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.