Sila natural park: discovering Italy's green heart

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Author Alessandro 31 August 2022
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A place suspended between past and present, a green heart in the center of the Calabrian peninsula with varied and unique landscapes. Green lands as far as the eye can see, centuries-old forests populated with pines, larch, maple, fir, oak, and vast plateaus from which to observe the breathtaking panorama.

Recognized by UNESCO as the tenth Italian biosphere reserve, included in the world sites of excellence’s network, the oldest national park in Calabria, Sila National Park boasts a natural heritage whose diversity of the landscapes, variety of animals and plants and beauty of the places, make it the perfect place all year to walk and enjoy the splendid territory.

Villages nestled in the green of the tallest pine trees in Europe and lakes reminiscent of the Scandinavian fjords.

An itinerary between history and nature, in which it is possible to practice a multitude of outdoor activities with an eye to good food, Sila National Park is a corner of paradise for the whole family: a park for all seasons.

Sila National Park

With its one hundred and fifty thousand hectares, Sila National Park extends in Calabria between the provinces of Cosenza, Crotone and Catanzaro. Here you can breathe the cleanest air in Europe.

Sila National Park is the Italian park with the highest percentage of wooded area, about 80% of the total, and it houses one of the most significant biodiversity systems.

Here you can admire mosses and lichens, herbs, ferns, shrubs and vines, polychrome flowers and a myriad of animals, including many rare birds of prey. A paradise for nature lovers and birdwatchers.

A destination for of trekking and mountain bike lovers in spring, in summer populated for the activities on the lakes and along the waterways. The autumn months give its woods a fairytale and magical aura of a thousand golden, orange and reddish shades for unique emotions to foliage lovers, winter transforms it into a great cross-country, downhill and bobsled ski slope and makes it the perfect place for long snowshoe hikes.

Sila national park
Sila national park

The park

The Sila National Park territory is divided into three parts: Sila Greca (Greek Sila), to the north in the province of Cosenza, the central Sila Grande (Great Sila), and Sila Piccola (Little Sila), further south in the Catanzaro area. It includes 19 municipalities, scattered between the provinces of Cosenza, Crotone and Catanzaro.

Sila national park
Sila national park

Sila Grande

Sila Grande is the largest and most forested area.

Known for I Giganti della sila di Fallistro nature reserve - a wood with black pines unique in the world - it boasts the most beautiful mountains of Sila (Monte Botte Donato, Monte Nero, Monte Curcio and Monte Scuro) and the main routes: approx. 31 between historical, archaeological, botanical, religious and gastronomic.

There are three large lakes, all artificial: Cecita, Arvo and Ampollino.

For children, this part of the park offers the mountain paths of Arboreto that lead to the bat house of Fossiata and to the Silavventura Park. History lovers will certainly appreciate Camigliatello Silano, with its archaeological finds now collected in the Sila Museum, and the main ski center in Calabria.

Not to be missed Lorica with its lake Arvo, navigable and perfect for water sports such as rowing and windsurfing.

Lorica and its lake are part of the municipality of San Giovanni in Fiore, the largest inhabited center in Sila, built in the 12th century when the monk Gioacchino da Fiore founded his monastery dedicated to San Giovanni: the Abbey Florense, which still exists today and can be visited.

In addition to the abbey and dozens of noble palaces and churches, San Giovanni in Fiore offers tourists the archaeological site of Iure Vetere.

The legend of the Altar stone

On a sunny plateau just outside the Lorica wood, you can come across a row of large stones of about 200 meters. This formation is called by the locals Pietra dell’Altare (Stone of the Altar) or Sila Stonehenge.

According to them, the name Pietra dell’Altare derives from a mass celebrated on the spot by an expedition of knights, returning from the Crusades, who improvised an altar on a large stone.

Other stories that go back to more ancient times claim the famous rite took place in the presence of Charlemagne.

There are no historical sources that attest to the presence of the Carolingian king on the Silan plateau, but the Altar Stone is located in an area that has the name of Serra di Charlemagne, a name that already appears in a manuscript certifying the place was donated to a monastery by the mother of Frederick II in 1198.

There are several testimonies of travelers who report having experienced strange sensations and particular vibrations in the presence of the boulders.

Sila Piccola

The southern part of the park, from the south of Lake Ampollino to the Valle del Savuto, is occupied by the Sila Piccola.

