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Coastal zone characteristics

Emilia-Romagna coast

The coast of Emilia-Romagna is an almost sandy beach, along its entire length of around
135 km (108 km are bathing  areas). The beach is from few meters to over 200 m wide. The coast is low and sandy, stretching from the mouth of the Tavollo torrent (between Cattolica and Gabicce) in the south to the mouth of the river Po di Goro river in the north.Behind the coastline, especially in the north, there are vast reclaimed lands, below sea level. These areas are wide wetlands, with an important environmental relevance. Here lays the Regional Po Delta Park and the State natural reserve “Duna costiera ravennate e foce torrente Bevano”.They are dynamic environments, whose equilibrium depends on the interaction of many factors:

•variations in sea level;

•weather and sea conditions;

•sediment transport from rivers;

•subsidence and human activities.

The equilibrium of this environment is now damaged by the intensive land use and by the conjunction of artificial interventions and natural events. The widespread urbanization, the intensive agriculture development, the decrease in the sediment transport from rivers, the presence of coastal works (wharfs, breakwaters, groynes) and the increase of subsidence have strongly increased the vulnerability of the coast of Emilia-Romagna. The coast is now subject to widespread erosion problems.

The beach is the result of the interaction between sand transport from rivers and the action of waves and tidal currents that redistribute sediments along the coastline. Human activities impacted on a delicate natural equilibrium: buildings, tourist structures and beach facilities, harbours, wharfs and protection structures (groynes and breakwaters) stiffened the evolution of the coastline. It is therefore clear that the coastal protection is a priority in territory defense strategies of Emilia-Romagna.

The northern part of the coast of Emilia-Romagna is characterized by a typically plain structure, with the transition to the east between continental and marine environment and the presence of the delta of the Po river.The typical environment of the coast, presenting beaches and dunes, was significantly changed by agriculture activities first, by the development of tourism then and finally by urban sprawl. These changes levelled sand dunes and cemented long stretches of beach.

The coast in the municipality of Goro is around 19 km long. Only 7 km are bathing areas, while the other 12 km are part of the Sacca di Goro, used mainly for shellfish breeding and therefore permanently banned for bathing activities.

Major tributaries of the Sacca di Goro are Po di Volano (which originates upstream of the city of Ferrara from Burana canal, the Giralda canal and the Canal Bianco.

The coast in the municipality of Comacchio strands for 23,5 km. 2,2 km are permanently banned for bathing activities, for the presence of the Sacca di Goro and of the canal harbour of Porto Garibaldi. On the whole coast, the size of the sand on the beach and in the seabed up to -2 m remain fairly constant. In the seabed between the Po Delta and Lido di Pomposa we find the smaller average size at a depth of over 2 m; these seabeds, in fact, collect the fine material, mostly muddy, led by the Po Delta.From Porto Garibaldi to Lido di Spina, the influence of the Po is much less, and the average diameter of the sand remains at relatively high values. The only water courses flowing into the sea in the bathing tract of municipality of Comacchio are Porto Garibaldi canal harbour and Logonovo canal. The mouth of the latter is periodically obstructed by sand because of severe storm events.

Almost the whole coast of these two municipalities is part of the "Po Delta Park". The park covers 53.653 hectares, including also the municipalities territories of Ravenna, Alfonsine and Cervia, and is considered one of the richest areas of biodiversity.

The coast in the municipality of Ravenna is around 38 km long. 28 km are monitored for bathing activities, while 10 km are permanently banned areas: 3,3 km are river mouths (Bellocchio Canal, Destra Reno canal and the rivers Bevano, Lamone, Savio and Fiumi Uniti), 1,2 km are the canal harbour of Ravenna, while 5,2 km are used as shooting range by the Italian Navy, near the mouth of the Reno river. In this portion of the coastal territory, breakwaters barriers are present only at the sides of the mouth of the river Savio, for an extension of about 1 km to the north and 2 km to the south.

The coast in the municipality of Cervia is 9 km long, almost entirely monitored for bathing activities. Only 233 m are permanently banned as river mouths (Cupa canal, 22m) or canal harbours (canal harbour of Cervia, 211m).

