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National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise

Pescasseroli, the headquarters of the Abruzzo National Park
Ph. Luigi Alesi on flickr (flic.kr/p/5kgrHB)

The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise is one of the largest and most important parks in Italy. Founded in 1923, the park is often known as the National Park of Abruzzo, mostly because most of the land is part of the Abruzzo region. The headquarters of the park is located in Pescasseroli, in the L’Aquila province.

This is the oldest park in the Appennines and is considered to be very important because it preserves various animal species such as chamois, the Marsican Abruzzo National Park Brown Bear, and the Apennine Wolf. Almost two-thirds of the park is covered in beech forests and the land also boasts many other types of trees from black pines to silver birch.

Abruzzo National Park – Italy

History of the Abruzzo National Park

The idea of the park was generated when the Opi municipality leased five square kilometers of land to a private federation following the First World War. The municipality had decided to lease the land for the protection of fauna and flora in the area. For the next few years, the territory of the park expanded widely to some of the municipalities located in the neighborhood and by 1923 the park covered an area of around 120 square kilometers and it was then necessary to gain status as a national park.

In 1933 the Fascist government abolished the park and it was only re-established during the 1950s. In the meantime, about 12,000 of the park’s trees had been cut to supply the country’s building boom. Under new management, in the 1960s, the park began to flourish and expand. Once the government saw the economic benefits the park could provide they began to protect its status.

Today the Abruzzo National Park is 500 square kilometers in size.

The National Park of Abruzzo – Chamois

The Location of Abruzzo National Park

The park spreads over the regions of Molise, Lazio, and Abruzzo in Italy. It covers three provinces and 25 municipalities. Mount Petroso and Mount Marsicano, at 2,247 meters and 2,242 meters of altitude, are the highest mountain peaks in the park. Close to the Devil’s Pass the River Sangro rises and then it passes through the park to the Lago di Barrea, an artificial lake. Rivers Melfa and Giovenco also pass through the national park and the Scanno Lake are also within its boundaries.

Abruzzo National Park, Italy

Wildlife in the park

The Abruzzo National Park is considered to be one of the most important national parks in Italy mainly because it protects many wildlife species in the region. Thousands of visitors each year travel to the national park to be able to spot animals like the Apennine wolf and Marsican Brown Bear. Unfortunately, the bear population is reducing rapidly.

Abruzzo National Park Brown Bear

Development in the region has negatively affected the park and its wildlife, as has poaching and the shift from an agricultural-based economy.

Visitors to the park should look out for roe deers, red deers, and wild boars, although these species are hard to spot because they live in the densest areas of the forest. Martens, otters, badgers, and polecats can also be found in the park. Chamois live in smaller groups or on their own above the forests. Visitors to the park will also be able to see plenty of squirrels, dormice, hedgehogs, moles, weasels, hares, and foxes.

Birds and Plants

There are several different species of birds that have made the Abruzzo park their home. The most famous of the birds is the golden eagle, which can be often seen soaring over the park hunting for prey. The other birds seen in the area are sparrow hawks, kestrels, buzzards, peregrines, and some species of owl.

National Park of Abruzzo – Golden Eagle

Along with resident birds, there are several species of migratory birds at the park-like green woodpeckers, white-backed woodpeckers, hoopoe, and jay. Grey herons, wagtails, and dippers can be seen near the water, while rock partridges, snow finches, and alpine choughs can be seen near the mountains.

The park is also very rich in flora species. There are over 2,000 types of plants and trees in the park. The Abruzzo Park is especially famous for the very rare lady’s slipper and black and yellow orchids. More than 60% of the park is covered with beech, which grows at a higher altitude and has an interesting array of colors.

Tourist Activities in Abruzzo National Park

Thousands of visitors each year travel to the park to enjoy the various outdoor activities available in the area. In recent years due to the development of tourism, several types of outdoor activities are offered in the park-like trekking, cycling, canoeing, horse riding, cycling, bird watching, and cross country skiing.

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