Between the beautiful mountains Scorciavuoi, Gariglione and Femminamorta the Sila Piccola is a territory suitable for tourists, full of villages and shelters, where the dense woods of chestnut and oak trees alternate with the plateaus.

Between the Gariglione and Scorciavuoi mountains, the extensive meadows and dense silent woods of the Tacina Valley constitute the most intact and solitary of the Silane valleys. Gola del Soleo opens up between the narrow ridges of the Gariglione and Femminamorta mountains, where the roughness of the territory and the darkness of the landscape gave it the deserved name of Manca del Diavolo.

The village of Tiriolo, right at the gates of the Sila Piccola, on a hillock of 600 meters, the watershed of the Amato and Corace rivers, is nicknamed by the locals the two seas town. Almost all its windows overlook the Isthmus of Catanzaro, the narrowest strip of land in Italy: this make you see both the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian Seas in a single panorama.

The privileged position of Tiriolo made it a coveted center by various civilizations. There are archaeological finds from various eras starting from the Neolithic, including the precious collection of traditional clothes kept in the Civic Museum, with examples of Occitan and Arbëreshë weaving.

At an altitude of 1300 meters Sila Piccola hosts a characteristic alpine-style village: Villaggio Mancuso, a reference point for winter excursions together with Villaggio Palumbo.

Sila National Park
Sila National Park

Here there is also the Gariglione Nature Reserve, one of the wildest areas of Calabria, covered by dense forests that will make you forget you are in Southern Italy.

Other important inhabited centers are Zagarise, a medieval town in Norman architecture with the Tower del Guiscardo (a 13th century military tower), the Briganti Caves, the Campanaro’s waterfalls and the Timpe Rosse Canyon.

Immediately outside the park boundaries we find Taverna, a medieval village with splendid religious architecture, Mattia Preti’s birthplace, one of the most important exponents of Neapolitan painting and successful painters of the 17th century. Many of his works can be admired at the Civic Museum of the town

Sila Greca

Less extensive than the other two areas of the park, but the wildest, Sila Greca reaches the fertile plain of Sibari. It owes its name to the close link with Magna Graecia and to the Albanian civilizations that settled there throughout history.

The splendid larch woods and the paths that cross its valleys are more reminiscent of the Alps than the Apennines.

Sila national park
Sila national park

Acri, a village perched around the top of Monte della Noce known as porta della Sila, is one of the most lively and popular places in the Sila.

With ancient monasteries and churches, ruins of the castle of the ancient civilization of the Bruzii and several historic buildings is its most important center.

Castelsilano, not far from Acri, is an area rich in natural springs, which some sulphurous and speleological cavities: the most important is the Cave of Samourì (or Grave Grubbo).

Do not miss the ancient village of Acerenthia with its medieval remains.

Going south, we meet Longobucco, a Byzantine village that still preserves many ancient traditions, told in the local Museum of Silan Crafts.

Finally, Cecita Lake, born from the damming of Mucone river, on whose banks there are several archaeological sites from the Greek-Roman era, such as the uncovered Sanctuary and the prehistoric remains of the San Lorenzo area .

A bit of history

The prehistoric settlement and the first temporary settlements

Investigations by the superintendency for the archaeological heritage of Calabria, which took place in 2004, revealed, near the present artificial lake Cecita, a vast prehistoric settlement datable between the end of the Neolithic (3800 BC) and the beginning of the Eneolithic (3300 BC). Bowls, jars, lithic axes and flint and obsidian blades were found on the site.

Unlike the ancient civilizations of the Itali, the Enotri and the Morgeti, the following peoples, such as the Bruzi, the Greeks and the Romans, never managed to go beyond the first foothills of the plateau.

The Bruzi were the people who managed to exploit the Silane lands the most. They lived in the Sila during the more temperate periods and took refuge there to engage in guerrillas against the Greek colonists.

The Sibaritidi used the Sila as a hunting and herding place, crossing it several times to found colonies in the hilly areas and on the Tyrrhenian coast.

The Sila was seen above all as a large basin for the exploitation of timber and as an inaccessible place that could give hospitality to fleeing peoples. So did Spartacus, who took refuge there before being defeated by Marco Licinius Crassus in the land of Puglia.

