The Pollino National Park
Pollino National Park is Italy’s largest national park, covering 1960 square kilometres and bridging the regions of Basilicata and Calabria.
It was established in 1992 and includes both natural and archaeological places of interest. The remarkable scenery ranges from snow-capped peaks to ancient forest. The highest peak is Monte Pollino (2248m), where a climb to the summit will be rewarded with views of both the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts.
The park also protects a number of rare species including the Apennine wolf, wild cats and otters. There are a number of ways to enjoy Pollino National Park: on foot, by bicycle, on horseback, or, for those brave enough, by white water rafting. The park is an ideal location for hiking and offers a mix of stunning views combined with interesting flora and fauna. It is particularly beautiful in the spring but activities like rafting are popular all year round.
You can go to one of several visitor centres to view the many environmental projects which have been set up, such as organic farms and Eco hostels. In the Valle del Mercure, remains of Prehistoric species such as Elephas antiquus (Straight-Tusked Elephant) and Hippopotamus major (an extinct Hippo species) have been discovered. Rivers and streams include the Lao, Sinni, Coscile and Raganello.
The Pollino Park also holds smaller reserves inside it, these include:
Riserva Naturale Rubbio
This is a protected area in the Pollino National Park and has an peculiarly interesting part of the beech and fir woods of the Pollino Massif. It is a nice area to walk through and explore, with many types of bird and wildlife.
Riserva Nat. Area Piú Alta del Massiccio del Pollino
This is a protected area at the centre of the Pollino National Park, and is one of the most famous spots in the park to visit, being home to the Pollino massif which reaches heights of around 2300m.
Riserva Nat. di Monte La Spina
This natural reserve encompasses Monte La Spina. Near the mountain, but outside the reserve, lies Rotonda Lake which can disappear in the dry season.