Most part of the coastline of the last two municipalities, whose hinterland has mainly an agricultural target, is part of the "Po Delta park". There are broad, long strips of pine woods, with full or partial protection, or in a context of residential and touristic urbanization, with a significantly low settlement density. There are several  protected areas, such as the habitat of Punta Alberete, Valle Mandriole, the coastal lagoons Piallasse, other  pine woods and environmental protection wetlands (Bardello, Ortazzo and Ortazzino) and the saltwoks of Cervia.

A stretch about 2 km long around the mouth of Bevano torrent is part of the "Pineta di Classe and Saline di Cervia" station. Access and bathing are permanently prohibited, because it is an integral natural conservation area. For the same reason, in two stretches of 1.5 km each, north and south of this, access and bathing are permitted only after July 15.

The southern part of the regional coastline has the typical configuration of a heavily man. There are several natural and anthropogenic processes at basin scale and on a local scale, affecting the southern coastline of the region, making it vulnerable. The causes of vulnerability common to the entire regional coastal territory, such as the low depth of the sea bed and the limited circulation of the Adriatic, the influence of the River Po contributions and the quantity and quality of local riverine inputs, are added, to an extent more pronounced than in the north, the anthropogenic pressures related to intense urbanization and the tourist exploitation of the territory.

At present this part of the coastline is characterized by many human buildings, such as piers, harbours and artificial reefs. All these manufactures were built to face the social and economic development and later to protect the beach from erosion. These manufactures, together with a rapid urbanization and the growing use of internal water led to deep changes in the marine-coastal depositional system.

In some areas erosion factors were stabilized, while in other areas they are still a problem to manage.

In the sea area that stretches from the pier south of the harbor of Cesenatico to the pier north of Rimini canal port (including the municipalities of Savignano sul Rubicone, Gatteo, S. P. Mauro, Bellaria Igea Marina, Rimini) breakwaters barriers are positioned in a direction parallel to the coast. The cliffs are absent in Rimini beach, south of the port channel. Limited to the stretch of sea off the coast of the town of Riccione, near the border with Misano Adriatico, anti-erosion barriers are located in a submerged position. The cliffs reappear later emerged in the sea off the coast of Misano Adriatico, in a direction perpendicular to the coastline, and Cattolica. These artificial reefs, made to protection of the beach with the intention of countering erosion of the coast, however, are an obstacle to the natural flow of the marine currents that would guarantee a better mixing of the marine coastal waters.
The beach that extends between Cesenatico and Cattolica is sandy, the seabed slowly slopes, water is generally shallow. The beach is almost entirely equipped for tourist use with sun loungers, parasols, bars and other facilities. Only small stretches of sand are free beaches, but even these areas have a rescue service during the bathing season.

The coast in the municipality of Cesenatico is 7,2 km, almost entirely monitored for bathing activities. Only 55 m are permanently banned due to the presence of the canal harbour of Cesenatico.

The coast in the municipalities of GatteoSavignano sul Rubicone and San Mauro Pascoli is respectively 785 m, 241 m and 723 m long. Around 112 m in the municipalities of Gatteo and Savignano sul Rubicone are permanently banned due to the presence of the mouth of the Rubicone river.

The coast in the municipality of Bellaria Igea Marina is 6,8 km long. Only 121 m are permanently banned due to the presente of the canal harbour.

The coast in the municipality of Rimini is 16,2 km long. 680 m are permanently banned due to the presence of the mouth of the Marecchia river (226 m) and of the canal harbour of Rimini (454 m).

We found the same features in the municipalities of Riccione (6,3 km; 234 m banned due to the presence of the mouth of the Marano river, 124 m, and of the canal harbour, 109 m), of Misano Adriatico (3,3 km, 223 m permanently banned due to the presence of the harbour of Portoverde, 40m, and of the mouth of the Conca river, 184 m) and ofCattolica (2,8 km, 284 m permanently banned due to the presence of the Ventena river, 127 m, and of the canal harbour, 156 m).