Porto Selvaggio Nature Reserve
Porto Selvaggio Nature Riserve
The Porto Selvaggio reserve is 516 hectares of natural park between two watch towers on the west coast of Salento in Nardò, Lecce, Puglia. The park was created in 1980 following a reforestation programme which began in the 1950s. The park is mainly dense pine forest and thick Mediterranean maquis stretches down to cliffs overlooking the Ionian sea in a wonderfully colourful display. The Palude del Capitano, an area of marshland, lies just a few metres from the coast. The reserve has various types of habitat from marsh to cliff tops, and has a wide range of wildlife such as hedgehogs, foxes and weasels and birds, including kestrels, thrush and hoopoe. It is particularly famous for the beautiful Talentino lemon trees which grow there. The park also contains several important prehistoric archaeological sites. It’s a popular place for picnics and you can swim in the crystal clear waters of the sea as long as you don’t let the rocks put you off.
One of the most important places in Salento for prehistoric archaeology, the main grottoes are Cavallo, Uluzzo, Bernardin and Grotto Capelvenere (which is just on the edges of the park). With its 8 metres of sediment documenting 120 thousand years of history, Grotto Cavallo has yielded many important Neanderthal artefacts, including stone tools. It’s named after the butchered remains of a horse, one of many kinds of animal bones found there. The area has also given its name to a Neolithic culture – the Uluzziano. The most recent excavations of sediment from the Paleolithic era have brought to light new finds including carvings of people, animals and abstract designs which elevate Uluzzo Bay to the status of a major archaeological site.
The Serra Cicora plain is an archaeological site of great interest. Excavations began in 1988 and are still going on today. Finds range from evidence of the lower Paleolithic right up to decorated ceramic ware dating from the 5th century BC. There is also a necropolis, and 20 or so tombs have so far been excavated.
Not far from the Neolithic site are the grotticelle of Serra Cicora, one of which housed ancient bronze relics. Like the nearby Grotto of the Cappuccini at Galatone also in Lecce province, this makes the area an important reference point for the southern Mediterranean Bronze age.
Entry to the reserve is free of charge. http://www.portoselvaggio.net