Monte Sant'Elia (english version) | WWF Italy

Monte Sant'Elia (english version)

Oasi WWF Monte Sant'Elia rel=
Oasi WWF Monte Sant'Elia
© Grazia Catania
WWF Oasis of Monte Sant'Elia is in the eastern Murge that overlooks the gravina and the Gulf of Taranto, a semi-arid Mediterranean habitat.

About Monte Sant’Elia

Mount Sant'Elia lies at 400 m.a.s.l. on the Southern side of the Eastern Murge, dominating the Gulf of Taranto. From the protected area it is possible to see the Pollino massif in the far distance.
The Oasis is dominated by an extensive woodland (Bosco Caracciolo) from Mottola to Martina Franca.
Its extension covers about 100 hectares.

Flora and fauna

The vegetation is characterized by the common Mediterranean maquis physiognomy with an exceptional flora where the garrigue gives way to the woodland. Wild orchids grow in large numbers, among which the wonderful Barlia robertiana.
The area is of exceptional natural value for the fauna it hosts: species such as the lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus), the lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), barn owl (Tyto alba), little owl (Athena noctua), long-eared owl (Asio otus) and European scops owl (Otus scops) live on the reserve premises.

In spring the Oasis is the centre of an important migration flow of birds of prey as they fly north towards their breeding grounds along the Adriatic coast.
Many mammal species find a safe haven in the nature reserve including the crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata) among others. Research has shown the high diversity of amphibians living in the area. It is one of the richest areas of the region along with the Gargano area.

Some species of Balkan origin such as the geco of Kotschy (Cyrtopodion kotschyi) and the leopard snake (Zamenis situla) are noteworthy. Other species listed in the EU directives include Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni), quite common in the area.

Visiting Monte Sant’Elia nature reserve

The nature reserve can be visited with a guided tour. Bookings may be done by contacting the reserve.


The nature reserve includes a Manor farm comprising several units among which there is a 17 “trulli” complex dating them back to the VII century. Behind the trulli stand several “jazzi”, typical animal enclosures made of dry stone. WWF Italy owns the nature reserves and manages it directly.


Contact Information and Opening Times

Mobile ph. +39 320 6067922; 9:00-13:00 from Monday to Friday



The Natural Reserve is located in Massafra municipality in the province of Taranto.

Take the highway 100 and exit at Mottola, and drive on for 5,6 km in direction of Noci, right after a hairpin bend follow the directions for Martina Franca: after 5 km there is a sign that leads to the Manor farm.

Places to visit

-    Massafra and Martina Franca historic centers.
-    “Le Cesine“ State Natural Reserve at Vernole (LE).