If you love nature and want to spend a day observing both indigenous and exotic animals without having to stray too far from Milan, here are some great Oases and Eco-faunal Observatories to visit.

Sant’Alessio con Vialone naturalistic oasis (PV)

Via Cadorna 2, Sant’Alessio con Vialone (PV)

The Sant’ Alessio naturalistic oasis - which lies around the eponymous historic fifteenth-century castle - is a short distance from Milan (25 km) and is also close to  Pavia and the Certosa Monastery.

It is one of the most famous nature reserves in Italy and provides special opportunities for study or research as it is managed for the purposes of conservation of many bird species.

Although it is one of the smallest nature reserves in Europe it is the most visited in Italy and is ranked third worldwide for visits by naturalist photographers.

It is a beautiful and protected area of importance for observation itineraries on flora and, particularly, fauna.

The park was created over forty years ago as a breeding ground and sanctuary for endangered species and, thanks to a meticulous environmental reconstruction with ponds, groves, hedges and lowlands, an unbelievably rich and varied population of wild animals have taken up residence here.

Every year dozens and dozens of rare indigenous animals leave the park, fundamental for the environment as they are specially bred to repopulate nature. Walking through the paths, entirely immersed in the trees, you can spot a wide variety of animals, from European to tropical birds, mammals, reptiles and fish. There are three different trails: European, Tropical and Butterfly & Hummingbirds. Those who want to spend the whole day in the oasis can chose from the menu at the indoor bar or enjoy a packed lunch in the picnic area.

 

Le Cornelle Faunistic Park - Valbrembo ( BG)

Via Cornelle 16, Valbrembo (BG)

Le Cornelle Faunistic Park can be found approx. 50 km from Milan and 10km from Bergamo; it is one of the most-loved by children with its 126,000 m2 of greenery available to the animals and to those who want to get to know them.

The park hosts about 120 species of animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles; species from all continents are protected within special environments that recreate their natural habitat.

Conservation, research and education are the key values ​​that the park deems fundamental for its activity.

Thanks to the simple fences and low barriers visitors can get as close as possible to the animals’ spaces. So if you want to see elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, kangaroos this is the place for you!

Entry to the park is strictly by foot and, following a set itinerary, you can observe animals from all over the world; visitors are greeted at the entrance by the wonderful sight of flocks of birds flying free.

The numerous births of endangered species are a testament to the authentic quality of life in the park. As for the catering, in addition to numerous outdoor and indoor picnic areas, there are several dining options inside the park where you can take a restorative break in the open air surrounded by greenery.

 

Aprica Alpine Eco-faunistic Observatory (SO)

Aprica (SO)

The Aprica Alpine Eco-Faunistic Observatory is located within the Orobie Valtellinesi Park and is a unique structure of its kind as it enables visitors to experience the thrill of observing animals in freedom, approaching them up to within a few metres, without protection nets and in complete safety.

It is an area of over 25 hectares containing an equipped, easy-to-follow educational-naturalistic itinerary along which the visitor has the opportunity to learn about nature and to observe most of the animal species and plants present in the park: chamois, ibexes, roe deer, raptors, tits, squirrels and small amphibians populate this naturalistic area which is a destination for visitors from all over Europe.

The Brown Bear of the Alps wildlife area hosts two specimens, observable from some strategic points.

Access to the Observatory is possible all year round but only by participating in the guided tours organised along the equipped educational-naturalistic itinerary.

The tours start from the entrance located upstream, using the Palabione chair lifts, and descends for a short distance.

The visits are open to all but, so as not to disturb the animals in the area, numbers are limited and reservations are mandatory at the Aprica Tourist Office.