The heart of the “Foci dell’Isonzo Nature Reserve” is Cona Island, an ecological niche, habitat of many animal species and known throughout Italy for birdwatching, being inhabited by more than 300 species of birds, resident or migratory. The island can be visited on foot, via 2 routes, of different lengths, with multiple viewpoints. The whole area is populated by hundreds of animal species, which visitors can easily encounter. The most coveted encounter is with Camargue horses, white horses in the wild, gorgeous and accustomed to the presence of humans, whom they allow themselves to be approached by.
Birdwatching and observing animals in their own habitat are a relaxing and healthy way to get close to nature and allow you to totally immerse yourself in the peaceful oasis of this island.
This ecological niche, a paradise for nature photographers, offers the opportunity for everyone, expert and non-expert alike, to observe many animal species and birdlife up close, including through the many observation points.
The food court is also an observation point and has large windows through which to admire, as if it were an aquarium, the habits of birds and mammals.
The fauna at Cona Island is extremely diverse among avian species, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. As you walk along the trail, you may encounter frogs, turtles, foxes, cattle, horses, but mostly birds. The island is an ideal destination for nature photographers, and 341 bird species have been spotted there over the years.
In 2007 Cona Island was recognized as the best area in Italy for birdwatching.
The beautiful horses that graze freely in small herds are Camargue breeds and were introduced to the island in the 1990s as a means of managing pasture and marsh flora. In fact, the Camargue species also feeds on brackish grasses and is able to graze below the water surface. These horses are accustomed to the presence of humans and, upon encountering a small herd, can be photographed without fear.
Visitors who come to Cona Island have the opportunity to see free-roaming animals living out their routines. This benefit is made possible only if humans respect these customs and do not disturb the animals. It is advisable to maintain a discreet presence, a low tone of voice and not approach the animals, who would immediately flee upon identifying danger, take photos from a distance and take advantage of the many vantage points that allow you to quietly contemplate the wonders of this island.
Cona Island is home to many animal species, which can be encountered all along the way, and especially the 341 species of birds, whether resident or migratory. Viewpoints provide privileged views of local birdlife. These are sheds or panels equipped with slits that encourage observation of the surrounding environment without disturbing the animals that inhabit it.
Observation points are located along the route and are always marked by signs. There are 11 in total, 4 of which are reserved for daily rental by birdwatchers and wildlife photographers.
The Al pettirosso refreshment stand is also to be considered a stop on the visit. Stopping even for a coffee, one can contemplate the different animal species from the tables behind the large window. It is a prime vantage point over what appears almost like a natural swimming pool, a freshwater pond teeming with animals and birds. Around the water can already be seen the first horses .
The bar/restaurant offers hot and cold dishes and the possibility of buying sandwiches to take away.
The environmental restoration of this protected area that has taken place since the 1990s has been carried out following specific criteria that have increased both species richness and observation points.
The equipped footpath, has made this world-class site of scientific and naturalistic interest accessible to everyone, even the youngest children, through two routes of different lengths and difficulties.
Both routes are easy and suitable for everyone, but they differ markedly in length. The loop trail consists of 2 km of easy road with a beaten surface. The route to the mouths is 6 km, is on sun beat and the road surface is often muddy. For young children, the short loop trail is suitable.
The island can be visited year-round, but, for those who do not have visitation needs related to the breeding or migratory periods of poultry species, spring and fall are recommended as the best time to visit. Also, it is recommended to avoid going there after rains as the ground becomes muddy making it necessary to wear boots.
Comfortable clothing and footwear that can get dirty are recommended. Don’t forget water, sunscreen and a hat, especially if you plan to walk the entire route to Punta Spigolo, in total sunstroke. It is also recommended to carry insect repellent.
Cona Island is open every day, except Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to sunset.
Reservations are required for groups only.
A few meters from the parking lot is the ticket office/visitor center. The entrance fee is 5 euros. A clear map of the island and information is provided with respect to the visit, species present and recent sightings, behavior norms and interactions with animals.
Near the ticket office is the bar-restaurant Al Pettirosso, with an upstairs museum area in which to learn more about land and biodiversity issues, a children’s play area, and restrooms. The bar’s closing day is Thursday.
For those who are interested, the Visitor Center offers canoe tours or Camargue horse approach activities. In addition, the island has a lodge with overnight accommodations in rooms for 2 to 6 people, with shared bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen.
A useful and instructive activity is the periodic cleaning of the island organized by the associations. Storm surges conduct a large amount of trash and plastic material all along the embankment, which needs regular cleaning operations. To offer help and find information, one can visit the island’s Facebook page.
From the provincial road leading to Grado, follow the road signs to Cona Island. You can leave your car in the first large parking lot, along the road or in the parking lot adjacent to the Visitor Center.
An unforgettable experience is to reach L’isola della Cona by bicycle via the Adriatic Ciclovia that runs along the course of the Isonzo River towards Grado. Tourist routes to Aquileia and Palmanova via the Alpe Adria bicycle path depart from here.
The island can only be visited on foot.
Cona Island is a place of peace and tranquility where it is possible to observe animals and their habits without the passage of man restricting their customs. Therefore, it is necessary to stay on the trail at all times, speak softly, do not approach or disturb native wildlife, do not leave litter, do not damage vegetation, etc.
Less than half an hour from the island, the seaside town of Grado is recommended. At the same distance is unmissable a visit to the archaeological site of Aquileia. The Cavanata Valley Nature Reserve is also very beautiful.
Dogs are allowed on Cona Island only if they are led on a leash.
Through this section you can contact the Soča Mouths Nature Reserve visitor center. Explorer FVG does not handle responses, nor is it responsible for the information exchanged in these conversations.
34079 Staranzano (GO)
Office hours for information
11 a.m. – 4 p.m., (closed on Thursdays)
Manager: Rogos Soc. Coop.
The contents of this page are protected from reproduction and copying with a digital certificate