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Walking and Biking



In the Pineta di Classe outside Ravenna

Eight walks inspired by The Divine Comedy

At this point the poet has finished climbing the mountain of Purgatory and has reached the threshold of earthly Paradise in the forest of Eden. This forest instils in him the same simple tranquillity Dante himself had experienced during his exile, when he used to walk through the extensive pine woods surrounding Ravenna. In fact, according to Sapegno, "the description of the wood, whose trees are ruffled by a light constant breeze, delighted by the flight and song of birds, through which a clear-water stream flows between flowery banks […] is based […] on memories of a real landscape, the Pineta di Classe near Ravenna".

Un'aura dolce, sanza mutamento
avere in sè, mi fería per la fronte
non di più colpo che soave vento;
per cui le fronde, tremolando, pronte
tutte quante piegavano a la parte
u' la prim'ombra gitta il santo monte;
non per dal loro esser dritto sparte
tanto, che li augelletti per le cime
lasciasser d'operare ogne lor arte;
ma con piena letizia l'ore prime,
cantando, ricevíeno intra le foglie,
che tenevan bordone a le sue rime,
tal qual di ramo in ramo si raccoglie
per la pineta in su 'l lito di Chiassi,
quand'Eolo Scilocco fuor discioglie.

A balmy breeze, that never ceas'd to blow,
Unchang'd in nature, with a feeler, light
As softest zephyr, touched me on my brow.
The branches, by the gentle airy weight
Mov'd out of place, wav'd trembling to the West,
Where first the shade falls from the Mountain's height;
Yet, were they not from straight so far deprest,
But that the little birds still freely play'd
Their varied parts upon the verdant crest;
They, from within their secret sheltering shade,
Hail'd the glad matin prime with all their glee,
While with their song the leaves sweet music made:
As in the pine-wood breathes from tree to tree
The gentle murmur on Chiassi's shore
When Æolus Sirocco's chain sets free.

(Purgatorio, Canto XXVIII, 16/21)

Today's pine wood isn't so lush and extensive as it was in Dante's time, but all the same the mystical natural landscape of what remains of this large wood still induces the same sense of peace and quiet that undoubtedly inspired Dante's poetry. Today's pine wood, together with the nearby forest of S. Vitale, covers a "mere" 2,041 hectares and is one of the last remnants of the ancient forests which once covered the Ravenna coastline. This botanical heritage is such that it was included in the protected zone of the Parco Regionale del Delta del Po. The necessary steps are being taken to transform it - quite rightly - into a National Park. The Pineta is criss-crossed by numerous tracks and paths that make for easy but interesting walks suitable for everyone.

Starting from the Warden's House, don't go into the pine wood but go left along the main unpaved road that begins to curve round the northern part of the wood. Walking along beside the Fosso Vecchio, don't leave the wide unsurfaced road, which affords a wide view of the pine wood and the cultivated fields stretching down to the sea. Walking along by the pine wood, ignore, at a right-hand bend, an equal-sized unsurfaced road that goes into the cultivated plain. After a few minutes you come to a track on the right, blocked by a bar, which leads into the pine wood. Take this track, which goes into the wood and along the Fosso Ghiaia until you reach the Ponte delle Botole. Cross the bridge and curve immediately to the left along an unsurfaced track that sticks to the right-hand side of the Fosso Ghiaia. After about 500 metres (and ignoring a number of tracks to the right blocked by bars), leave the main track and get onto a cart-track to the right which is also blocked by a bar. From here onwards just stick to the straight track, ignoring all the tracks leading off it. This takes you through the southern part of the pine wood and brings you to the banks of the Scolo Acquara. Go right here and walk along the bank till you come to a large farm building. Here you come down from the bank, curve right and pass in front of the building on the main track that arrives there. When you come to a wooden gate, go through it and immediately afterwards, at a junction, go straight on till you come once again to the Ponte delle Botole. When you've crossed the bridge, you've got two alternatives: if you want to stop, perhaps for a picnic, keep on along the main track which bends to the left and soon comes to the picnic area (with tables) of the Parco Primo Maggio. Alternatively, carry straight on along the unpaved road (closed by a bar), which crosses the northern part of the pine wood and takes you back (go straight on at every junction) to the Warden's House.

Time required 3 hours, 30 minutes
Vertical height 0 m
Maps   I.G.M.I. 1:50.000, no. 240 "Forlí"
How to get there You reach the pine wood of Classe from Ravenna by following signs for the Lidi Sud, leaving the city through the Porta Nuova or Pamphilia. Go through Classe (here you can visit the archaeological site of what was once an important Roman settlement) and continue along the state road towards Rimini. You soon come to a wide unpaved road on the left sign-posted for Foce Bevano. Take this road, which crosses the railway line at a level-crossing, and soon after this you reach the warden's house where you can park.


Text and picture: Cinzia Pezzani & Sergio Grillo
Translation: Jeremy Carden

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