From the Middle Ages to the unification of Italy

If until the Middle Ages the populations were unable to create stable urban centers, in 1189 Abbot Gioacchino da Fiore climbed the western slopes of the plateau and founded a large abbey on the eastern ridge.

From the monastery was born in 1500 the town of San Giovanni in Fiore, the first stable urban center built on the Sila over 1000 m.

According to recent studies, the place chosen by Joachim - today referred to as Faradomus - was permanently inhabited a few centuries first by the Lombards and then by Basilian monks, who built some rock settlements here.

From the arrival in Sila of the Florense monks, the park area was divided into Sila Badiale, which included the lands donated to the monks by Henry VI, and Sila Regia, which included the lands of the royal state property. This division was maintained for centuries.

Some cultural centers linked to Joachim begin to flourish, such as the Corazzo abbey, and other autonomous ones, such as the Franciscan center of Pedace.

Frederick II of Swabia allowed the expansion and made the three Calabrian Cistercian abbeys autonomous: the abbey of Sambucina in Luzzi, the abbey of Santa Maria della Matina in San Marco Argentano and the abbey of Sant’Angelo de Frigillo in Mesoraca and allowed free grazing in large areas of the Silane.

Thus began violent attacks by peasants and peasants of San Giovanni in Fiore and the municipalities of Presilani (Aprigliano, Albi, Magisano and Spezzano Grande).

The protests resulted in reprisals against the forest itself, which became the victim of numerous fires and indiscriminate cuts. The situation was so dramatic that pushed the government to send officials to quell the riots and put a stop to the devastation.

The government envoys found themselves in front of gloomy and infernal scenarios: this is how Giuseppe Maria Galanti in 1792 and Giuseppe Zurlo in 1852 describe the situation. The fires had destroyed hectares and hectares of woods, especially in Sila Grande and Sila Piccola .

At the same time, the centers of Silan Cosenza area begin to develop a certain interest in the innermost areas. At the beginning of the 1800s the cultivation of potatoes was established and soon became a peculiarity of the whole Sila and which obtained the prestigious IGP recognition with the Patata della Sila.

The 20th and 21st centuries

Between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century transilana, to connect Cosenza to Crotone, the railway was built. The last section opened only in late 1956.

The railway system was considered as an infrastructure capable of breaking the isolation of the Silane areas but also as an industrial means to have a cutting-edge forest industry in Sila.

The deforestations

Since the Greek era, but especially during the Roman Empire, the Silan wood was exploited for its timber, used for the construction of naval fleets. At the end of the eighteenth century the lands of Sila were deforested several times to be cultivated. The deforestation increased with peasant reprisals against the monastic orders.

Extensive deforestation also took place at the beginning of the last century due to the first Italian forest law which projected the Sila forests into a dramatic situation.

The Sila Piccola was characterized by a dense forest of majestic secular trees of beech, pine and fir, with a diameter that largely exceeded 2m. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the area underwent a significant deforestation action by the So.Fo.Me. (Southern Forestry Society). Many forestry companies from outside the region also began to massively and indiscriminately cut all the forests there.

The situation lasted from 1929 to 1949 and resulted in the cutting down of thousands of old trees. The wood was so abundant that to better carry out the work, the forest industries decided to build villages on the spot to house the workers.

There were cableways and narrow-gauge railways for the transport of logs to the port of Crotone.

The deforestation of the Gariglione stopped only in the years of the First World War, when the debate in Parliament on the establishment of a protected area in Sila was ignited, to safeguard the enormous forest heritage. But the forest returned to be severely affected in the Second World War, due to the great demand for timber for war purposes.

The apex of the devastation came at the end of the Second World War, with the war pledge by the Anglo-American forces that cleared large areas of the Calabrian acrocoro. There were many centuries-old trees cut by the Allies as compensation for war debts, many of which were probably used in the construction of the scaffolding of the Manhattan skyscrapers. It is hypothesized that the extension of the forest, before the devastation perpetuated by the Anglo-Americans, was about three times the current one.

Frequent landslides began to occur and the administrations realized how alarming the situation was, rekindling the debate on the need to safeguard the Park.

Birth of the Silane lakes and tourist villages

At the beginning of the 20th century, the dams that formed the basins of Lake Ampollino and Arvo and the two water basins of Lake Cecita and Ariamacina were built.

The birth of artificial lakes considerably changed the Silan territorial system and produced not only an industry linked to hydroelectric energy, but also the flourishing of tourist villages.

