Sila immediately surprises because it rises in the middle of a long and narrow strip of land in the middle of the Mediterranean. The Sila National Park is located in the largest plateau in Europe, in an area of significant natural, environmental and historical-cultural interest, consisting of Big Sila, Greek Sila and Little Sila. It extends in the territory of 19 municipalities being part of 3 provinces of Calabria (Cosenza, Catanzaro and Crotone), for a total of 73.695 hectares.
Of the 19 municipalities that fall within the protected area, 11 are in the Province of Cosenza (Acres, Aprigliano, Bocchigliero, Casali del Manco, Celico, Corigliano Calabro, Longobucco, San Giovanni in Fiore, Spezzano della Sila), 6 are in the Province of Catanzaro (Albi, Magisano, Petronà, Sersale, Taverna, Zagarise) and 4 in the Province of Crotone (Cotronei, Mesoraca, Petilia Policastro, Savelli).
Its geological characteristics, together with those due to its geographical position, determine a series of unique landscapes in the world. Sila in fact, covered with trees and not coincidentally nicknamed "Gran Bosco d'Italia", has been exploited for millennia (since the time of Magna Graecia) for its wood used in the construction of ships, houses, churches.
The Park area is characterized by its wealth of water, the extraordinary presence of woods and ancient forests that make up 80% of its surface, due to its three large artificial lakes, used for the production of electricity and which provide drinking water and irrigation, and by easy accessibility thanks to the geomorphological conformation and the numerous itineraries and paths that make it largely accessible on foot, on horseback or by bicycle.
The current forests are interspersed with large, fertile and pleasant pastures and cultivated lands, since Roman times, granite-crystalline soils. The highest reliefs are Mount Botte Donato (1928 meters), in Big Sila, and Mount Gariglione (1764 meters) in Little Sila.
Perhaps the best known tree species is the black pine of Calabria, which grows in these forests and in very few other places in the world; but to keep him company, depending on the exposure of the various mountain slopes, we also find beeches, white firs, oaks, chestnuts, maples, limes. Under the thick wooded cover are moving wolves, wild boars, foxes, badgers, otters, deer, roe deer, even the wildcat; the squirrels climb up the trunks, accompanied by the rhythmic hammering of the woodpeckers, avoiding the attentive gaze of buzzards, goshawks, sparrow-hawks, peregrine falcons and royal kites. Watching at night we find instead the eagle owl, the tawny owl and the barn owl.
The expanse of the woods is interrupted by the three major artificial reservoirs: the Cecita, the Arvo and the Ampollino lakes and other waterways of lesser extent, but equally of great beauty, like the Ariamacìna lakes, also home to a naturalistic oasis, and Passante.
The territory protection and its economic and social development thanks to the Park are combined with sustainable tourism and the many activities that can be carried out: from skiing, both cross-country and downhill, to trekking; from rowing, to sleddog, mountain biking or horseback riding; passing through the visits to the historical centers of the district municipalities, the master craftsmen’s workshops that still carry on ancient goldsmith traditions, textiles and many other genres; without forgetting the "Garcea" and "Cupone" Visitor Centers; to end then with the numerous areas of historical or archaeological interest; agriculture, food and wine, culture, biodiversity, renewable energy, sustainable mobility, accessibility and many other activities of a territory, that of the UNESCO MaB Area "Sila", of which the Park constitutes the core and buffer areas, which extend from the mountains to the sea level for a total of 326 thousand hectares and 324 thousand inhabitants. Ultimately a vast heritage in good hands.
Ricadono all'interno del territorio del Parco Nazionale della Sila:
Casali del Manco
San Giovanni in Fiore
Spezzano della Sila