We The Italians | Italian gardens and parks: Le Mortine Oasis

Italian gardens and parks: Le Mortine Oasis

Italian gardens and parks: Le Mortine Oasis

  • WTI Magazine #160 Feb 17, 2023
  • 442

Le Mortine Oasis is located on the border between Campania and Molise, in the municipalities of Capriati al Volturno (Caserta, Campania) and Venafro (Isernia, Molise), on an artificial river oxbow created by the construction of a dam for hydroelectric production. It consists of more than 50,000 hectares.

The ensemble of aquatic environments is surrounded by one of the best-preserved hygrophilous forests (willows, poplars, alders) in Italy, originally about 100 hectares (unfortunately eroded by indiscriminate cutting). The Volturno River penetrates it by fractionating it into impenetrable islands with unique characteristics; then it widens, and its slow waters favor the development of a reed thicket that also covers the banks of the regulating basin.


The vegetation that once encompassed the entire course of the river is still well preserved in this stretch: typical riparian stands formed by hydrophytic and heliophytic specimens, shoreline vegetation, shrubland and, above all, hygrophilous forest can be observed. Phragmites australis reed thicket and tifeto border the steep banks of the Enel regulation reservoir and develop in small patches in the contiguous basin in front of the Volturno dam. In the ditches and canals that cut through the forest and in the ephemeral pools there is semi-submerged flora: bulrush, esparto, nasturtium and veronica. Willows sink their roots into the riverbed creating islands of vegetation that counter erosion; basket willow, red willow and white willow dominate the flooded forest along with white poplar and black alder. In the drier outer margins appear ash trees, elms, field maples and a few specimens of English oak, remnants of the ancient lowland forests that extended over the Venafro Plain.


The lake basin and forest provide the ideal habitat for a diverse aquatic fauna, especially in winter and in the passage seasons, thanks to their location on migratory routes: mallards and moorhens, coots and great crested grebes nest here in spring; pochards, wigeons, teals, garganeys, tufted ducks, pintails, and again, the grey heron, purple heron, and egret, bittern and stilt-bird winter here. Birds of prey include the brown kite, buzzard, goshawk, and marsh owl.


Le Mortine Oasis offers the following services: visitor center, equipped and marked Nature Trail, wildlife observation hut, educational pond, traditional fruit garden, educational beehives, picnic area.


Venafro: a town of pre-Roman origin with a characteristic historic center, surrounded by ancient and extensive olive groves that push into the upper Volturno valley, an area of great scenic and natural interest, dotted with villages.

Capriati a Volturno: a picturesque town on the slopes of the Matese, it is the gateway to Campania's Matese Regional Park, near which are other WWF oases including those of Bosco San Silvestre, Guardaregia-Campochiaro, and Oasi delle Abetine.