If you love the outdoors and being in touch with nature then the Oasis of Sant’Alessio (l’Oasi di Sant’Alessio) just outside of Pavia is perfect for you! Spend a day immersed in greenery and tranquility with some amazing animals. This protected nature reserve is located in a small town named Sant’Alessio con Vialone and is just 6 km from Pavia and 25 km from Milan. The park entrance is the same as the village’s 14th-century castle entrance.
Antonia and Harry Salamon, who also bought the castle, founded the oasis in 1973. Their idea was to create a wildlife area where animals, especially those species at risk of extinction, could be protected and naturally repopulated. The park was the first center in Italy of its kind and the animals are still closely monitored by a team of specialists.
It was only in 1994, however, that the area was made accessible to visitors thanks to LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection). Today, we can observe various species of animals, which are allowed to roam freely or are contained in carefully constructed habitats and aviaries. Mammals such as roe deer, beavers, squirrels, and wild horses, as well as reptiles and birds are present.
Visiting the Oasis
Various itineraries can help you make the most of your visit.
The European route
The humid habitats of southern Europe have been reconstructed on this route and are characterized by a large forest. You can primarily see bird species such as hoopoes, storks, herons, and kingfishers, which, for the first time in the world, bred in this park. Aviaries are used for the reproduction of the species which then go on to repopulate various areas of Lombardy and other regions. The white stork, for instance, had not been seen in Italy for five centuries until the repopulation program. You will also find swamps and ponds with cranes and wild flamingos. The Oasis’ staff is restoring a watercourse that will soon be populated by fish from the rivers of the Po Valley.
Butterflies and Hummingbirds
Along the same route, you can find both hummingbirds and a large variety of colorful butterflies that are bred during the summer thanks to a large number of flowers, plants, and caterpillars. Breeding begins in April and continues until the winter when it stops and resumes the following spring.
The tropical route
This area is dedicated to aquariums, reptiles and insects. You’ll find interesting species from various tropical habitats across the globe including the chameleon, anteaters, turtles, the bird of paradise and the sloth.
As you walk through the oasis you will eventually come across the heron nesting area. Hundreds of herons return here to nest every year after returning from Africa.
In addition to visiting all these fantastic animals, the park also offers educational tours for schools and some events, such as falconry shows. If you want to spend the day in the oasis, you can have lunch at the restaurant or have a nice outdoor lunch in the picnic area.
This park is suitable for everyone- adults and children. When the famous director Ermanno Olmi visited, he was so impressed with its beauty that he called it “the Garden of Eden”.
You’ll just have to visit and find out if you agree with him.
Visit the official website (Italian only) for the calendar, hours, and ticket prices.
Copyright photo 1: viviparchi.eu
Copyright photo 2, 3 and 4: oasisantalessio.it