The PINE FOREST OF SAN VITALE is a place of incredible historical and ecological value, and is part of a wider system of natural and semi-natural areas of the territory north of Ravenna.
The surface of the forest covers more than 1000 hectares and is 1200-1500 metres large, stretching for almost 11 kilometres northwards starting from the industrial/port area of Ravenna.
The natural area runs along the SS309 Romea State Road, touching the Oasis of Punte Alberete and Valle Mandriole (west) and Pialassa Baiona (east).
North of the Lamone river, the area becomes narrower (400-500 metres) and is called “Bedalassona“, ending with a arrowhead shape near the cemetery of Casalborsetti and the canal right of the Reno river.
The origin of the Pine forest
The current pine forest of San Vitale is actually a forest system in an advanced state of evolution. Its origin is owed to a large extent to an artificial plant created around the year 1000 by the monks of San Vitale based on the cultivation of stone pines (Pinus pinea). It allowed a fruitful harvest at a time when the pine forest provided essential resources (timber, grazing land and products of the forest) and guaranteed trade opportunities (timber, pine nuts).
The ancient use of the forest for the grazing of sheep, cattle and horses ensured the abbey a safe income and caused the presence of large areas clear of undergrowth, which simplified the collection of the precious pine nuts.
Since 1873, the Municipality of Ravenna has become the owner of the Pine forest of San Vitale, the Pine forest of Classe and the Pine forest of San Giovanni Evangelista (felled in 1896). The two pine forests of Ravenna have recently become part of the Regional Po Delta Park and of Rete Natura 2000.
As the forest ceased to be a driving force from an economical point of view, it progressively started to return to its original appearance, with the usual characteristics of a plan forest of the Po Valley.
Flora and fauna inside the pine forest
The Pine forest of San Vitale features a wide floral variety, with noticeable differences from the Pine forest of Classe.
The shrubs that are most present along the paths of the Pine forest of San Vitale are privets, spindles, blackthorns and common hawthorns, typical of areas with a continental climate.
The pine forest also boasts the widespread presence of barberries, a shrub that is not much common elsewhere.
Areas that are not covered by shrubs, are usually covered by brambles.
Hidden among leafy branches are also areas that get periodically flooded. These areas probably existed also in the past and featured hygrophilous vegetation. These natural elements are able to sustain – by appropriately managing water supplies – a precious and rare biodiversity, which adds to and completes the one present in the nearby wetlands (Oasis of Punte Alberete, Valle Mandriole, Bardello, Pialassa Baiona).
The current administration of the area aims to preserve the natural elements of the forest, according to the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive, to coordinate and regulate the various and permitted ways to access the area (trekkings, bike or horseback rides; for hunting of fishing purposes; firewood gathering; picking of mushrooms and other products) in compliance with the rules.
Of the various huts in the pine forest owned by the Municipality of Ravenna, Cà Vecia and Cà Nova are inhabited by forest guards that you can adress to report any sort of problem of public order.
Guided tours to the discovery of the Pine forest
For more information on the programme of guided tours, contact the NatuRa Museum – Museum of Natural Sciences “Alfredo Brandolini” of Sant’Alberto (RA).