Pollino National Park
The wider italian National Park
The Pollino National Park is the largest protected area, newly established (1993), on the national territory. It covers 192,565 hectars and embraces two regions: Calabria and Basilicata, involving 32 Calabrian municipalities and 24 Lucanian municipalities for a total resident population of 170 thousand inhabitants. The symbol of the Park is represented by the Loricato Pine (Pinus leucodermis), a glacial relict which has its place of origin in the Balkans and which is perched in imposing and twisted forms on the rocky ridges especially at high altitudes.
The wide territory ranges from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Ionian Sea and is the guardian of its riches such as the Loricato Pine, the golden eagle and the roe deer. The Park consists of three different mountain systems with a calcareous morphology typical of the Mediterranean mountains. In the centre is the "Massiccio del Pollino" with peaks of about 2300 metres. At about 2000 meters we find the "Grande Porta" that leads to the "Piani del Pollino" (Pollino Plains) on whose ridges stand majestic examples of loricate pine trees that dominate an area rich in watercourses that flow towards the sea through gorges between high and narrow rock walls. The "Massiccio del Pollino" is separated from the "Monti dell'Orsomarso" (south-west) by the "Piano di Campotenese". The Mountains are characterized by thick vegetation and introduce the beautiful valleys carved by watercourses such as the Argentino river, the Lao river, etc.. In the northern part of the Park we find the "Monte Alpi "(1900 meters) which differs from the "Orsomarso Mountains" and the "Massiccio del Pollino" for its different geological origin. The territory of the Park is characterized by river systems of great value both for the richness of the rivers and springs and for the quality of the ecosystems. The most important river basin on the Lucanian side is surely represented by the Sinni river, while on the Calabrian side it is the Lao river, which originates in Basilicata and takes the name Mercure, but immediately after its confluence with the Battendiero river it changes its name to Lao. The latter for its great naturalistic value can be considered one of the healthiest rivers in southern Italy.
From the point of view of fauna, the area of the Pollino National Park is one of the most important in Italy for the great wealth of species and zoological peculiarities dictated, in addition to the variety of environments, the geographical position. There are rich species belonging to insects, crustaceans and amphibians, among which we can mention the Italian crested newt and the Spectacled salamander (amphibians), the crayfish (crustaceans), Rosalia alpina and Buprestis splendens (insects).
No less important is the birdlife present. Among the many species we find the Partridge and the Black Woodpecker. Twelve species of diurnal birds of prey are present, including the Golden Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, the Cape Cowpecker, etc.. Among the mammals we find families of Wolf and Otter whose presence has been detected along the waterways where there is an abundance of prey and a good degree of plant cover.
The vegetation is distinguished by the great richness of the species present that testify the variety and vastness of the territory and the different climatic conditions that influence it; some local species and the presence of rare plant associations, make the area of the Pollino Park unique in the whole Mediterranean. In the facsia up to 700-800 m prevails the Mediterranean maquis with the presence of holm oak (Quercus ilex), mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), juniper (Juniperus communis, Juniperus oxycedrus, Juniperus phoenicea), myrtle (Myrtus communis), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), downy oak (Quercus pubescens), maple (Acer monspessulanum) and common broom (Spartium junceum). Over 800 m up to 1100 m dominating the different varieties of oaks, downy oak (Quercus pubescens), turkey oak (Quercus cerris), oak (Quercus frainetto) often living together or in mixed forests with oriental hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), maple (Acer obtusatum), chestnut (Castanea sativa), Neapolitan alder (Alnus cordata). In the mountain range, up to almost 2000 m, beech (Fagus sylvatica) prevails, pure or in mixed formations with chestnut, Turkey oak and maple. At lower altitudes, beech is accompanied by holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Hungarian maple; at higher altitudes and in a gorge environment, it is accompanied by Lobel maple and, mainly on the northern side of the Park, beech gives rise to the particular association with silver fir (Abies alba), a conifer present in a discontinuous way in the Apennines. Up to 1700 m there are open formations of black pine (Pinus nigra). What distinguishes and makes the mountain vegetation of Pollino unique is certainly the Loricato Pine (Pinus leucodermis), symbol of the Park. Arrived in the Calabrian-Lucanian area in ancient times, it is present in the high mountain range, up to 2200 m, on the peaks of Pollino and goes down exceptionally up to 550 m on the south-western side of the Park. The bark of this conifer is pale grey, especially in the young plants, hence the name "leucodermis"; in the adult specimens the bark is fissured in irregular plates, so-called "loriche", which recall the ancient Roman armour. In the Park there are 4 Oriented Nature Reserves already existing before the establishment of the Park (Lao River Valley, Raganello Gorge, Argentino River Valley, Rubbio) and 41 Sites of Community Importance (SCI), areas belonging to the European Natura 2000 network for the protection of habitats and species pi6ugrave; at risk in Europe. There are also 5 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for the protection of birds. The isolated peaks are contrasted by the solitary and small villages that make up the anthropic landscape.
The territory is characterized by the presence of nuclei with culture, language and traditions arbëreshe (italo Albanian) then visit the Pollino Park becomes an opportunity to learn about different aspects including nature that for some aspects can be considered wild, different cultures and uses, discover a protected area aimed at enhancing its resources offering visitors countless opportunities to enjoy a wonderful holiday.