Le Cesine

Natural park protected by the WWF, Le Cesine, a location in Salento for perfect for nature lovers. A profound harmony with the surrounding environment, the presence of protected animals and a beautiful dense forest with typical Mediterranean flora make it a destination for excursions.


Le Cesine, WWF Natural Park and Reserve

Natural oasis protected by the WWF, Le Cesine, natural park north of Torre Specchia (and of San Foca) for wonderful picnics, surrounded by the perfume of the woods, or blinded by the glitter of sunlight reflected from the mirror of crystal clear water. Cesine’s name derives from the Latin word “Seges,” which means “uncultivated or abandoned area”.

The term hints that in the Middle Ages trees where cut and frosts burned to obtain fertile land (Segine was also the village that once stood near the Castle of Acaja, a small fortified town of the municipality of Vernole). The oasis stretches for 620 hectares, 350 are directly managed by the WWF.

The Natural Park is one of the last surviving stretches of the wetlands, that once extended from Otranto to Brindisi. The landscape is varied and consists of natural environments, each with typical species of plants, a true natural mosaic. These habitats are reeds, marsh, coastal dunes, pine forest, maquis, ilex, drainage canals, cultivated fields; and all of them are of paramount importance so that the Oasis would be of interest to the many types of birds that frequent here, being on a major migratory route, a true delight for nature lovers. The two ponds behind the dunes of the swamp are called “Pantano grande” and “Salapi”, both with brackish water, but mainly fed by rainwater; usually not exceeding two feet of depth. They are separated from the sea by a strip of sand dunes, sometimes overridden by the storms. It follows that the salinity is variable and decreases towards the interior. “Salapi” comes from the discovery of a Messapian city called “Salapia”.

The other small basins are named “Salapieddhi”. The boundary of the wetland is given by the conducting channel, which runs from Torre Specchia in San Cataldo, to the western part of the Oasis, from the sea towards the eastern part. Inside the wood, a few meters from the marsh there are three cabins (two elevated and one on sea level ) especially built for bird watching. e find interesting routes and paths into the woods and scrub to admire the flora and fauna.

A silence, broken occasionally by the chirping of birds, makes a surreal atmosphere, giving the feeling of a deep harmony with nature. Quicksand of small dimensions (non-hazardous, visible mainly in the autumn) give a pinch of salt to the excursions. A place you must visit, since it is one of the few protected areas and still in its natural state.


Centuries ago Salento consisted mainly of swamps and extensive forests of oaks, an excellent shelter for mosquitoes (malaria was a very common disease); around the end of the 19th century these areas were transformed and reclaimed. This was implemented through an extensive network of channels that are linked to a main channel.

Around the middle of the 21st century this area was entrusted to the Puglia region, 350 hectares of land and another 300 acres were granted to private individuals. Up to the 70s the lands granted to the Region Puglia were under the management of an association of hunters. Later, with the awareness of environmental consciousness, the importance of conservation and preservation of areas such as Le Cesine, began the work for the establishment of a natural reserve.

It is managed by WWF Italy, in agreement with the Ministry of the Environment, and the SMA SpA, owner of part of the land. The remaining land is privately owned. The oasis is also SPA recognised (Special Protection Area) to the nesting of many different species of animals and SCI (Site of Community Interest) for the fauna and flora species recorded in the lists in the area.

The tower of the Farm “Le Cesine is the oldest part, dating back to the 15th century, at is situated about 1 km from the sea and was used, of course, as a watch tower to spot approaching pirates. The body of the farm has been built in different periods ranging from the seventeenth century and ending with the construction of other rooms a few decades ago. Today the farm is owned by the Puglia Region.



by car

Reach Bari through the highway. From there continue on the Brindisi-Lecce. Once in Lecce, take the ring road and take the exit for San Cataldo. Once in San Cataldo continued southward on the coast road until you meet Le Cesine. 

by train

Le Cesine is reached along the Adriatic (Milan – Bologna – Pescara) or through the Rome – Caserta. Once in Lecce would be convenient to rent a car.

by plane

Le Cesine can be reached by flying to Brindisi here you can rent a car.