Bosco San Silvestro (english version) | WWF Italy

Bosco San Silvestro (english version)

Bosco San Silvestro
© F. Paolella
A holm Oak woodland that survived the degradation of the surrounding natural environment ... A true Oasis overlooking the beautiful Royal Palace of Caserta.
Bosco San Silvestro Nature Reserve is located inside Caserta’s urban area.
It comprises the contiguous hills of Montemaiuolo and Montebriano, where the waterfall feeding the amazing park of Vanvitelliano originates. It is an important example of evergreen forest predominantly formed by Holm oak and Mediterranean maquis. It once served as hunting grounds and farmland to the Bourbons.
A butterfly garden, fern garden and fallow deer area can be visited along the nature trail .. the visit then continues along the honey path...

About Bosco di San Silvestro

The Bosco of San Silvestro Nature Reserve is located in the S. Leucio area of Caserta on the hills of Montemaiuolo and Montebriano. Here the waterfall feeding into the Royal Palace park of Vanvitelliano  has its origin.
Located north of the Vanvitelliano complex at varying altitudes (from 143 and 310 m above sea level and with a 70% slope), it covers an area of more than 760.00 square metres. It is predominated by high stem vegetation dominated by Holm oak trees.
The whole area is located within the piedmont area that connects the eastern side of Mt. S. Leucio (466 m) and the eastern and south-eastern sides of Castel Morrone (392 m). The area is characterised by the alternation of gentle and steep slopes.

Flora and Fauna

The limestone terrains of Bosco San Silvestro Nature Reserve host thick high trunk vegetation largely composed of holm oak maquis. It is a secondarily originated maquis. At the higher altitudes the dominant holm oak intertwines with the strawberry tree, while Phillyrea is more common on the windy areas.
As well as the Holm Oak other species can be observed in the woodland. These include the turkey oak, the hop-hornbeam, the sweet chestnut, the sycamore, the wild cherry, the horse-chestnut and many conifers (some introduced by man) like the Aleppo pine, the oleander and the common fig.
In the warmer zones of the nature reserve the holm oak gives way to olive trees and to other Mediterranean maquis species like the laurestine the common myrtle, the mastic and other shrubs.
The woodland does not undergo significant changes during the seasons.
In the past the introduction of the fallow deer caused significant damage to the undergrowth and shrubs of the nature reserve. In the absence of natural predators the introduced fallow deer population rapidly increased in numbers exceeding the capacity of the environment. For this reason part of the population has been transferred to other adequate locations permitting the woodland undergrowth to recover. The whole transfer process, which required significant economic and human effort, has been supported by the Province.
The clearings are dominated by wild mint and, in springtime, by the blossoms of many wild orchid species like the bee orchid. Its name derives from the similarity between the orchids and bees. Other species of orchids include the Orchis italic and the exceptional small-leaved helleborine. The latter is a true exception in that it represents a post-glacial botanical relic still present on our territory even if it belongs to a mid-montane zone.

Bosco di San Silvestro hosts two acknowledged habitat of Community interest: the Olea and Ceratonia forests and the Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia forests. A rich diversity of mushroom species grows in the woodland.

The reserve is well known for the rich diversity of bird species, many of which are migratory. Many of the birds are classified in the EU directives as species of Community interest. During winter a significant number of birds arrive from the cooler regions of northern Europe, leaving again in spring to reach their breeding grounds in the north. In spring other species come to Bosco di San Silvestro to breed after having spent the winter months in their wintering grounds south of the Sahara.

The Caserta hills are midway between the Appennini ridge (the Matese) and the sea, along the migration routes of many species of birds. Breeding species include the Hoopoe, the Eurasian Collared Dove, the Common Wood Pigeon, the Red-backed Shrike, the Spotted Flycatcher, the Long-tailed Tit, the Nightingale, the Golden Oriole, the Song Thrush and the Common Cuckoo.

Wintering species include the White Wagtail, the Grey Wagtail, the Common Firecrest, the Chiffchaff, the Eurasian Siskin, the Eurasian Wryneck, the European Robin, the Black Redstart and the Eurasian Woodcock,.
Resident species comprise the Great Spotted Woodpecker, the Green Woodpecker, the Blackcap, the Great Tit , the Blue Tit, the Goldfinch, the Winter Wren, the Common Blackbird,, the Chaffinch and the Eurasian Jay.
Birds of prey include the Common Kestrel, the Common Buzzard, the Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), the Little Owl, the Tawny Owl, the Barn Owl and the Long-eared Owl.
There is also a remarkable presence of reptiles including the Green Whip Snake, the Four-lined Snake, and the Grass Snake.

