh water. 

The Ortazzo counts among the least-touched coastal sites, enjoying the greatest biodiversity.  In it one finds still intact the natural succession from sea to inland, free of beach settlements and other human interference. 

Among the vegetable species of note are Bassia hirsuta, Erianthus ravennae, Plantago cornuti, Spartina maritima and Trachomitum venetum

 

The Three-toed Skink, a species spanning the Mediterranean, is an interesting presence in the region.  The site is also quite crucial to the migration and wintering of aquatic birds and diurnal birds of prey (Hen Harriers and Greater Spotted Eagles in particular), as well as the breeding of Charadriiformes (Black-winged Stilts, Pied Avocets, Gull-billed Terns, Little Terns and Common Terns).  The Adriatic dwarf goby and Canestrini’s goby (to be confirmed) also represent notable populations.  Finally, we note the presence of Scarabaeus semipunctatus and Cicindela majalis on the natural beaches.   

Fauna

The great naturalistic value of this site resides in the natural succession of habitats from the sea to the inland marshes, with active and consolidated dunes (upon which maritime pine groves have been planted), a meandering estuary that is freely and naturally evolving, lowlands positioned behind the dunes and a brackish swamp.  This great environmental diversity leads to a notable diversity of fauna. 

In the swamps of Ortazzo and the lowlands and grassy wetlands of the Ortazzino, areas in which environmental quality is linked to tranquility, fauna communities of great value are to be found.  In particular, the extremely varied community of nesting Charadriiformes—with Eurasian Oystercatchers (whose nesting has not been confirmed), Black-winged Stilts, Pied Avocets, Kentish Plovers, Common Redshanks, Slender-billed Gulls, Gulf-billed Terns, Little Terns and Common Terns—assumes great conservationist import.  During expansionary phases, the Common Shelduck, Garganey and Eurasian Teal are also known to occasionally nest here.  A contained Little Egret nesting site, which appeared four years ago in the Ortazzo pine groves, testifies to the southward expansion of the Delta colonies.  The rare Lesser Grey Shrike occasionally nests in the hedges of the Ortazzino.  Mammals with a prominent presence include Daubenton’s bat, bats localized in the region, crested porcupines (a recent appearance) and skunks. 

In contrast, the system of natural dunes—about 5 kilometers long—displays a fauna far below its potentialities due to excessive disturbances provoked by numerous bathers occupying the beaches and dunes.  Only the Kentish Plover has built up a sizeable population, whereas other potential species (the Eurasian Oystercatcher, Little Tern and Common Tern) have deserted the area, unable to tolerate such an elevated and invasive human presence on the water’s edge and, in general, among dune vegetation.  One nesting Passerine, the Tawny Pipit, has been sighted in the more tranquil areas of the dunes and in the meadows of Ortazzino.

Coastal pine groves are also scarce, especially where the artificially planted forest is too dense, and therefore lacking in light and bushy undergrowth. 

To visit

The “Dunes and Pine Groves” trail departs from the Lido di Dante and follows an interesting itinerary to the Bevano Creek estuary, passing through the Rammazzoti pine grove flanking the coast, or along a path that runs parallel to the coastal sandbar and is tangential to the pine grove.  The nature trail, easily traversable on foot or by bicycle, allows visitors to observe the dunes and their vegetation, the Pinus pinaster pine groves and rich undergrowth.  The trail arrives at the Bevano estuary, the only example along the entire Emilia Romagna coast of a spontaneously, naturally evolving inlet.  

Upon arriving at the estuary, one sights a village of huts almost entirely constructed of brick, a destination for summer beach tourism and an ample parking area, the point of arrival for visitors who choose to reach the coast from Via della Sacca.  The trail then continues along Via della Sacca, entering into the Classe Pine Grove.

This trail certainly offers unparalleled fascination from the point of view of nature and landscaping, crossing environments in an almost completely wild state—the dunes and beaches in particular.  It allows visitors to observe the Bevano Creek estuary, still following its natural course.  Along Via della Sacca, from the banks of the Fosso Ghiaia, one can observe from afar the splendid panorama of the Ortazzo and Ortazzino wetlands.

 

Typology See text
Cartography  
Extension 1050 ha
Municipality  
Property State Property—Lido di Classe Development Company
Management  

 

Obligations

Hydrogeological obligations

Natural beauty (L. 1497/39)

Special Protection Zone (D.M. n. 65 of 3/3/00)

Site of Community Importance (D.M. n. 65 of 3/3/00)

Ramsar Zone (D.M. 13/7/81)

“Ravenna Pine Grove” Natural Reserve (D.M. 13/7/77)

“Ravenna coastal dune and Bevano Creek estuary” Natural Reserve (D.M. 5/6/79)

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