Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park
|Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga|
|Nearest city||L'Aquila, Teramo|
|Area||1,413.31 km2 (545.68 sq mi)|
|Governing body||Ministero dell'Ambiente|
The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park is a natural park located mostly in Abruzzo, Italy. It was established in 1991, it has an area of 2,014 square kilometres (778 sq mi), and it is mainly spread out across the province of Teramo, L'Aquila, Pescara, with small areas in the province of Rieti and Ascoli Piceno. The terrain is predominantly mountainous with alpine plains.
The Grand Highway of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park runs through the park between the Gran Sasso mountain peak and the chain known as Monti della Laga.
The park is one of the largest protected areas in Europe, and is centered around the massif of the Gran Sasso, which dominates the surrounding landscape; it rises vertically on the immense pastures of the Campo Imperatore. The land is very rocky and receives a large amount of snow and wind. The Calderone lies just beneath the tallest peak, the Corno Grande, and it is considered to be Europe's southernmost glacier. On the north side there is the profile of Monti della Laga chain, where thousands of migratory birds stop on the shores of Lake Campotosto. This area is completely covered by woods of beeches, firs, turkey oaks and chestnuts. There are over 200 kilometres (120 mi) of dedicated horse trails that can be used to visit the park.
Nature and wildlife
The park contains one of the most biologically diverse areas of Europe. The climate is between that of the Mediterranean and that of the rest of continental Europe. The park contains more than two thousand plant species, some of which are found exclusively in this area, such as the Abruzzo Edelweiss. Many species of wildlife inhabit the park, including rare animals such as the Abruzzo chamois, as well as wolves, Marsican brown bear, roe deer, wildcats, wild boars, foxes and squirrels. Notable birds include the golden eagle, the white-backed woodpecker, the goshawk, the common buzzard and the peregrine falcon. There are also a wide variety of insects, such as the apollo butterfly.
The park contains a very long circuit of approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) featuring trails that can be visited on horseback, by mountain bike, or on foot.
Educational projects are active in the park visitor centres, and trails and paths can be freely explored alone or with the assistance of mountain guides.
Many old villages are located within the confines the national park. They tend to be quite small, with stone and brick houses and narrow streets. In many cases, the place names highlight the defensive nature of the settlement and a summit position, such as Castel (castle), Rocca, Pizzo (peak), and Colle (hill).
Assergi, Barete, Barisciano, Cagnano Amiterno, Calascio, Campotosto, Capestrano, Capitignano, Carapelle Calvisio, Castel del Monte, Castelvecchio Calvisio, L'Aquila, Montereale, Ofena, Pizzoli, Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Villa Santa Lucia degli Abruzzi
Arsita, Campli, Castelli, Civitella del Tronto, Cortino, Crognaleto, Fano Adriano, Isola del Gran Sasso d'Italia, Montorio al Vomano, Pietracamela, Rocca Santa Maria, Torricella Sicura, Tossicia, Valle Castellana.
- Media related to Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park at Wikimedia Commons
- (in Italian)—Official Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park website
- (in Italian)—The National Park of the Gran Sasso
- (in Italian)—Parks.it: Park Authority in Abruzzo
- UNESCO photographer's gallery of Campo-Imperatore