Sila national park
Sila national park

On Lake Arvo is founded Lorica, on Lake Ampollino Trepidò, and the then rural village of Camigliatello not far from Cecita developed considerably. The tourist villages of Sila Piccola also arose, like Villaggio Mancuso and Racise.

With the agricultural reform, numerous rural villages were built: Rovale, Cagno and Germano, Sculca, Righio and Croce di Magara, Cava di Melis, Caporose and Tassitano and Bocca di Piazza. Many still retain a predominantly agricultural aspect while others have become holiday resorts.

In the territory of the park, in the tourist villages and in the three urban centers there are thematic visitor centers, naturalistic museums and botanical gardens.

Culture and places of historical interest

The three historic centers of Longobucco, Magisano, and Zagarise fall within the perimeter of the Sila National Park.

Among the most important historical and artistic centers it is certainly worth mentioning Taverna, with its Mattia Preti museum, the churches of San Domenico (17th century) and Santa Barbara, the historic center of Rossano, which houses the ancient** Byzantine church of San Marco, the **Maria Santissima Achiropita cathedral and numerous noble palaces. Outside the ancient historic center ** Santa Maria del Patire abbey** (12th century).

The main center of Sila is San Giovanni in Fiore, full of churches including Santa Maria delle Grazie (16th century), Santa Maria della Sanità (17th century), the convent of the Capuchin Fathers (17th century), the ancient Florense abbey (12th century).

Spezzano della Sila also has numerous churches (San Pietro, San Biagio, the Franciscan convent). Mesoraca has a very old historic center with numerous churches of interest, two of which have been declared national monuments since the 1930s (the Retiro church and the sanctuary of S.S. Ecce Homo of Basilian origin) and the remains of the abbey of Sant’Angelo de Frigillo. Last but not least, the historic center and the sanctuary of the Santa Spina di Petilia Policastro (16th century).

Territory

Sila is a massif with a quadrangular base, almost pyramidal with the main peaks in the north-west, characterized by a very varied environmental diversification mainly attributable to two factors: the influence of the Mediterranean climate and the distance from the sea, which makes some areas of the Sila - especially the Sila Grande - with a continental climate.

The diversified plant and floral heritage of Sila plateau correlates the Sila landscape with both the Apennine and the Alpine environment, but the origins can be traced back to a much more remote geological period than the Apennine orogeny: in fact the geological structure formed by the degradation of the granite rocks and porphyry make the plateau much more similar to the Alps.

Sila is the wettest area of ​​Calabria. Here the temperature variations can be extreme: in winter it drops by several degrees below 0 while in summer the evening average is 15 ° C.

Sila national park
Sila national park

Always considered an impenetrable virgin forest, however, Sila has seen, since ancient times, temporary colonization. Already in Roman times large areas were exploited for the abundance of pitch and timber, And, from the Middle Ages, the woods were cut to obtain land to be dedicated to agriculture and pastoralism. This contrast between forest and agriculture has profoundly changed its original territorial structure.

Natural reserves

Inside the Sila National Park there are 9 of the most important nature reserves of the Calabria:

  • I Giganti della Sila Nature Reserve in Fallistro The most renowned among the present. 56 trees from 2 to 6 meters in circumference with more than 350 years of age, 50 trees of Laricio pine, 5 of mountain maple, as well as beech and chestnut trees of various sizes.

  • Golia Corvo Nature Reserve, Deer conservation and reintroduction area.

  • Gallopane Nature Reserve, Next to the visitor center of the Cupone, it houses faunal enclosures with specimens of roe deer, deer, wolves and mouflons, for protection purposes, as well as a botanical garden and an ecological garden full of floral specimens.

  • Tasso Camigliatello Silano Nature Reserve It is located near the Monte Scuro weather station and the Air Force and is dedicated to the conservation of the genetic heritage of the Silana forest.

  • Villaggio Mancuso Poverella Nature Reserve Near the Monaco Visitor Center in Villaggio Mancuso, it houses the green museum dedicated to environmental education, it is equipped with easily walkable paths where the fauna and flora of the Sila Piccola are illustrated by means of tables.

  • Coturelle Piccione Nature Reserve 50 km away from Catanzaro, in Sila Piccola, this reserve houses a rich fauna community, especially poultry.

