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Nature & adventure

Pollino National Park

The kingdom of the Pino Loricato

Your extraordinary journey into discovering the natural landscapes crossed by the Parks’ cycle network starts in the Pollino and Orsomarso massifs, which are listed among the highest peaks in Southern Italy. Here you’ll have the chance to admire the Heldreich’s pine (Pino Loricato) which grows here, clinging onto steep limestone rocks. This pine is the symbol of the Pollino National Park, which features the most ancient living tree in Europe: Italus, a 1230-year-old Heldreich’s pine! This area boasts 75 geological sites, which became members of the global network of UNESCO geoparks in 2015. The park’s high peaks offer a typical mountain scenery, which gradually opens up to the ancient land of Siritide, which in the past belonged to ancient Greece and today is caressed by the Ionian Sea. The varied morphology of the Pollino Park has shaped a territory where dolomitic ridges give way to dense forests and sharp canyons, which are crossed by raging rivers and torrents and house a precious wetland: the Tarsia lake reserve, populated by birds of prey and migratory birds. Trekking, rafting, canyoning, free climbing, mountain biking, trail riding, horse riding and adventure parks are just a few of the endless activity holidays that the Pollino National Park offer its visitors throughout the year, in a habitat that is considered one of the richest in biodiversity worldwide.
Sila National park

The great woodland of Italy

As you ride southward, you arrive at one the most important biosphere reserves listed among the UNESCO world heritage sites: the Sila National Park. Known historically as the “Great woodland of Italy” - as most of the wood intended for the building sites and craftsman's workshops of ancient Greece came from this area - this nature preserve is entirely covered in ancient woods and forests. The area is characterised by a rich aquifer that converges in three artificial lakes, that make the landscape even more extraordinary: the Cecita, Arvo and Ampollino lake. The Ariamacina lakes are smaller stretches of water of equal beauty. The Park boasts nine biogenetic nature reserves. One of the most important is the “Giganti della Sila” (Giants of the Sila) reserve in Fallistro. The most peculiar tree species is the black pine (Pinus nigra) of Calabria, which grows together with beech trees, silver firs, oaks, chestnuts, maple trees and lime trees. Wolves, which are the most common animals in this area, move stealthily across the thick woodlands. Here you can enjoy a wide range of sports and outdoor activities: adventure parks, trips, orienteering, sailing and canoeing, archery, bird-watching, sled dog racing, cross-country and downhill skiing, on tracks that are accessible also through the famous steam train of the Sila, with its wagons that seem to be travelling through time.
serre regional natural park

Nature and spirituality

The Parks cycle network extends southward up to the Serre regional nature preserve. The Serre is a group of mountains covered in thick forests and surrounded by a vast plateau that gradually slopes down to the Ionian Sea, to the east, and descends towards the Messina’s river basin, to the west. The central stretch, instead, is characterised by the wide valleys of Ancinale (with the ancient village of Serra San Bruno), Mongiana and Lacina, which are ancient underground lakes dating back to the Quaternary. This area boasts many water sources and streams, which suddenly become raging torrents and, over the years, have created narrow and deep gorges downstream and some spectacular rainfalls as the ones in Marmarico and Assi. This stunning spectacle of nature is made even more beautiful by the majestic rock scenery of mounts Mammicomito and Consolino, where the mineral used by the foundry and weapons’ factory in Ferdinandea and Mongiana was extracted. To the east lies the Stilaro torrent’s valley, surrounded by the wonderful Stilo woodland. The nature reserve of Angitola Lake offers breathtaking natural wonders for bird-lovers and birdwatchers. The Serre nature preserve is the ideal location to challenge yourself with outdoor activities and adventure parks.
aspromonte national park

The mystery of the big stones

Past the Serre reserve, the cycle network arrives at the Aspromonte national park, which overlooks the two seas that borders Calabria, as well as the Strait of Messina and Sicily. With over 1500 species, the park’s flora has no equal. Among the rarest ones, it is worth mentioning the chain fern (Woodwardia radicans), which is a living relic from the Tertiary Period. At low altitudes, the landscape is marked by lush Mediterranean maquis and holm oak forests. The beech forest of Monte Scorda and Zervò is one of the most fascinating. There are eighty-nine sites of geological interest, which applied to become members of the UNESCO Global Geoparks network, including: the valley of the Great Stones, with the wonderful Pietra Cappa (a monolith, symbol of the Aspromonte Park); the dolomitic landscape of the Canolo; the Mundu and Galasia rainfalls; the marine and continental terraces and the Fiumare valleys. The local fauna is extremely rich and boasts, besides the wolf, many rare species such as the little forest dormouse, the Hermann's tortoise and the Rosalia longicorn, as well as many migratory birds, birds of prey and storks, which can be observed from a roof terrace at Piani d’Aspromonte. Here you can walk, hike, ride a horse and enjoy many other outdoor activities all year round, even in the adventure parks. The park is also the ideal location for winter sports enthusiasts thanks to a variety of ski resorts.
Visitor centres, observatories, ecomuseums

The parks’ habitats

If you are eager to learn more about the parks’ natural habitats, you can go to one of the many visitor centres, observatories, ecomuseums, environmental education centres and information points located throughout the protected areas. Among them, it is worth mentioning: the service centre of the Pollino National Park, housed in the historical palace “Palazzo Gallo” in Castrovillari; the visitor centre Cupone, located near the Cecita Lake; the visitor centre of the Museum of Water and Energy, found in the Sila National Park; and, last but not least, the visitor centre “Botanical Museum of Zomaro”, in the town of Cittanova, within the Aspromonte National Park.

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