Extending over 1,925 square kilometres, the Pollino National Park is the largest nature park in Italy.
Distinctive yet varied landscapes make up the territory of the Park, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
This specially protected area encompasses the Pollino and Orsomarso Massifs and has some of the highest peaks in southern Italy which are covered with snow for large periods of the year. From its highest peaks, which are over two thousand metres above sea level, you will be bowled over by the breath-taking panorama that extends from the Tyrrhenian coast of Maratea, Praia a Mare and Belvedere Marittimo to the Ionian coast from Sibari to Metaponto.
The Pollino Park benefits from unspoilt landscapes that are closely tied to the cultural and human values carefully preserved by the local population, making these places unique and fascinating corners of paradise.
The park is home to forests made up of a wide variety of tree species such as holm oak, oak, silver fir, beech, maple, black pine and chestnut. However, the main protagonist and emblem of the park is the Loricato Pine, a species that can adapt to the most challenging habitats and which can only be found in the Balkans and Italy.
It is predominantly located in the mountains, where it replaces the common beech tree as it adapts particularly well to colder and windy environments. The bark of the older trees splits into trapezoidal shapes that resemble ancient Roman shields, hence the Italian name loricato (loricate in English).
The Park also contains the oldest tree in Europe, a loricato pine aged around 1,230 years old.
The park is traversed by many waterways surrounded by the deep gorges and wide valleys that characterise the area. It is the perfect environment to try your hand at activities like rafting, canyoning and canoeing thanks to the many professional companies operating throughout the area.
For those that prefer sports on land, the area offers many opportunities for trekking, hiking and mountain biking in the heart of a beautiful natural setting.
The Park is well-known for its abundance of medicinal herbs throughout the area thanks to its perfectly preserved ecological system that creates the ideal environment for them to flourish.
If you visit in spring, you will be able to relish the sight of orchids, violets, gentians and bluebells in bloom. Meanwhile, in summer, you may catch a glimpse of the very rare red lily, as well as countless species of medicinal and aromatic plants, and those from the Labiatae family such as various species of mint and all the varieties of thyme, savory, lavender and hyssop. These come into full bloom at the height of summer to give the landscape a delicate patchwork of colours and shades.
In terms of animal species, the Park is one of the most important natural areas in the whole of southern Italy as can be seen from its varied fauna, which includes many species that did not survive in other mountainous areas. Some of the animal species that inhabit the park include the golden eagle, the black woodpecker, the golden owl, the common raven, the peregrine falcon, the Apennine wolf, and the roe deer which is native to Orsomarso, as well as numerous other types of deer, and griffons.
The park’s particular climate has led to the formation of huge forests of beech and silver fir trees, with certain areas that are difficult to explore and others that are perfect to visit with family and children.
The peak of Serra Dolcedorme, measuring 2,267 metres, is the highest peak in the park from which, on sunny days, you can gaze out across the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas. The Grotte Delle Ninfe a Cerchiara (Caves of the Nymphs in Cerchiara), is a natural thermal pool with mineral-rich waters and excellent mud for skin treatments.
In Papasidero two must-visit attractions include the Sanctuary of Madonna di Costantinopoli, which looks as though it has come straight from the pages of a fairy tale, and the archaeological site of the Romito Caves, 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 period to the Neolithic age and displays numerous examples of rock art, including the Bos Primigenius, a bull figure with perfectly defined features.
Morano Calabro, with its ancient walls, history and numerous churches housing important and valuable religious objects, is also well worth a visit and is the perfect opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the region’s art and culture.
Acquaformosa, Aieta, Alessandria del Carretto, Belvedere Marittimo, Buonvicino, Castrovillari, Cerchiara di Calabria, Civita, Francavilla Marittima, Frascineto, Grisolia, Laino Borgo, Laino Castello, Lungro (Ungra), Maierà, Morano Calabro, Mormanno, Mottafollone, Orsomarso, Papasidero, Plataci, Praia a Mare, San Basile, San Donato di Ninea, San Lorenzo Bellizzi, San Sosti, Sangineto, Santa Domenica Talao, Sant'Agata d'Esaro, Saracena, Tortora, Verbicaro.
Santa Maria della Consolazione
85048 Rotonda (PZ)
Phone: 0973 669311