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The Classe Pine Forest


The environment
The pine forests of the delta area originated artificially, with the development of the Classe harbor during the imperial period, when the Romans started to grow the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and the stone pine (Pinus pinea), whose wood was used for the naval industry.

There is information on the presence of pine forests in the Ravenna area from the 6th century A.D., but today’s pine forests are much more recent, they developed on shorelines that formed after the 12th century A.D. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire Justinian ceded them to the Archbishop Agnello, starting a long and prosperous monastic domination of the pine forests.  

The pine forests decreased considerably in size over the centuries, such decrease has been particularly drastic since the start of this century. The Classe pine forest is the intermediate part of the nuclei of the old forest, which stretched with no interruptions from the Reno river to Cervia. It is about 900 hectares and it is the second nucleus, in terms of size, after the San Vitale pine forest.

At the present the Classe pine forest has a high degree of naturality, due to the strong presence of thermophilic oak woods, mainly characterized by the holm oak (Quercus ilex), the downy oak (Quercus pubescens), the English oak (Quercus robur), the European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and the oriental hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis).
Another interesting feature is the presence of dry meadows in the clearings (mesobromion with a Mediterranean influence) and the flooded lowlands inside the wood, with different types of water, from slightly salty water to freshwater.

An important plant species is the Lythrum hissopifolia.

In the wood there is a rare species of wood chiropteran, the Bechstein’s bat. There is also the three-toed skink,  a holomediterranean species, with high concentrations in the region. The local population of Hermann’s tortoises recently became extinct, because of the large number of visitors of the forest who continuously stole individuals of this species. Also the  common spadefoot  probably became extinct, since it has not been seen for more than thirty years. An interesting species whose presence has recently been confirmed again is the three-spined stickleback.

The fauna


The fauna heritage of the Classe pine forest has lost its main characteristics in the last century.
The animal cenosis that is typical of lowland woods was deeply altered by human intervention. Many animal species disappeared, some of which in recent times: the Hermann’s tortoise, almost all daytime birds of prey (the only left is the hobby, a migratory hawk which is hardly affected by the hunting activity); some other bird species that are typical for forests, all the big mammals.

There are also many species which are potentially present but which cannot settle in the site due to anthropic causes (roe deer, sparrowhawk, woodcock, woodpigeon), and species whose population is kept well under the bearing capacity of the wood (great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker).

There is also a population of lagoon gobies, which is typical for the area, an endemic species of the salty water of the Northern Adriatic lagoons, that is present in the stagnant ponds of the pine forest.

An extremely important species, whose presence is not confirmed, is the extremely rare common spadefoot , which was seen for the last time about 20 years ago. Such species, highly represented in Italy, is limited to very few areas of the Po plain, where it is present with an endemic subspecies.

The bird component is represented by some interesting species such as the hobby and nighttime birds of prey(tawny owl, scops owl, little owl, long-eared owl), the European nightjar and a relatively large community of wood perching birds with some typically Mediterranean species.

However the most important characteristic of the wood is the presence of wood chiropterans, with some extremely important species that are highly represented at a national level, such as the Bechstein’s bat and the giant noctule bat. Other important species are the Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat and the grey-long eared bat. There is also a relatively large population of skunks and a recent population of crested porcupines.



In the Classe pine forest there is the public park “Primo Maggio” (“1st of May”) with areas for fire and tables for picnics. The public park includes “Casa delle Aie di Classe”, that is used as a service building for the park.

In the Classe pine forest there are two paths, both are signaled by the Municipality of Ravenna.

The naturalistic path called “Le Querce di Dante” (the oaks of Dante) is about four kilometers, and can be walked and cycled along. The path starts from the stopping place that is also a recreational area, inside the Park “Primo Maggio”, which is easily accessible from the main road no. 16 and where it is possible to park motorized vehicles. The path stretches along a practical dirt road that crosses the Ghiaia trench, near which there is one more parking lot, and continues to the center of the pine forest, crossing it lengthwise, reaching the Acquara drainage channel. From this point, going in the direction of the Ortazzo area and before reaching that area, visitors must continue on the stretch of road which closes the route, in a ring shape.

That stretch of road provides a complete overview of the flora and the vegetation of the pine forest, mainly characterized by stone pines (Pinus pinea) and broad-leaved trees, together with a rich brushwood which gives a high naturalistic value to the wood.

An equestrian route, called "Equestre, percorso 3" (Equestrian path no. 3) is accessible from via Sila, from the parking lot located in the most Southern part of the pine forest, near the Bevano stream. At the present the access to that route is allowed to horses only and the transit is limited and regulated by the Municipality of Ravenna.

Threat factors, anthropic impact, management interventions.

At present the presence of animals in the Classe pine forest is limited by the numerous impact factors to which the pine forest is subject.

There are two factors that hinder or considerably limit the presence of animals: first of all poaching and the hunting activity, allowed almost in the whole forest area, with a strong impact on many bird species (daytime and nighttime birds of prey, woodpeckers, woodcock and woodpigeon). In the past such factors played a key role in contributing to the extinction of many species (daytime birds of prey, ungulates, mustelids). The other factor is the widespread anthropic interference, caused by the numerous visitors of the pine forest, whose presence is concentrated in the delicate spring time (pickers of asparagus, mushrooms and truffles, Sunday tourists). Also for these activities, access is allowed to the whole area of the forest, with no limits. 

The limits that are currently applied in the Classe pine forest for anthropic activities are adequate for the pre-park area, however, in order to protect the wide and precious ecosystem of the forest, it is necessary to identify a uniform and continuous area, which should be used for conservation purposes, at least ¼ of the whole surface of the wood (about 250 hectares), limiting and regulating the presence of visitors, prohibiting the picking of products of the underwood and hunting. This area could be the area facing the adjacent Ortazzo marsh, ensuring a continuity with the marsh itself. In this way it would be possible to protect one of parts that is best preserved, with the highest concentration of biodiversity in the pine forest, in this way having an important preservation area for the salty marsh.  


In the best case, a small part (50 hectares) at the center of the previously identified area could even be used to ensure integral protection, a no-entry area with no management interventions, in order to study the natural evolution of the wood and to gain important information for the management of the remaining part of the Classe pine forest.

Finally, the forest management which in the past was carried out with criteria that were not suitable to a natural area, removing dead or dying essences and containing the underwood, might have damaged some bird species (owls, woodpeckers, perching birds) and wood chiropterans.



See text




900 ha



Owned by

Municipality of  Ravenna




Hydrogeological restriction

Outstanding natural beauty (Law 1697/39)

Site of Community Importance (Ministerial Decree no. 65 of 3/3/00)



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