Persano (english version) | WWF Italy

Persano (english version)

© R. Lenza
The otter’s home … Italy's rarest terrestrial mammal

Flora and Fauna

Persano nature reserve is located in the upper Piana del Sele, between the Picentini Mountains and the Alburni Mountains. The 110 ha area is located in the municipalities of Serre and Campagna (SA). Of these, approximately  70 ha are occupied by the basin; the nature reserve is included within a wider protected area of 3400 hectares, 2100 of which are part of the Regional Natural Reserve for Fauna Protection/, while the remaining 1300 are a restocking and catching area; altitude varies between 40 and 75 meters above sea level.
Together with the adjacent Military property, the nature reserve form a large green isle that has preserved its natural characteristics.
The area rich in biodiversity is characterized by a mosaic of herbaceous, arboreal and shrub-like vegetation that can be seen inside the Natural Reserve and in its immediate surroundings.
The Lake has been colonized by many water plants like the longleaf pondweed, the Eurasian watermilfoil, and the hornwort that plays an important role in the diet of vegetarian birds like coots and diving ducks. The grove of reeds are mainly comprised of common reed,  and cover about one third of the lake surface. It is distributed in large stretches on the shores and the isles. The groove of reeds represents both a natural filter, important for water filtering, is an essential nesting habitat for passerines  typical of this habitat. Depending on water depth the common reed associates or gives way to other communities: the branched bur-reed, the club-rush, the lesser bulrush.

The hygrophilous wood is considered one of the most important of the country. It acts as an important buffer zone during flooding. The principal arboreal species of the woodland include black poplars black alder, and willow species including white willows and purple willows. Noteworthy are the thirteen species of wild orchids that grow in the reserve.
The ecological value of the nature reserve is for the conservation of its most important inhabitant, the European otter. The species is at high risk of extinction in the country. The mammal is the symbol of Persano. The Sele basin constitutes one of the last refuges for that animal, in light of the fact that 50% of the otter population in Italy is lives in Persano and in other areas of Campania, Basilicata and Puglia regions of southern Italy.
As a wetland, Persano Oasis is an extremely important habitat for birds as a  breeding site in spring and and wintering site during migrations and winter.
Today, over 184 species live in the nature reserve, 47 of which are nesting in the nature reserve or right in its immediate surroundings.
From October to March common pochards, ferruginous ducks, mallards and Eurasian teals are found in Persano; Eurasian wigeon, northern pintails, northern shovelers are also present.  Coots constantly crowd  the waters and many garganey may be observed in spring.
In spring flocks of cranes overfly the nature reserve skies. Great cormorants, herons, black-crowned night herons, squacco herons are also present. Birds of Prey are found in significant numbers: European honey buzzard, the black and red kites and ospreys can all be observed with a bit of luck.
The waters of the lake are an important habitat for lampreys: despite pollution and habitat loss, other species found include the Italian bleak, a threatened species throughout southern Italy.

Visiting the nature reserve

Guided tours start at the Visitors Center, from here visitors are taken along the nature trails. There are two trails which can be visited: the first one, on the left bank of the river, runs along wide meadows and includes three observation huts facing the lake and two others in front of the woodland; the second trail is about 400 meters long and runs through the groove of reeds and hosts three observation huts that give visitors the opportunity to observe birds at a close distance without creating disturbance. Visitors may also reach an elevated viewing point, the ideal location for watching the diving ducks!
The best tiem to visit is during the migratory pass in autumn and spring. During these periods great numbers of birds concentrate in  the nature reserve.

conctat information and opening times

The nature reserve is open all year long according to the following timetable:

Groups and schools: daily visits through advance booking.
General public: visits (only guided) on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays:
-    October to May at 10 am and 3 pm
-    May to September at at 9 am and 5 pm

Photographers and birdwatchers: please contact the reserve for special conditions.

For booking and information: +39 0828 974684



By car
Take the A3 “Salerno-Reggio Calabria” toll-way and exit at Campagna interchange, then turn left and continue to the state highway 19 “delle Calabrie”.
Turn left again and after 4 km take the left on the municipal roads Falzia, the Visitor Center is just 1 km ahead.

Main entrance: Via Falzia, 13, 84028, Serre (SA)


Places to visit

- Serre-Persano solar power station, the largest solar power station in the world;
- Borbone palace of Persano;
- Serre historic city centre and the Museum of Rural Life
- Paestrum temple and the Archeological Museum
- Castelcivita caves
- Alburni Mountains
- The Certosa of Padula
- Pertosa caves
- Reggiano, nel Vallo di Diano historic city centre

Overnight stays and restaurants

It is possible to taste the typical dishes of Cilento at the restaurant L'Airone (ph. 0828.974446) and at the restaurant Al Borgo (ph. 0828.396780).

At the La Campagnola di Amelio Del Corso dairy farm (ph./fax 0828.974752) Località Paraglione, SS 19,  Serre,  it is possible to buy excellent Buffalo-milk mozzarella.

Torre in Pietra Bed & Breakfast -  Contrada Siepe Grande snc 84028 Serre, ph. 0828.6513131; fax 0828.437651; cell 320.4945763 e-mail

Hotel Grazia, ad Eboli, ph. 0828.366038

Agriturismo Di Feo at Cerrelli di Altavilla Silentina