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Sila National Park: A green pearl in Calabria

Located in the Calabria region, the Sila National Park is one of the largest protected natural areas in Europe and a perfect destination for lovers of nature and outdoor sports. With its breathtaking landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and numerous outdoor activities, the Sila National Park is a true paradise for nature lovers and an oasis of tranquility in the heart of Calabria.

The park extends over a vast area, which includes three mountain massifs: Sila Grande, Sila Greca and Sila Piccola. Each of these areas offers a unique and fascinating landscape, with lush forests, crystal clear lakes, spectacular rivers and valleys.

In addition to natural beauty, the Sila National Park is also rich in history and culture. During the visit, you can discover ancient villages, hermitages and monasteries, evidence of the ancient rural and spiritual life of the area.

Flora and Fauna of the Sila National Park


The predominant vegetation is made up of beeches, firs, pines and chestnut trees, which create a magical atmosphere and a great variety of colors during the different seasons of the year.

Majestic beech and fir trees dominate much of the landscape and create a spectacular backdrop. During autumn, the beech leaves turn red and orange, creating a breathtaking panorama.

Loricati pines are a native pine species that grows only in the Sila and in some parts of the Apennines. These robust trees are adapted to the unique climatic conditions of the region and represent an essential element of the Sila flora.

The ghost orchid

During spring and summer, the meadows are filled with brightly colored flowers that give the region a fairy-tale appearance. Among the lush woods and colorful meadows, one of the most fascinating and rare wonders of Italian flora is hidden: the ghost orchid (Epipogium aphyllum). This extraordinary plant, also known as the “saprophytic orchid,” is one of the most elusive and mysterious in the entire Sila region.

What makes the ghost orchid so extraordinary is that it lacks chlorophyll, the green pigment needed for photosynthesis, the process by which most plants make their own food. In contrast, the ghost orchid is a saprophytic plant, meaning it gets its nutrition from mycorrhizal fungi growing in the soil. Due to the lack of chlorophyll and leaves, the ghost orchid almost seems to “magically” appear from the ground when it blooms. Another distinctive feature of this flower is that it does not bloom every year but only in humid and mild springs. His presence is almost like that of a ghost, so discreet and fleeting.

Ghost orchid (Epipogium aphyllum)


One of the most fascinating aspects of the Sila National Park is its wildlife. Here you can spot different species of animals:

Sila is one of the last refuges of the Apennine wolf in Italy. These predators are difficult to spot, but their presence adds a touch of the wild to the region.

The woods are home to numerous species of deer and roe deer. You can spot them during the early morning hours or at dusk when they come out to graze.

The eagle is one of the most impressive and majestic birds of prey. During the flight, it is possible to see them gliding in the ascending currents above the peaks of Sila.

The lakes of Sila Grande

In the region, there are several lakes that add further charm to the landscape and offer an evocative natural environment. The most important ones are located in Sila Grande:

Lake Arvo

Lake Arvo is one of the largest lakes in Calabria. Its crystal clear waters reflect the majestic surrounding trees, creating an atmosphere of great serenity. You can take a walk along its banks, have a picnic or simply enjoy the breathtaking view.

Lake Ampollino

Lake Ampollino is an artificial lake formed by the damming of the Ampollino river. It is a very popular destination for lovers of nature and water sports, such as kayaking, sailing and windsurfing.

Lake Cecita

This lake is the largest in Sila and is surrounded by dense coniferous forests. It is possible to come across different types of animals, such as deer, roe deer, foxes and numerous birds, which inhabit the surrounding area. For those who like fishing, Lake Cecita is also an ideal place. Its waters are rich in trout and other fish, offering a peaceful and relaxing fishing experience.

What to visit in the Sila National Park?

Macchia della Giumenta Nature Reserve

Located in Sila Greca, this nature reserve is a wonder for lovers of wild flora and fauna. Here you can discover a great variety of plants and animals, including deer, roe deer and birds of prey. There are also well-marked hiking trails that allow you to explore the beauty of this reserve.

Mancuso village

This ancient village is located in Sila Piccola and is known for its characteristic stone houses and its traditional atmosphere. Walking through its narrow streets will make you feel as if you have gone back in time, discovering the history and culture of Sila.

Camigliatello Silano

Located in the Sila Grande, Camigliatello Silano is a charming mountain village surrounded by coniferous forests. It is a popular tourist destination both in winter, when it transforms into a ski resort, and in summer, when its cool temperatures offer a pleasant escape from the summer heat.

San Giovanni in Fiore

This historic village is located in Sila Greca and is famous for its monastery founded by San Giovanni da Fiore. The monastery, known as the Certosa di San Giovanni in Fiore, is one of the main attractions of the village and houses a museum that tells the story of the monastic order.

What activities can be carried out in Sila?

During the winter months, Sila becomes a popular ski destination. Its mountains offer slopes for all skill levels, from beginner slopes to more challenging slopes for expert skiers. The most famous ski resorts are Camigliatello Silano in the Sila Grande and Lorica in the Sila Piccola.

Ski slope in Camigliatello Silano

Sila is also a paradise for lovers of hiking and trekking, with a vast network of paths that cross woods, valleys and mountains. You can explore the beautiful natural landscapes, discover lakes, waterfalls and admire the unique flora and fauna of the region. The trails also offer excellent opportunities for mountain biking. You can tackle challenging routes or simply enjoy a ride through woods and breathtaking landscapes.

The lakes, such as Lago Ampollino and Lago Cecita, are ideal places for canoeing and kayaking. You can enjoy a pleasant adventure on the water, exploring the most hidden and peaceful corners of the lakes.

Furthermore, thanks to its high altitudes and thermal currents, Sila is a popular place for paragliding. You can enjoy incredible panoramic views as you glide through the sky and admire the breathtaking landscapes of the region.

Finally, Sila also offers opportunities for horse riding lovers. You can go horseback riding through the region’s woods and trails, enjoying the unique experience of exploring nature on horseback.

In conclusion, the Sila National Park is a destination that deserves to be discovered for its natural beauty, its cultural richness and its numerous outdoor activities. Whether you are a nature lover, a hiking enthusiast or simply looking for peace and tranquility, the Sila National Park will be able to meet your expectations and offer you a unique experience in the heart of Calabria.