Classe: the imposing Basilica of Sant'Apollinare within the green lung of Ravenna
Classe is a district of Ravenna that took shape from the 6th century around one of the most important monuments in Emilia-Romagna, the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare.
Located just five kilometres south of the Romagna capital, this small town is not only home to the imposing UNESCO World Heritage monument, but is also the gateway to one of Ravenna's oldest and most important green lungs, the Classe Pinewoods, which forms part of the Po Delta Park.
While the present settlement is linked to the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare, the history of Classe originates much earlier. It was in 27 B.C. when the Emperor Augustus chose this very area for the construction of a military port capable of accommodating a fleet of 250 warships tasked with guarding the eastern part of the Mediterranean.
Today, what remains of the ancient port of Civitas Classis, the name of the first settlement, embellishes the area leading from Ravenna to Classe and can be visited independently by following the illustrated route starting from the junction between Via Romea Sud and Via Marabina or by taking advantage of the guided tours available upon reservation.
Three wonders with just one ticket: the Classe Archaeological Park
The Antico Porto, also accessible by bicycle or scooter from Ravenna city centre, is part of the larger Classe Archaeological Park, which includes a compulsory visit to Sant'Apollinare Basilica and the Classis Ravenna, the Museum of the City and Territory.
You can visit all three sites in one day, taking advantage of the €11 combination ticket, with reductions available down to €5.
Once you visited the port, you can go to the other two sites, located 400 metres apart. The Basilica is the one that will take you the longest, so pay attention to the times: closing time is 7.30pm., but the last entry is possible until 7pm.
Start at the main entrance and allow yourself to be enchanted by the majestic mosaics created from the 6th century onwards, from those adorning the apsidal basin and triumphal arch to those embellishing the sides of the apse.
Once when you are sure to have truly appreciated this masterpiece you can move to Classis for a plunge into the history of Ravenna and its territory, following the great Time Line that will mark your visit. You will find interesting insights into the Classe fleet and navigation, objects from everyday life over the centuries, and statues and mosaics that will leave you speechless.
A tour of the pine forest among oases and old trees
A visit to Classe cannot end without a few hours in the centuries-old pine forest: 900 hectares of unspoilt nature to be discovered on foot or by bicycle following itineraries leading to the most precious areas such as the Ortazzo and Ortazzino oases, the mouth of the Bevano river or the green area where the 18th-century Casa delle Aie stands.
And don't forget that Ravenna's southern beaches and Mirabilandia area are just a stone's throw away, well connected by bicycle paths or bus services.