  • Gariglione - Pisarello Nature Reserve In Sila Piccola, characterized by the presence of large forests with tall beech trees mixed with white firs. The latter were particularly tolerant to acid rain and repairing the land subject to such rains. There is a colossal fir (35 m by 10.20 in circumference) nicknamed Prometheus, considered the largest in Italy. When the Park was established, the tree was set on fire due to repercussions towards the establishment of the protected area. The fir was cloned to develop new plants and fully preserve its code and genetic characteristics.

  • Macchia della Giumenta-S.Salvatore Nature Reserve Located between Sila Grande and the Sila Greca, it hosts important plant species and a refuge for numerous birds.

  • Trenta Coste Nature Reserve In Sila Greca. It has larch pines, chestnuts, silver firs, Turkey oaks and beeches.

Trails

700 km of trails, over 3000 trail signs, 140 overall panels with maps, difficulty levels, lengths and other characteristics of the routes. It is the Path Network of the Sila National Park, which winds through the entire protected area.

Sila national park
Sila national park

With its 66 paths (51 secondary and 5 part of the famous Sentiero Italia ) - some accessible to people with disabilities - Sila is the first places in Italy for the organization of trekking routes.

A rich clearly marked and well-kept paths network, among woods, tratturi (the ancient peasant roads), hilly clearings, gravelly bottoms, soft carpets of leaves, muddy marshes and clear fords.

Visitor centers, museums and botanical gardens

The park has 3 active visitor centers and one under construction:

  • Cupone Visitor Center, in the municipality of Spezzano della Sila (Sila Grande) near Lake Cecita;
  • Monaco Visitor Center, in the municipality of Taverna, at the Mancuso Village (Sila Piccola);
  • Buturo Visitor Center - Casa Giulia, in the municipality of Albi (Sila Piccola) near the Cecita lake;
  • Trepidò Visitor Center, under construction, in the municipality of Cotronei, near the village of Trepidò on Lake Ampollino.

6 are the Museums

  • Naturalistic Museum of Cupone, in the municipality of Spezzano della Sila (Sila Grande), near the Cecita lake;
  • Naturalistic Museum of Monaco, in the municipality of Taverna (Sila Piccola), at the Mancuso Village;
  • Civic Museum of Mesoraca;
  • Museum of oil and peasant civilization of Zagarise (Sila Piccola);
  • Museum of banditry and agro-forestry-pastoral civilization of Albi (Sila Piccola);
  • Museum of textile craftsmanship and tradition of Longobucco silverware (Sila Greca).

2 the botanical gardens

  • Botanical Garden of Cupone, in the municipality of Spezzano della Sila (Sila Grande), near the Cecit lake;
  • Botanical Garden of Roncino, at Taverna (Sila Piccola).

Park fauna

A multitude of mammals found their habitat in the Park: some indigenous, others reintroduced only recently. There are deer and roe deer, fallow deer, wild boar, badgers, otters, weasels, martens, martens, skunks, dormice, dormice, oaks, southern black squirrels, hedgehogs and porcupines, 3 packs of Apennine wolves, wild cats, hares , foxes and moles.

Even the avifauna is incredibly diverse: almost the entire park constitutes a stop for the North-South migratory routes and for nesting of many species of birds: 113 species have been identified.

Buzzards, goshawks (the largest birds of prey in the Silane forests), sparrow hawks, white hawks, brown and royal kites, Egyptian vultures, various species of hawks, barn owls, tawny owls, owls, common owls, owls, rare real owls, woodpeckers, stiff necks, jays, jackdaws, magpies, crows, ravens, larks, robins, blackbirds, swallows, wrens, blackcaps, blue tit, great tit, finches, climbing, yellow wagtail, dippers, mallards, grebes, coots, gray herons, cuckoos, wood pigeons, hoopoes, quails, woodcocks, siskins.

There have been sightings of golden eagles confirmed by photographic documentation and the passage of quite rare migratory species has been documented, including the redstart, the jay, the black stork, the red-headed shrike and starting from winter 2016 for the first time we witnessed the wintering of the very rare black stork.

The harsh climate of the Silan winters did not favor the population of reptiles, but some managed to integrate. In the territory of the park there is a significant presence of snakes and saurians.

Among the Saurians: the western green lizard, the little worm, lizards, geckos, Hermann’s tortoises. Among the snakes the red-eyed thunderbolt, the common viper, the collared snake and the smooth snake.

