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Sila National Park it is, among the Italian national parks, the one with the highest percentage of surface covered by woodland. It is close to 80%, but comes third if we evaluate the chronological order of the foundations of the parks in Calabria. First there are the Pollino National Park and the Aspromonte National Park.
The Sila National Park was established in 1997, it was conceived as an idea in the 1920s and by decree of the President of the Republic it became official on November 14, 2002. Due to its wealth of heritage, both fauna and flora, it has become the tithe Italian Biosphere Reserve in the World Network of the sites of excellence ofUNESCO.
Sila National Park: where it is located
The Sila National Park it extends with an elongated north-south shape for 73,695, occupying the heart of the Sila. Its headquarters are located in Lorica but the perimeter of this park embraces three of the five Calabrian provinces, those of Catanzaro, Cosenza and Crotone.
Within the area of Sila National Park there are all three regions of Sila (Sila Greca, Sila Grande, Sila Piccola): this time 3 out of 3, not 3 out of 5! Among these, the Sila Grande and the Piccola are the two most involved in the protective embrace of the park which, on the other hand, in the Sila Greca area, was able to take with it only the areas of greatest naturalistic interest.
Given also the recognition of UNESCO, we can trust: in Sila National Park there is one of the most significant biodiversity systems, in addition we find 3 of the 6 artificial basins present on the Silan plateau. The forest dominates a large part of the extension of the Park and for the most part we find beech and pine forests of the typical Silano pine, the Laricio. There is no shortage of wide valleys and these are the kingdom of pastoralism, the potato of the Sila I.G.P is also grown here.
Sila National Park: what to see
So many animals and so many plants, trees and flowers, to lose your head. To make the point there are points ... of reference. For example the two visitor centers, Cupone and Antonio Garcea. Another interesting stop may be the museums, which are very modern and useful for better understanding what is around us, once immersed in the Sila National Park. There is one on the Sila forests and another on "man and the forests".
Do not miss the area of Camigliatello Silano: here is a view from Monte Curcio ...
In a place like the Sila National Park Orienteering is also excellent, thanks to the presence of various basins, there is also the offer of sailing and canoeing trips to Lake Arvo and Ampollino, for the most reckless, always being on the water, canyoning and canyoning. As a leisure activity, but surrounded by beautiful nature, there are, for example, Archery and Bio and bird watching, at the Ariamacina lake, or an instructive and tasty visit to the many Open Farms.
Finally, so to speak, there are two places in the park settlement centers, Golia Corvo and Poverella Villaggio Mancuso. More than what to see, given that there is a lot to see, natural, green, animalistic, let's ask ourselves how. And there is no shortage of opportunities, indeed, indecision is a danger. There are mountain biking, trekking, horseback riding and even the chance to go skiing. Both with cross-country and downhill skis.
Here, for example, is a photo of the Val di Tacina - Taverna, perfect for walks suitable for everyone!
Sila National Park: flora and fauna
They are both rich and varied in Sila National Park. Let's start with the animals. Their presence has profoundly changed over time and we certainly have a hand in it, especially in recent years, with regard to some mammals, especially large ones. The habitat variations that we have induced have penalized the deer, extinct at the beginning of the last century and reintroduced only in recent years.
In general, however, the area of the Sila National Park it was and remains a kingdom for animals: since the first draft of the Park - we are in 1923 - the area was considered one of the wildest in Italy and the richest in fauna in the whole south. Moving on to the flora, this park offers an overview of the vast range of plants and flowers granted by the orography and morphology of the Sila area. In addition to the Apennine aspects, there are also many Alpine aspects that only enrich it already wide floral spectrum.
The plant and floral heritage of the Sila National Park therefore it shows itself as diversified as few others, but unfortunately also marked by the action of man who, by using wood and the valleys for grazing, has profoundly changed it. The vegetation can be observed and, if desired, studied, based on its altitude ranges, also taking into account the altitude and climate. From time to time it is we can meet typical species of valley, river, mountain and sub-mountain habitats.
