National parks: the natural jewels of the Bel Paese6 November 2018


Italy has 15 thousand square kilometers of protected naturalistic areas

A National Park is a vast area of ​​land that contains one or more ecosystems of national and international interest whose natural beauty establishes the importance of being protected by the State for its conservation. Currently these conservation areas in Italy cover an area of ​​over 1,500,000 hectares (15,000 km²) and correspond to about 6% of the national territory.

Officially, the National Parks listed in the official list of protected natural areas (EUAP) are 25, and this list is periodically updated by the Ministry of the environment and the protection of the territory and the seas. In addition to the National Parks, there are 847 Protected Regional and Provincial Parks, for a total of 6 million hectares, including coasts, lands and marine areas, equal to 22% of the national territory. The uniqueness and incredible scientific, environmental and aesthetic value of some parks has even been recognized by UNESCO, as in the case of the Cinque Terre National Park, in Liguria.

Cinque Terre National Park

Established in 1999 and located in the province of La Spezia, it extends for about 4,300 hectares and includes five villages rich in history, art and evocative naturalistic elements. At the Cinque Terre the exceptional universal value was recognized, according to their – as stated in the UNESCO document – “representativeness of a geo-cultural region clearly defined […] and as it responds to criteria of integrity and authenticity, manifested in the forms of the agricultural landscape, characterized by the rural settlement and by the terracing supported by dry-stone walls “.

The Park consists of five small fishing villages overlooking the Ligurian Levant: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. But what makes the place so special, is also the natural setting surrounding the villages: from the mountains to the sea, the Park offers a rich and varied landscape, with enchanting little bays and beaches, vineyards and olive trees, and spectacular panoramic paths that unfold at overhangs the sea, and then climb the slopes.

Gargano National Park

The Gargano National Park was established in 1995 and covers a surface of 121.118 hectares, 18 municipalities, but above all it is considered one of the richest areas of different habitats and biodiversity.

Often this park is known abroad and in Italy only as a holiday resort for its crystal clear waters – with a mandatory destination in Vieste, Peschici and the Tremiti Islands – or as a pilgrimage destination linked to Padre Pio but it is not only this.

There are several protected areas among which the Marine Reserve of the Tremiti Islands, unique in its kind for the extraordinary beauty of the sea floor and for the natural caves. In the hinterland of the promontory the last testimony of the verdant Foresta Umbra, a very extensive habitat already in prehistoric times. In the northern part of the Park, instead, you can visit the small Lake of Lesina or the Lake of Varano, the largest in size in all of Southern Italy. There are many possibilities to explore the park on foot or by bicycle with itineraries and excursions of a sporting, naturalistic, eno-gastronomic, historical-artistic and religious nature.

Regional Park of the Po Delta

Established in 1988 the Po Delta Regional Park is a protected area of ​​about 54,000 hectares occupying a vast geographical area of ​​Veneto and Emilia Romagna. Although not part of the list of National Parks, it deserves special attention: the Regional Park, in fact, is one of the most beautiful natural oasis of Italy, which, in addition to being UNESCO, is also the largest wetland in Europe, ideal habitat for the transmigrations of rich colonies of birds (among which the pink flamingos), but also the permanent home of many animal and plant species.

The Po, this sweet giant of 650 kilometers, is extended towards the mouth like a triangle whose axis is crossed by the central branch of the Po of Venice, and whose surface is washed by the six ramifications that bear the names of Po di Levante, Po of Maistra, Po di Pila, Po di Gnocca, Po di Tolle and Po di Goro.

The Park is a beautiful land still largely unknown, to be traveled slowly, discovering the sweetness of the landscape, the warm and rough welcome of the casoni, the thrill of boat bridges, the mystery of the thick reeds, the vast horizons, until to the charm of the mouth and the extremities of the sand, flakes of fine sand in continuity with the sea. The Park can be explored on foot or by bicycle with itineraries and excursions about sporting, nature or wine and food.