Common are the amphibians, including the Apennine toad, toads, the Italian tree frog, frogs, salamanders, newts.

Lakes and rivers are rich in trout, loach, eel, tench, chub, bleak, rudd, carp, perch and stickleback.

What to do and see: sports and activities

The Sila Park can be visited in any season of the year.

Lake Arvo

In summer many activities can be practiced on Lake Arvo. Relax on the banks, cross it by boat, kayak, canoe or pedal on a bike boat.

Sila national park
Sila national park

Visit to the I Giganti della Sila Nature Reserve (or Giganti di Fallistro)

Walking through the Foresta dei Giganti in the Fallistro Nature Reserve is a unique experience. This monumental forest with larch trees with trunks up to 45 meters high by 2 meters in diameter will make you feel tiny.

In the reserve it is easy to spot woodpecker feeding on the insect larvae deposited inside the dead trees. Here, in fact, nothing is destroyed or removed: everything is left as it is. Plants grow exposed to normal biological processes, respecting biodiversity and the ecosystem.

Thanks to this choice, this wood also features the Pinosaurs: gigantic trees that have fallen following a heavy snowfall and take on the appearance of dinosaurs.

The pine forest of the Giants was planted in the first half of 1600 by the Mollo family, noble landowners, who built their summer residence nearby and created a large botanical garden to embellish it and protect it from wind and sun. Now the garden is a monumental wood, the last remnant of the ancient Silana forest.

The long route is only one kilometer long, access is free, it is forbidden to eat, leave the path, pick plants and of course leave waste.

Cupone Visitor Center

Close to Lake Cecita, in the municipality of Spezzano della Sila, there is the Cupone Visitor Center, a environmental education center. Nature trails, wildlife observatories, museum, geological and botanical garden, here it is possible to admire the typical laricio pine, with its monumental specimens comparable in beauty and majesty to the North American sequoias.

In the 350 meters of the educational path there are 115 native species of Calabrian mountain flora, each with its own Braille card. At the entrance there is a marble model of the entire air. On the wildlife trail there are positions that allow you to observe animals, such as the numerous deer and fallow deer.

The ticket costs 5 euros and is free for children.

Sila by mountain bike

Among woods, valleys and plateaus, whole Sila area is ideal for mountain biking: among springs and mills, towers and castles, abbeys and sanctuaries, ruins and ancient farmhouses, for hundreds of kilometers between nature and history, to discover the ancient Silan paths.

Walking along the ancient Silan paths

Comfortable shoes and light backpack. The Sila National Park is dotted with kilometers of trails for all levels of difficulty. Simple and relaxing for walking lovers and more challenging for those who want to test themselves with extreme hiking.

Sila national park
Sila national park
Walk on the paths of transhumance from Lake Ariamacina

More experienced hikers who wish to immerse themselves in the heart of the Sila National Park can opt for an eight-hour excursion - recommended excursion in May - to discover the valleys and pastures of transhumance at high altitude, departing from Lake Ariamacina.

Winter sports

The Sila under the snow is a unique attraction for lovers of cross-country hiking, downhill and snowshoeing.

From the largest lakes, such as Arvo, Cecita, and Ampollino, to the smaller Ariamacìna and Passante, you can enjoy sailing on sailboats, surfboards, kayaks and canoes.

Canyoning

Some rivers that run through the park dig canyons that can be crossed by feets, making their way through wild vegetation, swamps and waterfalls. They are the gorges of Trionto, Ortisano, Vulganera, Soleo and Simeri, Alli, Corace, Melito, Crocchio and Tàcina.

Bird-Watching and nature photography

The Sila National Park offers countless opportunities to observe its rich fauna: especially birds!

Get on the Sila steam train

Travel through the beautiful landscapes of Sila Grande on the historic narrow gauge railway of the Sila.

An exciting journey aboard a steam train that in a couple of hours takes you on Sila plateau to the San Nicola Silvana Mansio village, the station is the highest narrowest gauge in Europe

On salvaged carriages and restored steam locomotives, the Sila Train will bring you through ancient unreal atmospheres.

Once you arrive at the San Nicola station you can admire the revolving platform operated by hand to reverse the locomotive travel direction. A charming restaurant made from two disused wagons completes the incredible scenario.

