Sila 120 km away from Cariati
Breathtaking landscapes, untouched nature and a wealth of inimitable biodiversity. The area of the Sila National Park is extended over 73,000 hectares with 21 municipalities within the three provinces of Cosenza, Catanzaro and Crotone. The park is divided into two areas, the Sila Grande and the Sila Piccola.
The first is characterized by extensive forests of larch-pine 1400-1700 meters above the sea level and below the valley by beech and chestnut. Sila Piccola, is covered with white fir and beech. Sila’s fauna is characterized by the presence of wolves ("are evil only in fairy" is what you read on the road signs ), squirrels, otters, deer, wild boar, buzzards and black woodpeckers. To the flora belong charming trees such as pines and maples ("Giganti del Fallistro") and flower species such as gorse, primroses and orchids. Mountaineering and mountain biking, orienteering, sailing, canoeing, canyoning, archery, and birdwatchers are the sports that can be practiced in this environment, where, according to the scientific studies by international Nanopatologie experts, you can breathe the cleanest air in Europe. The first known settlers of the Sila plateau were the Bruttii, an ancient tribe of shepherds and farmers. After the destruction of Sybaris in 510 BC, Rome began to extend its sphere of influence over Calabria, Sila included. Later it was occupied in turn by the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines and, from the 11th century, the Italo-Normans.
The latter favoured the creation of several monasteries, like the Matina of San Marco Argentano, the Sambucina at Luzzi and the Florense Abbey at San Giovanni in Fiore, founded by Joachim of Fiore. In 1448-1535 immigrants from Albania settled the area towards the Ionian Sea, creating the so-called community of Sila Greca ("Greek Sila"). Today the communes in Sila in which the Albanian language is preserved are 30. After the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy (late 19th century), Sila became a base of brigandage. New routes were opened to reduce the isolation of the mountain centres, which was dramatic especially in winter: these included the Paola-Cosenza-Crotone road, and mountain railways such as the Cosenza-Camigliatello Silano-San Giovanni in Fiore narrow gauge line (now no longer operating regularly, and only just for tourist special excursions), operated by the Ferrovie Calabro Lucane, and the Paola-Cosenza rack railway, operated by Ferrovie dello Stato. Today several centres, such as Camigliatello and Palumbo Sila, are becoming tourist resorts.
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