With its 1,925 square kilometres of nature, the Pollino National Park is the largest natural park in Italy.
Special landscapes and refined complexity of environments make up the territory of the park, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
The entire area, under special protection, is made up of the Pollino and Orsomarso massifs and features some of the highest peaks in southern Italy, covered in snow for large periods of the year. From its highest peaks, which are over two thousand metres above sea level, it is possible to embrace a wide panorama that goes from the Tyrrhenian coast of Maratea, Praia a Mare and Belvedere Marittimo to the Ionian coast from Sibari to Metaponto.
The Pollino Park is home to unspoilt landscapes that, together with the cultural and human values jealously guarded by the local population, make these places unique and incredibly fascinating corners of paradise.
In the park there are many natural environments, showing numerous tree species such as holm oak, oak, silver fir, beech, maple, black pine and chestnut forests. The great protagonist and symbol of the park is the Loricate Pine, a species that adapts to the most difficult habitats and is only found in the Balkans and Italy. It is found mainly in the mountains, where it replaces the common beech as it is excellent at adapting to colder and windier environments. The bark of the older trees is divided into trapezoidal plates reminiscent of ancient Roman armour, hence the name loricato.
The Park is home to the oldest tree in Europe, a loricate pine about 1,230 years old.
There are many waterways in the park, with deep gorges and wide valleys that characterise the area and where it is also possible to do sports such as rafting, canyoning and canoeing, thanks to the many professional operators active in the area.
Nature sports for enthusiasts, such as trekking, hiking and mountain biking, are also practised in the area.
The park is renowned for the presence of numerous medicinal herbs, which thrive thanks to the quality of the land, still based on an unchanged ecological system that creates an ideal situation for their proliferation.
In spring it is customary to enjoy the spectacle of orchids in bloom, along with violets and gentians, bellflowers and, in summer, the rare red lily, as well as countless species of medicinal and aromatic plants, including the Labiatae, with many species of mint and all varieties of thyme, savory, lavender, hyssop, whose blooms explode at the height of summer in a delicate combination of colours and shades.
From a fauna point of view, the park area is one of the most important in the whole of southern Italy, thanks to its varied fauna, which includes many species that have not survived in other mountainous areas. Among others, there are the golden eagle, the black woodpecker, the eagle owl, the raven, the peregrine falcon, the Apennine wolf and the native Orsomarso roe deer, as well as various examples of deer and griffon vultures.
Thanks to the particular climate, huge forests of beech and silver fir have formed in the park, with areas that are difficult to explore and others that are worth visiting with the family and children.
The peak of Serra Dolcedorme, at 2,267 metres, is the highest peak in the park and on sunny days you can see the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas from its peaks. The Grotte Delle Ninfe in Cerchiara, is a natural thermal pool with mineral-rich waters and mud that is excellent for skin treatments.
In Papasidero, a must-see is the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Costantinopoli, which looks like a fairytale fortress, and above all the archaeological site of the Grotte del Romito, one of the oldest and most important prehistoric sites in Italy. The cave was used as a dwelling and burial place from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Neolithic and has numerous examples of rock art, including the Bos Primigenius, a figure of a bull with perfectly defined features.
It is worth mentioning Morano Calabro, which, with its ancient walls, history and numerous churches with religiously significant objects of value, represents a great opportunity for a visit of great artistic and cultural value.
Strada Provinciale 28 Calabra, 12, Cosenza