The Oasis of Le Mortine, is part of a wood between the communes of Capriati al Volturno and Venafro. It covers 25 hectares and offers natural paths, sheds for fauna observation, a didactic pond, a botanical garden and areas for tourist stops. Both from the historical and landscape point of view, the whole area has to be considered as the Northern end of Bourbon Royal Hunt of Torcino and Mastrati.
It is a fluvial, artificial oxbow lake along Volturno river. Its creation is due to a barrage for hydroelectric production. The riparian vegetation is still well preserved, in particular a hydrophilous wood area, mostly constituted by black alders, white poplars, white and red willows, surrounded by manna-ashes, rural maples, elms and flours in the driest zones.
Outside, exemplars of oaks are scattered as a token of old “planiziale” woods that wrapped the fluvial woods and extended on the plain of Venafro. In the ditches and canals, the typical vegetation is composed by reeds, espartos, nasturtium and veronica flowerings.
The reed thicket edges the steep banks of the regulation storage and turns into little edges in the basin in front of the barrage of ENEL (National electricity board).
The species of the aquatic environment are diversified, especially in winter and during migrations.
The nesting aquatic birds include wild ducks, gallinules, bald-coots, great grebes and water-rails.
The wintering birds are pochards, shovellers, widgeons, teals, garganeys, dun-birds, pintails, ashy herons, represented in the Oasis symbol, bitterns, stilt-birds, red herons and egrets; rarely the grey-gooses.
The most common raptors are the brown kites, buzzards, stone-falcons, goshawks and marsh owls while the rarest ones are the royal kites, perns and goshawks. Due to a great number of ichthyic species, the oasis is one of the most favoured places by people keen on fishing. In May 2000, an English oak trout of 5 kg in weight was caught there.
The Oasis structures, the tourist centre, the natural paths, the sheds for birds sighting, the botanical garden and the didactic pond, altogether welcome the visitor. The environmental features of Volturno valley are usually illustrated in the tourist centre through a projection.
The natural path is easily accessible and practicable; the first part has the limpid resurgences of Volturno on one side and is parallel to the shore of the “ENEL” artificial lake on the other side.
Following a signalled secondary path, you can reach the observatory of aquatic fauna, set destination that allows you to enjoy the striking view of the lake, with its irrepressible riparian vegetation and verdant view of Torcino mountains. After passing through a small glade that leads to a didactic picturesque pond and the visit of didactic hives, the natural path wanders through the luxuriant hydrophilous wood dominated by high poplars, alders and a brushwood where the lianas, clung on the trunks, create a thick-mesh cobweb. It seems like the glorious history of these places, the Hunting Royal Reserves of Venafro and Torcino, the theatre of Bourbon hunts but also of contemporaneous and absolute preservation, resurface for a second. After visiting an arm of Volturno, meandering wrapped up through the wood blanket, you go out from the wood, following its perimeter. The Northern view is dominated by the wild range of Mainarde, the part of Molise of the National Park of Abruzzo, Latium and Molise, leaning its spurs as far as the cultivated fields of Plain of Venafro.
After going through the wood again by a comfortable and exciting walking, into an area characterised by old trees, the path leads back to the start.
Furthermore, at a few kilometres from Venafro, on the way to the Cathedral, it is possible to pass through a striking itinerary, through a little track winding among secular olive trees and terracings.
It is a striking itinerary where it is possible to see also the perfect system of waters drainage, created to embank the current during the most intense rainfalls.
(Source: Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise – storia, natura e curiosità dell’Appennino Centrale)