Riserva Statale delle Cesine

Riserva Statale delle Cesine

The Cesine wetland lies 5 km from San Cataldo, which was the old Porto Adriano that served Lecce. The wetland covers 620 ha, with 348 in the Riserva Statale delle Cesine, created in 1977. The area is managed by the WWF and, since 1980, it has been the Riserva Naturale di Popolamento Animale. It is both beautiful and varied, with rich vegetation and a range of animals, some of which live in the park and others that are migratory. Moreover, this is one of the last stretches of the coastal marshes that stretched from Brindisi to Otranto.
Although this is predominantly a wetland, it does cover a number of environments and, particular, various sections of transitional vegetation. There are large expanses of reed-beds (among the reeds, you might see the colourful yellow iris or purple orchid), numerous water channels, stretches of swamp, fens and two ponds (Pantano Grande and Salapi). These are separated from the sea by a barrier of sand dunes colonised by European searocket, salsola, sea bindweed, Phoenician juniper, sea holly and the lily.
The other areas of the reserve are the pine groves, Mediterranean scrubland, holm oak wood and the cultivated zones. Since the reserve lies on one of the main Mediterranean migratory routes, it is a stopover point for numerous birds, such as mallards, northern pintails, wigeons, sheldrakes, mergansers, ferruginous ducks, grey and purple herons, great egrets, little egrets, spoonbills, marsh harriers, terns, little bitterns and black-winged stilts. The Riserva Statale delle Cesine is open all year round and also offers various guided tours, environmental summer camps and adventure camps for children. The ‘Le Cesine’ grange has been turned into accommodation and a Visitors’ Centre. It is also the hub of a series of trails that explore the pine groves and Mediterranean scrubland before reaching the hides where you can watch the marshes. One of these trails is suitable for wheelchairs.

How to get there
Riserve delle Cesine: from Lecce take the SS543 to San Cataldo and then the Salento coast road for 5 km going south.

Useful addresses
Riserva statale delle Cesine visits and information: Coop. OASI, tel. 0832892264.

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