Bob Lorica

Drive through the woods at top speed on a fun bob on rails. One kilometer of track open in both winter and summer!

Sila cuisine typical products

The inhabitants of Sila will win you over with their cuisine!

La Sila is not only landscape, sports and tourist attractions, but also a journey through genuine tastes.

The soils of the Sila have always been favorable to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables such as apples, chestnuts and the much appreciated and delicious Silana potato.

The Silan gastronomy exploits the local products such as legumes, potatoes, mushrooms, olives, cheese, chilli and olive oil, which, combined with each other and accompanied with wild herbs give life to simple but very tasty dishes.

Raw materials that reflect the history of the territory, made up of agricultural work and the need to adapt to the harsh winter climate, wisely combined to generate dishes rich in taste.

You cannot miss the ‘mparrurati’ pasta (typical macaroni al ferretto), pasta and potatoes ara ‘tijeddra’ (baked with sauce, Parmesan, garlic, oregano and salt).

The silane porcini

La Sila is the Italian area richest in mushrooms and Camigliatello Silano is the most important mushroom market in Italy.

Every year there are parties and festivals in honor of the most important mushroom in the park: the Sila’s Porcino. The king of Sila, fresh, dry or in oil, is present in many dishes of the typical Calabrian cuisine.

Autumn fruits

Very widespread is the use of chestnuts and walnuts for the composition of foods such as chestnut bread or pitta ‘mpigliata (typical local Christmas cake), berries, extra virgin olive oil produced in the areas around the park (such as Marchesato di Crotone DOP oil) and Calabria IGT wine.

Sila Park Gastronomy
Sila Park Gastronomy

Handicraft

Sila stands out in the handicraft for the textile art, especially in San Giovanni in Fiore.

Broom, wool, linen and silk are worked on the loom by skilled hands, to create fabrics embellished with jeweled filigree (much in use since the Byzantine era). There are many carpet weavers, especially those of Longobucco, known all over the world.

The hand-woven baskets, the terracotta turned by local masters and the skilful woodworking are just some of the manufactures widespread in the park.

Prohibitions

Sila National Park has some simple but important rules to respect. The following are prohibited:

  • the capture, killing, damage and disturbance of animal species;
  • the collection and damage of spontaneous wild flora. For the collection of mushrooms the card must be aked and payed the municipalities;
  • the introduction of non-indigenous plant or animal species into an unfenced natural environment;
  • the collection of materials of significant geological and paleontological interest;
  • the removal of minerals, unless duly authorized;
  • the introduction of weapons that can be used for hunting;
  • the camping, outside the specially equipped areas, with the exception of the temporary camping authorized by the Park Authority;
  • unauthorized overflight;
  • the transit of motorized vehicles off the roads.

Where to stay overnight

Sila Park offers numerous equipped campsites and farmhouses.

How to get

You can get to the Sila National Park by car, train, bus or plane.

By car

La Sila is easily accessible by car whether you come from the Ionian area along the S.S. 106, or from the Tyrrhenian on the S.S. 18. The exits are those of Cosenza, Rogliano, Altilia Grimaldi and further south of Lamezia Terme. To get to Sila, there are the S.S 107 Silano-Crotone equidistant from Sila Greca, Grande, and Piccola, or the Supestrada 280 dei Due Mari and the S.S. 281 of Rosarno.

By train

The State Railways offer a diverse range of choices to reach the Park by train. The stations of Paola, Lamezia Terme, Catanzaro and Crotone are the main hubs from which to leave for the Sila, with the narrow gauge train of the Ferrovie della Calabria (Cosenza-Catanzaro and vice versa).

By bus

The scheduled buses, private or managed by the Ferrovie della Calabria, become an almost obvious support to use to complete the journeys to the chosen destinations, especially for those arriving by plane.

By plane

If you opt for the plane, you can arrive in Sila in less than two hours from Milan and Turin and in even shorter times from Rome or Bologna. The closest airports to Sila are Lamezia Terme on the Tyrrhenian side, about 100 km from the Park and Crotone S. Anna on the Ionian side, 90 km away.

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Alessandro Gemscovery Travel Blog
Alessandro Lussi
Di origine friulana e calabrese, risiedo a Torino.
Copywriter professionista, ho smesso di lavorare come programmatore per dedicarmi full-time alla mia passione: la scrittura.