The wetlands of the Gargano

The Gargano, a splendid promontory that rises majestically in southern Italy, holds within it some of the most precious and fascinating wetlands in the country. These ecosystems, of crucial importance both for biodiversity and for local culture, are represented in an exemplary way by the Lakes of Lesina and Varano, to the north, which represent the most significant brackish complex in southern Italy, and by Lake Salso, to the south. Each of these places, together with the Frattarolo marshes, the mouths of the Fortore and the Sfinale marshes, with their own unique characteristics, contributes to the beauty and diversity of the Gargano landscape.

Lake Lesina

In the northern part of the Gargano, the Lesina lake it stretches out like a serene body of water reflecting the open sky. This lake, separated from the Adriatic Sea by a thin dune belt, is an extremely important habitat for many species of birds and plants.
The Lesina lagoon is particularly renowned for its halophilous vegetation and pioneering associations of plant species adapted to saline soils, as well as hosting one of the most important wintering areas for aquatic birds such as coots and ducks.

The dense reeds provide a breeding habitat for red herons, bitterns, little bitterns, as well as species such as the warbler, the white-throated warbler and the river nightingale. The black-winged stilt nests on mud banks. During the migratory period, species such as the osprey, the black stork, the white stork, flamingos, cranes, spoonbills, and throughout the year gray herons and egrets can be observed.

Fishing is a historical and important practice for the local economy, with species such as mullet, eels, sea bass, sea bream and silverside among the most fished. The lagoon serves as a nursery for many of these species, which spend their juvenile period there before returning to the sea to reproduce. The fishing techniques, handed down over the centuries, include the use of bertovelli, fishing boats, trammel nets and harpoons, with typical flat-bottomed boats adapted to the lagoon environment.

The village of Lesina, overlooking the lake, is a picturesque set of narrow streets and colorful houses that tell stories of life linked to water. The lakeside promenade offers enchanting views, especially at sunset, and invites you to take relaxing walks. No less fascinating is the walk on the wooden walkway that winds across the lake, leading towards the island of San Clemente, where you can admire the remains of a Roman villa.

Lake Varano

Il Varano lake, the largest Italian coastal lake, represents a true paradise for nature lovers. This vast expanse of saltwater, nestled between the mountains and the Adriatic Sea, is surrounded by lush vegetation and home to exceptional biodiversity. The Varano Island Nature Reserve is a safe refuge for numerous bird species, including cormorants and mergansers. In winter, Lake Varano welcomes coots, northern ducks such as the gray duck, golden-eye and lesser mergansers, as well as numerous great crested grebes and kingfishers. A significant number of cormorants winter near the Foce di Capoiale. In winter, in the area of ​​Torre Varano and Muschiaturo, you can observe egrets, gray herons and great white herons. Greater curlews, snipes and other shorebirds find nourishment in the humid meadows adjacent to the lake, where the black-winged stilt also finds space to nest.
The lake is also a place of great historical and cultural interest, as evidenced by the presence of the Varano Crucifix.

The Salso Lake Oasis

Completing the triptych of the great wetlands of the Gargano is theSalso Lake Oasis, located near Manfredonia. This protected area is an important wetland where 60 bird species nest, providing refuge for over 200 species, including the lanner, osprey and flamingo.

The oasis, which has undergone profound transformations due to reclamation interventions, today represents one of the most significant examples of environmental conservation and enhancement. Among reed beds and reclaimed basins, the Lago Salso Oasis is a place of extraordinary beauty, where nature manifests itself in all its power and fragility.

The wetlands of the Gargano, with their breathtaking landscapes, rich biodiversity and deep historical and cultural roots, are jewels to be preserved and enhanced. Visiting these areas means embarking on a journey through unique ecosystems, where water, earth and sky blend in a harmonious concert of life.

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