Mammals include the badger, the red fox, the European hedgehog, the beech marten , the least weasel, the edible dormouse and the Hazel Dormouse. There are also some individuals of Fallow deer introduced in the 1970s. Among the numerous bat species some are of Community interest. These include the Greater Mouse-eared Bat, the Greater Horseshoe Bat and the rare Lesser Horseshoe Bat, the latter is included in the Red Book of Endangered Species.

Contact Information and Opening Times

Visits to the nature reserve are only by guided tours on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays with two shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (no booking required) according to the following timetable:
  • From 1st March to 31st March & 1st October to 15th November tours are at 11 am and 3 pm
  • From 1st April tol 31st July & 1st September to 30th September tours at 10:30 am and 5 pm.
  • From 10th  November to 29th February visits are only for groups of at least 10 people. Booking is required by the Friday preceding the visit.

For schools or groups visits are possible every day but only through advance booking. Times are arranged upon booking.

Tel: +39 0823.36.13.00 - + 39 329.100.38.08  347-7974488   Fax +39 0823/446110    
e-mail: or

Seasonal Events

The Honey Day
From behind a glass screen, visitors can watch the opening of the beehive, the comb withdrawal and all the phases of the honey making process. At the end a honey tasting session gives visitors the chance to try the freshly made honey.

Night of the Shooting Stars
It is a night-time visit exceptionally organised in August on S. Lawrence’s night. Visitors (equipped with mats, plaids or air-beds) are taken to a large clearing where they can observe the shooting stars while lying down on a field. At the end of the evening they will be taken back to the Real Casino yard for a midnight spaghetti dinner.

The Olive-Oil Day
This event is particularly favoured by children, adults and families that want to have fun by participating in the olive harvest from the rescued Borbonic trees. After lunch participants visit the oil mill where they can watch the different milling phases. Oil-tasting sessions available at the end of the day!


By car from Rome: take the “Caserta Nord” exit from the highway. At the traffic light junction turn left (towards Caserta), then turn left again before the Royal Palace (via Passionisti). Follow directions to the WWF Nature Reserve or to the S. Leucio Belvedere. At the 4-way intersection of Briano go straight (keep left) following the directions for the WWF Nature Reserve or “Caserta Vecchia”, then turn right after 900 metres and take the small street that indicates the Nature Reserve.  Park the car on the right just before the entrance gate.
By car from Naples: take the “Caserta Sud” exit from the highway and follow the directions for Benevento. Take the “ANAS” road on the left towards Caserta. Exit after the second tunnel (in direction of Caiazzo) and follow the directions to the WWF Nature Reserve or to the S. Leucio  Belvedere until the 4-way intersection of Briano. Continue as above.

By train: From Caserta’s train station take the Ghiandaia Bus (if previously booked) from the square in front of the station.

Visiting Bosco di San Silvestro

The Royal Casino of San Silvestro (Collecini-Patturelli 1795-1801).
Built to equip the “King’s Farm” with buildings fit to farm and transform the earth's products for the King and his court, it today hosts the Visitor Centre with a small Natural Museum of the Woodland, a conference and rooms, two small food courts, a meeting room, a resting area and the honey and wax laboratories.

The Picnic Area
Next to the Royal Casino of San Silvestro, in the shadows of the secular Holm Oaks trees, the picnic area is equipped with benches and tables to accommodate around 150 people. It is particularly appreciated during the warm season for its freshness and the sense of freedom that it offers to its users.

A Bourbon sheep-fold once known as the “Pecoreria” it has recently been renovated. The project was financed by 3M Italy and is today a 24 bed lodge with a kitchen, dining room and chimney, showers and a heating system.

Camping Area
A wide area located in the clearing next to the lodge suitable to accommodate tents. Nearby restroom facilities available.

The Eco-House
Also called  Antica Casa dell’Arco (Old Arch House) it was the home of a tenant farmer and a deposit for hunting nets. Renovated with biohousing techniques and materials it is equipped with solar panels, photovoltaic cells and a rainwater recovery system.

The Gatekeeper’s Lodge
Located next to the main gate it hosts the main reception for visitors, school groups, and for guests staying at the Guesthouse.