L’Oasi Gravina di Laterza
L’Oasi Gravina Laterza (the Laterza Ravine) is important because it represents a unique and specific habitat of one part of Italy. The ravines are true clefts in the ground, a kind of canyon cut into the middle of the Murge plateau and only present in this part of the country between Puglia and Basilicata.
Only close to is it possible to appreciate the incredible and unique environment of the ravine. There are amazingly steep walls, in some places perpendicular to the ground, with bare rock where only small, specialised tree species are able to survive. Going down there are many wooded areas, in several cases very old and dense, dominated by an oak typical of South-East Europe and only present in this area of Italy – further testimony to the special geology of the ravines.
Even the fauna has its peculiarities and the birds are well represented with species of absolute charm and of considerable conservation importance: majestic Egyptian Vultures and the more agile Lesser Kestrels fly the length and breadth of the ravine while in spring the melodious song of the Blue Rock Thrush echoes around and the Wheatear displays on its mating flights. There are many examples of small Passeriformes such as Wren, Subalpine Warbler and Sardinian Warbler which live and breed in the depths of the bushes and shrubs.
This special environment, in many ways unique, also provides a refuge to many species of reptiles and amphibians, insects and mammals of considerable interest, just because they are present only in the area of the ravines – as is the case with Kotschy’s Gecko, a small reptile which lives near the rocky zones or the beautiful red and black leopard snake, common at the bottom of the gorge. There are also several species of bat which roost in the rocky walls and which come out in summer evenings in search of their insect food.
The Laterza Ravine was established in 1984 according to the regional law on hunting activity. Since 1999 it has been managed by LIPU in collaboration with the Province of Taranto and the town of Laterza. Since 2006 it has been within the “Land of the Ravines” regional park.
Facilities and Visits
There is a car park and a visitor centre with a classroom and a diorama of the ravine. There is also a network of nature-footpaths with information panels.