Calabria’s Sila plateau lies between the provinces of Cosenza, Crotone and Catanzaro.
The establishment of the park has helped protect the area’s treasures including its diverse landscapes, wide variety of animal and plant species and beautiful surroundings.
It is the oldest national park in Calabria and one of the 5 oldest national parks in the whole of Italy. From its captivating wild and unspoilt nature to its impressive villages, its second to none hospitality and the variety of outdoors sports on offer, the area has something for everyone. Regardless of the time of year, visitors will be pleasantly surprised by this amazing region of a thousand resources.
The park is home to one of Italy’s most important areas of biodiversity which deserves to be cherished and, more importantly, protected. The symbol of the Park is the wolf, a species that has been poached in Italy for centuries. Fortunately, the species managed to survive until 1970 when a law was passed for its conservation.
Currently, the protected area of the park is a candidate for inclusion in the list of UNESCO Global Geoparks.
Visitors will be in awe of the park's unspoilt areas hidden off the beaten track and its grandiose historical panoramas that change with the altitude and the seasons to create a magical atmosphere. Its wonderful contrasts and harmonious combinations of colours and tones are truly a sight for sore eyes. In the park you can admire the so-called “patriarchi vegetali” (botanical heritage), which includes mosses, lichens, grasses, ferns, shrubs, creepers, colourful flowers and a myriad of animals, the true symbols of biodiversity and carriers of a unique genetic heritage. Extraordinary trees live in harmony with their surroundings as they regulate the climate, embellish the landscape, defend the soil and protect water reserves.
About 80% of the total area of the Park is made up of woodland, representing the highest percentage in Italy. Sheep-farming is practised in the wide valleys extending out from the Park’s mountainous ridges where livestock are moved between mountain pastures with the changing of the seasons. The region’s agriculture is also heavily focussed on the cultivation of Sila IGP potatoes.
The Park is also the ideal habitat for numerous species of wildlife, partly thanks to a repopulation policy that has enriched the environment.
The wolf, a species that has been poached for centuries, is the symbol of the Park. The wolf species that inhabits the Sila National Park is the Apennine wolf, with the scientific name of Canis lupus subsp italicus. It lives in packs of about 3 or 4 individuals but, unfortunately, there are only around twenty wolves remaining in Sila.
The Park contains nine biogenetic nature reserves.
Among these are the Giants of Fallistro, 50 colossal pine trees and 5 mountain maple trees aged over 500 years old, and the Goliath-Corvo reserve, an area home to around 150 deer.
During the summer and autumn months, visitors can enjoy excursions in the woods of the Park, often referred to as the green lung of Calabria, which is the perfect place for a trek, perhaps even over several days. In many areas you can rent bicycles or venture out on horseback along the many paths surrounded by nature.
In popular tourist destinations such as Villaggio Mancuso, which are situated just a stone’s throw from lakes and watercourses including the Ampollino, Cecita and Arvo lakes, visitors can practise rowing and sport fishing and can rent canoes, pedal boats and various other small boats.
Sila is also one of the best areas in Southern Italy for winter sports. The villages of Lorica, Camigliatello and Ciricilla are equipped with ski lifts for access to the downhill and cross-country ski runs.
Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can enjoy the numerous well-equipped bobsleigh tracks, such as the one in Villaggio Palumbo, which can also be used during the summer months.
In Cupone, near Lake Cecita, you can admire both the characteristic larch pine, including a few truly monumental specimens, as well as areas of wide open pasture. One of the Park's visitor centres is located in Cupone in an old sawmill that has been converted into an environmental education centre with nature trails, wildlife observatories, a museum and a geological garden.
Near the centre is a wonderful picnic area as well as an unmissable charming Botanical Garden. The Garden is accessible to the disabled and blind as it is equipped with panels and mp3 audio files that reveal the secrets of the various species. The educational trail is 350 metres long and allows visitors to discover as many as 115 native species of Calabrian mountain flora, each with its own Braille information card.
Orienteering is another of the park’s main leisure activities. You can also try your hand at sailing or canoeing in Lake Arvo or Ampollino. Surrounded by the stunning scenery of Lake Ariamacina you can have a go at archery or sit back and birdwatch or admire the park's biodiversity. Alternatively, why not delight your tastebuds with a visit to one of the numerous Open Farms?
A land of ancient traditions, Sila has also preserved many of the flavours of the past which are an important aspect of its cuisine. One dish you must try (in a mountain hut, naturally) is ‘mpanata, a typical local stuffed bread made with ricotta cheese, warm whey and pieces of hard bread.
Among all the towns within the Park, we must mention Camigliatello Silano, a typical mountain village equipped with accommodation facilities, bars and restaurants, as well as a large ski resort which is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Acri, Albi, Aprigliano, Bocchigliero, Celico, Corigliano, Cotronei, Longobucco, Magisano, Mesoraca, Pedace, Petilia, Petronà, San Giovanni in Fiore, Savelli, Serra Pedace, Sersale, Spezzano Piccolo, Spezzano della Sila, Taverna, Zagarise
87055 Lorica di San Giovanni in Fiore (Cs)
Phone: 0984 537109