Italian gardens and parks: Woods of National Pollino Park
- WTI Magazine #142 Aug 18, 2021
Pollino National Park is the widest protected area in Italy and it is named after Pollino massif. It was established in 1988 and it covers a surface of 192.565 hectares, of which 103.915 are in Calabria and the others are in Basilicata including the areas of Potenza, Matera, Cosenza and other 56 municipalities.
The territory presents different characteristics depending on the region: Monte Pollino, which is 2248 m high, shows a rough slope on the Calabrian side while it is gentle and tree-filled on the Basilicata part.
Flora. The lucanian territory, which in the lower areas includes Sinni torrent and lake of Monte Cotugno, is characterised by the presence of dry grasslands which are substituted gradually by forests of broad-leaved trees. It is possible to find beech tree woods above 800-1.000 meters, while loricate pines (Pinus leucodermis – Pinus heldreichii) are present at higher altitudes. This is a rare species in Italy, it is the symbol of the park and it is capable to adapt to the harshest habitats. The Calabrian territory, in which Raganello stream is present, encloses similar plants, but there is a higher concentration of xerophilous plants and holm oaks (Quercus ilex). The park’s vegetation is rich and varied: there are Silver Firs (Abies alba), seven species of maple trees (Acer spp.), beech trees (Fagus sylvatica), black pines (Pinus nigra), yews (Taxus baccata) oaks (Quercus spp.) and chestnut trees (Castanea sativa).
Wild orchids, violets, gentians and bluebells bloom during spring, while officinal and aromatic plants and the rare red lilies (Lilium bulbiferum) prevail in summer. Wild berries are present too and among them it is possible to find raspberries and strawberries (Fragaria vesca), and spontaneous trees like wild apples and cherry trees. Serra delle Ciavole is another attraction of the park, since here it is possible to find a “graveyard of Loricate pines”, with giant logs and twisted-skinny trunks.
Fauna. The rare southern black squirrel lives only in this park and it is necessary to follow the routes of Monte Pollinello or of Timpa della Capanna to find it.
What to do. There are many water streams in the park and some of them have thermal characteristics. The lovers of canyoning can practice this sport in Gole del Raganello, which are accessible by kayaks or inflatable rafts. Climb of Monte Pollino (2.248 meters of height) is suitable for the ones who love walking and from there it is possible to admire a magnificent panorama.
There are many religious and profane festivities related to Calabrian rustic culture which attract many people. The celebrations related to Madonna del Pollino, the rituals of May and the feast of Falcetto di San Paolo Albanese are some of the most relevant ones.