Sila National Park: the wolf
The wolf is the symbol of the park, but also a looted for centuries. In fact, it barely managed to survive until 1970, then was able, almost, to breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the law in favor of its protection. The wolf of the Sila National Park is the Apennine wolf said Canis lupus subsp italicus, lives in flocks made up of 3 - 4 individuals each, but in the whole area there are no more than twenty specimens on the whole Sila.
In addition to being the symbol of the park, it is considered by experts to be the most important predator of the woods of the Apennines and the Calabrian mountains. Since it has been protected by law, the wolf, a little more serene, is slowly proliferating throughout the Italian territory thanks to the promotion of reintroduction plans of some species of prey preferred by the wolf. We are talking about deer and roe deer, above all.
Sila National Park: how to get there
To the Sila National Park you can get there by car, train, bus and plane. I I recommend the train, if possible: let it be the first possibility you consider. The choices on the tracks are not lacking, there are the stations of Paola, Lamezia Terme, Catanzaro and Crotone as the main centers from which to leave for the Sila, with the narrow-gauge train of the Ferrovie della Calabria (Cosenza-Catanzaro and vice versa). Then continue with the steam locomotive, an already spectacular journey in itself.
It is easy also reachable by car, both from the Ionian area, along the S.S. 106, both from the Tyrrhenian, on the S.S. 18. The exits are always those of Cosenza, Rogliano, Altilia Grimaldi and further south of Lamezia Terme. To get to the Silan area, there are the S.S. 107 Silano-Crotone, ideally equidistant from both the Greca, Grande and Piccola Sila, or the Supestrada 280 dei Due Mari. Further south also the S.S. 281 in Rosarno offers another opportunity for those who really don't want to give up the car.
To the bus one often and willingly relies on it to complete the routes and during the summer period, from the Ionian coast with daily life, but also from the Tyrrhenian one, there are both scheduled and private ones that climb up in Sila. For those arriving from far away, sometimes the plane is unavoidable: from Milan and Turin it is a matter of a couple of hours, less from Rome and Bologna.
The airports to reach for the Sila National Park are that of Lamezia Terme on the Tyrrhenian side and that of Crotone S.Anna on the Ionian side.
Sila National Park: cupone and its botanical garden
Cupone, in Sila National Park it is located near Lake Cecita, in the municipality of Spezzano della Sila. In the area you can admire both the typical larch pine, with its monumental specimens still alive, and grazing areas, "bare" or almost. One of the visitor centers of the Sila National Park , born from a sawmill converted to an environmental education center with nature trails, wildlife observatories, museum and geological garden.
Near the center, a pleasant picnic area along the Cecita lake, but there is also a wonderful botanical garden that you cannot fail to yield. It is also accessible to the disabled and the blind, equipped with panels and mp3 audio files that tell those who want to listen to the secrets of the various essences.
The educational path is 350 meters, with wooden sleepers bordered by a fence with handrail: proceeding you can interact with 115 native species of Calabrian mountain flora, each with its own Braille card. L'Botanical Garden of the Sila National Park it covers over 10 thousand square meters, at the entrance there is also a model of the entire air, made of marble, to give us an idea of what awaits us.
The help files can be downloaded from the internet, in site of the State Forestry Corps, and tell the botanical characteristics, ecology, uses, contraindications and many small curiosities of the species of the Botanical Garden.
Sila National Park: map
For the botanical garden there is the model, for the Sila National Park better a map, complete, to think about your visit and not skip any excursion that we might regret.
Sila National Park: official site
The site of the Sila National Park it is a great way to remotely become familiar with this beautiful Calabrian naturalistic reality. You will find basic information, but also creative and tasty ideas, about the park and the whole territory, both naturalistically speaking and culturally. Traditions and history, and legends, are intertwined with science, biology and geography. I recommend visiting both the park and the official site.
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