With its 192.000 hectares stretching between Basilicata and Calabria, the Pollino National Park is Italy’s largest national park.

Its name derives from the peak of Pollino Massif, defined by the Achaeans as “Mons Apollineum”, the Mount of the Greek god Apollo, for its majesty and impressive height that recalled the Mount Olympus, which in Greek mythology was the home of the ancient Greek Olympian gods.

Within thick woods of beech and oak, such as Magnano wood, near San Severino Lucano, fir and chestnut forests and grass plateaus you will get the chance to see the famous ‘Pino Loricato’, a thousand-year old Bosnian pine, symbol of the park. Bosnian pines are mostly found at the top of Serra di Crispo mountain, which is also known as the “Garden of Gods” for being one of the very few places where this rare tree species with a twisted trunk still grows.

The Apennines wolf, wild boar, deer, squirrel, porcupine and otter are some of the animals that populate these woods, along with woodpeckers and real owls. Among the highest peaks of the Southern Apennines it is worth mentioning the Serra Dolcedorme mountain, which is the ‘roof’ of the park. Golden eagles, peregrine falcons and kestrels usually fly over these mountains.

Streams and rivers, such as Frido and Peschiera, flow across the area of San Severino Lucano, in the Pollino National Park, which is characterised by rock outcrops, deep faults and impressive chasms rich in fossils dating back to thousands of years ago. One of the most valuable ones is the four metres tall skeleton of an Elepfhans antiquus italicus, which lived approximately seven hundred thousand years ago and has been found in the Mercure valleys. Today, the fossil is kept in the Natural and Paleontological Museum of Rotonda, visitors centre of the Park.

This protected area of outstanding beauty, where natural, sport and cultural attractions combine, is full of natural wonders and museums for you to dive into the history and traditions of the ancient peasant culture and the Arbëreshë communities.

www.parcopollino.gov.it