SAPIR was established on 28 June 1957 as a joint stock company with a corporate capital of a million Italian lire, which could be increased to twenty million. The company’s purpose was to design, build and develop the port of Ravenna. The company’s founders were ANIC (part of the ENI Group), the Chambers of Commerce, and Serafino Ferruzzi, with strong support from Italy’s Transport Minister, Giuseppe Medici.
The Board of Directors met for the first time on 23 August of the same year, and elected Enrico Mattei (President of the ENI) as its chairman.
A few months later, the Ravenna Local Authority became a shareholder in SAPIR, followed over the years by the Provincial and Regional Authorities as well.
In 1958, the chairmanship passed on to the port’s designer, Luigi Greco. Then, from 1964 to 1974, the post was occupied by Luciano Cavalcoli, President of the Chambers of Commerce, and the most strenuous supporter of the cause for Ravenna’s port.
SAPIR obtained the necessary authorization to proceed with the construction work at the port under Italian law 528/1961, known by the name of the Ravenna-born Minister of Public Works at the time, Benigno Zaccagnini. This piece of legislation entrusted SAPIR with the completion of all the public works in the areas of Ravenna’s port and industrial zone.
Excavation work on the Candiano canal had begun already in the first half of the 18th century, but it needed to be made wider and deeper. The earth removed in the process was needed to reclaim and repurpose the marshy land behind its two banks.
The works needed in the area began in 1963, with the speedy excavation of the canal and the building of wharves in the San Vitale area. As the works went ahead, there was a gradual increase in the amount of traffic the port could handle because they enabled larger and larger ships to dock in Ravenna. The port was officially opened with a ceremony on 3 July 1971.
Another important chapter in SAPIR’s story was written in 1976, when another famous figure from Ravenna, Sergio Cavina (then president of the Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority) promoted the regional law that enabled Sapir to establish its terminal.
For more than 30 years, the story of SAPIR has coincided with the story of the Port of Ravenna that the company built and managed, achieving results that were initially unimaginable.
Legislation in 1994 gave rise to the creation of the Port Authority (which acquired all the functions of public interest on matters of port management), and SAPIR’s role in the steering and planning of the port were declining, so the company turned its attention to managing its own areas and to further developing its terminal activities (art. 2 of its Statute).
In 2017, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its establishment, Sapir commissioned a study and a publication about its story.