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Official Tourist Information Site
Municipality of Ravenna

The Pine Forest of Classe

Via Fosso Ghiaia - Classe
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Following the footsteps of the Supreme Poet doesn’t just mean walking across the city centre of Ravenna, where he lived, worked, met friends and scholars, but it also means moving away from the city.

Not far away, you will find a wholly different environment, a natural and wild area that the poet himself cherished.

Stretching south of the well-known Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, the PINE FOREST OF CLASSE is a very suggestive place that preserves a timeless fauna and evokes an unspoilt atmosphere, which enticed the Poet to take long walks across the coastal pine forest.

Landscapes, colours, patches of light and shade, were undoubtedly precious sources of inspiration for an artist in search of impressions and imagery. As a matter of face they proved to be useful material for recreating, in writing, the many descriptions that form the backdrop to the encounters in the Divine Comedy.

In Canto XXVIII of Purgatorio (vv. 1 – 21), Dante writes of the Pine Forest of Classe. On the last day of their mystical journey, the poet and Virgil enter this enchanting forest of Earthly Paradise —as the poet himself writes.

It is a welcoming forest of great beauty, in deep contrast with the dark forest describer in the first canto of Inferno. The air is fresh and light, rich in scents, with a pleasant breeze and birds chirping in perfect harmony.

Crossing the wood, Dante arrives at a river, where a very beautiful woman is walking. There she is, Matelda, singing and gathering flowers.

Now keen to search within, to search around
that forest – dense, alive with green, divine –
which tempered the new day before my eyes,

Compared to the other woods or forests depicted in literature, the Pine Forest of Classe is maybe the one with the greatest artistic and literary impact; the many quotations by famous poets and writers, written to pay homage to Dante Alighieri, are proof of this.

Giovanni Boccaccio, for instance, set the novella of Nastagio degli Onesti of the Decameron (day V, novella 8) right in this pine forest. Botticelli, on the other hand, portrayed the magic of this forest when painting Boccaccio’s novella.

Poet John Dryden made the Pine Forest of Classe known abroad; Lord Byron galloped through it during his stay in Ravenna; later, the many artists on the Grand Tour and many other scholars, over the centuries, stopped in this enchanted place to pay homage to the Supreme Poet.

Giovanni Pascoli even attempted an impossible feat in his poem L’eroe italico (The Italian Hero), bringing Dante and Garibaldi together.

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Dante’s oaks

To remember the long walks that the Supreme Poet surely had within the Pine forest, it is still possible to follow a route completely immersed in an unspoiled natural environment.

You can follow this loop trail, known as LE QUERCE DI DANTE (Dante’s oaks), on foot or by bike.

It starts from Parco I maggio and winds within the pine forest for about 4 kilometres. Along the route, it is possible to see a large oak forest, surrounded by tall stone pines, recognisable thanks to their characteristic umbrella-shaped crown.

The drier areas host holm oaks (Quercus ilex), while the wetter ones English oaks (Quercus robur), which apparently helped Dante to find his way around during his walks.

And it was also the same green area that inspired the Supreme Poet for the writing of some verses of his Divine Comedy.

It is possible to reach the trail from Ravenna by driving along Strada Provinciale 16 Adriatica towards Rimini. You have to drive along via Fosso Ghiaia towards Parco I maggio. The Ponte delle Botole bridge is the starting point of many trails, among which this one.

Further information

Opening times

WINTER/SPRING from the second Sunday of October to the second Sunday of May (included)
7.30 am – 5 pm (solar time), 7.30 am – 7 pm (summer time)

SUMMER 
From the second Sunday of May to the second Sunday of October (excluded): 7.30am-7pm

Entrance fee

Access to the pine forest is free.

Accessibility

The pine forest — or at least some parts of it — are not entirely accessible to people with physical disabilities.

How to get there

The Pine Forest of Classe is located east of the SS 16 (Statale Adriatica 16) state road, enclosed within the towns of Classe, Fosso Ghiaia and Savio.

By car: you can reach the entrance of the pine forest of Classe through two different access points along the SS 16 state road.
The first one is located in the centre of Fosso Ghiaia. From here, you can get to Parco I maggio (equipped with barbecue sites and picnic areas), the hunting hut Casa delle Aie in Classe, and then the Ponte delle Botole bridge, from which many itineraries start. One of them is the loop trail called “Le Querce di Dante” (lit. Dante’s oaks). The second one is located in Via Sila, on the southern border of the town of Fosso Ghiaia, leading to Casa delle Bufale – starting point of the horse path.

There are also two other access points along via della Sacca, the road leading to the mouth of the Bevano river. The first one is located just beyond the level crossing, the second one on the banks of the Fosso Ghiaia canal.

By bike: the pine forest can be easily reached also by bike from Ravenna, taking the trail that departs from behind the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe and flanks the Ravenna/Rimini railway line.

A cura della Redazione Locale
E-mail: turismo@comune.ravenna.it

Last edit:3 March 2022

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