Valli Cupe Regional Park

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© M. Guzzo

Reserves and marine areas

The Valli Cupe Regional Park is located near Sersale, in the Presila of Catanzaro, in an area of great natural interest. The area includes waterfalls and canyons, ancient trees, botanical rarities and monoliths.
With enchanting waterfalls set in unspoilt surroundings, canyons that conceal unexpected treasures of biodiversity, breathtaking views of gorges and precipices that drop hundreds of metres, fascinating waterfalls and crystal-clear streams, numerous monumental trees and a wealth of flora and fauna of the highest value, the Park deserves a prominent place among the natural beauties of the Italian peninsula.

The park is not very well known, but its beauty has earned it the title of "Europe's best kept secret" by Belgian naturalist John Bouquet.

The territory of the Park lies between the municipalities of Sersale and Zagarise, a stone's throw from the Ionian Sea and the Sila National Park. It contains naturalistic treasures, ancient villages and abandoned places, panoramic viewpoints, traditions, myths and legends of the lost city of Barbaro, about a hundred waterfalls, seven canyons, monoliths and centuries-old trees with more than thirty walkable paths.

The Valli Cupe Canyon, the only one of its kind in Europe, houses the extremely rare bulbiferous fern, a living fossil whose species dates back 350 million years and lived during the age of the dinosaurs.
The route you take to get to the Canyon is the path that connected four Basilian monasteries until the ninth century, the remains of which can now be seen: Santa Maria della Sana, one of the fifteen most important monasteries in Calabria, San Giorgio, San Lorenzo and San Basile.
Descending towards the bottom of the valley, in the wood there are typical plants of the Mediterranean maquis, such as the manna tree, the mastica tree, from which the first chewing gum was extracted, and the ciofeca tree.
The Canyon is 8 km long and more than 60 million years old: in addition to being the second largest in Europe, its geomorphological conformation makes its environment unique and unrivalled in Italy.

The Crocchio Gorges and the Waterfall are located outside the urban centre of Sersale and before reaching the gorges one crosses a centuries-old chestnut wood. Near the waterfall, it is possible to look out from the Balcony of Arocha, the nymph who, according to legend, was transformed into the River Corace for some, and into the River Crocchio for others.
The waterfalls and pools of water are very inviting for a refreshing dip on hot days.
The Campanaro Waterfall, like the Gole del Crocchio, is one of the waterfalls that can be easily reached even on your own. The waterfall is 22 metres high, and the purity of its waters can be seen in the presence of red algae.
The Inferno Waterfall, at 27 metres high, is embedded in a small canyon that forms a water opening almost five metres deep. Legend has it that this well reaches all the way to Hell, from which the waterfall takes its name.

Equally imposing and numerous are the monoliths, which creep up the wild slopes of the Calabrian forest, the Mediterranean forest par excellence, and form a small unknown universe of irresistible charm.

The Petra Aggìallu Monolith (Bird Stone) is an imposing monolith, about 18 metres high, whose shape resembles the profile of a bird's head. A rich oral memory is linked to this natural monument. It is said, in fact, that a rich treasure is kept under the imposing rock. There is also another popular tale, according to which a hen with a brood of golden chicks can be found around the monolith.
The Misorbo Monolith, about 18 metres high, is made up of two different granite units placed one on top of the other, separated from each other by a fracture dating back to remote times. Seen from below, the larger unit brings to mind a human profile facing the valley of the Campanaro stream.

The Valli Cupe Reserve is home to ancient chestnut trees, including the Gigante Buono, which is almost 500 years old and has a circumference of over 8 metres, and the Giganti di Cavallopoli, which takes its name from the nearby waterfall, with the Gigante Malandrino, which has a circumference of about 7 metres.

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Ultimo aggiornamento: Sep 25, 2023 3:36 PM