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National Parks

National Park of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga

150,000 hectares, 3 Regions (Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise), 5 Provinces (L’Aquila, Teramo, Pescara, Rieti, and Ascoli Piceno), 44 Municipalities, 8 Mountain Communities, 350 chamois, 40 wolves, 50 deer, 15 pairs of Peregrine falcons, 5 pairs of golden eagles, 2600 plant species, 81 protected heritage trees, 40 endangered plant species... these few figures suffice to express the importance of this National Park, established in 1991 to safeguard a vast territory that includes three mountain chains, the Laga, the Monti Gemelli, and the Massiccio del Gran Sasso d’Italia.

A splendid mosaic in which the tiles created by the age-old work of man blend harmoniously into an environment moulded by nature over millions of years, the Park hosts an extraordinary variety of ecosystems, habitats, and animal and plant species thanks to its geographic position, its high mountains and the varying geomorphology of the relief, with limestone and dolomite that characterise the massif of the Gran Sasso and the Monti Gemelli and the sandstone and marlstone that dominate on the Monti della Laga.

The majestic massifs of the Gran Sasso and the Monti Gemelli, with their high walls, were moulded by the waters that scored deep gorges and formed curious karstic phenomena that are easily observable at Campo Imperatore, the vast tableland of the Apennines, and by the ancient glaciers that have now disappeared but left evident traces in the morainic deposits and U-shaped valleys. The Monti della Laga have rounded peaks with deeply scored valleys. Ere the water flow impetuously on the surface, with streams, torrents, and rivers that rush into the valley, forming splendid waterfalls like those of the Morricana, of the Volpara, of the Barche, of the Cavata, of the Cento Fonti, and of the Fiumata.


The beechwood, often associated with badgers and holly, relicts of warmer and damper climates, is the most extensive forest formation, very common between 1000 and 1800 metres of altitude; maples, linden tress, ash trees, and wych elms line the gullies, while the Monti della Laga also have silver firs and birch trees. At lower altitudes the chestnut groves, cultivated during Roman times and once a fundamental economic resource, and oak groves often include centuries-old specimens, ancient trees twisted by time. But the most precious plant species are those that have survived the ice ages, originally from the Eurasian steppes and the Balkan Mountains, and those indigenous to the high-altitude pastures and as far as the cultivated fields.


The symbol of the Park, the Abruzzo chamois, dominated the Gran Sasso until the past century. Inexorable persecution by hunters – the “cacciatori di camozze” – led to their near extinction towards the end of the 19th century. Thanks to a successful reintroduction project, today the chamois inhabits the massif once again. About fifty individuals flank deer, roe deer, and countless other mammals, martens, wild cats, polecats, beech martens, badgers, porcupines, and small rodents. In this splendid Park, a European monument to biodiversity, there must also be predators - a fundamental element of the food chain. On land, the main predator is the Apennine wolf, now a stable reality with about forty individual counted. Then there are the birds of prey – the golden eagle, goshawk, peregrine falcon, lanner, and the eagle owl – that survey the skies and woods.

The high-altitude meadows and pastures are the ideal habitat for numerous other animal species: Birds, like the snow finch, the water pipit, the meadow pipit and the alpine accentor, which boast the most numerous Apennine populations, reptiles like the Orsini’s viper, a small snake that eats insects and maintains the most consistent national population, and small mammals, like the snow vole, a true glacial throw-back that arrived in this region with the last ice age.
These precious natural treasures are framed in the age-old agrarian and pastoral landscapes where a variety of crops have always been cultivated, like solina (a particular grain), parsnip, saffron, dill, coriander…

An immense heritage that also reveals itself through suggestive historical-architectural remains and craftsmanship, with the ceramicists of Castelli, the master saddlers of L’Aquila, the coppersmiths of Tossicia, the stonecutters of Amatrice, and the coalmen of Arquata del Tronto, and the thousands of gourmet products that hungry visitors can sample year-round. Ascolan olives, saffron from L’Aquila, typical “timballi” rice moulds, scamorza cheese, mushrooms, lentils, spelt and chestnuts.


National Park of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga
Via del Convento, 1
Tel. (+39) 0862 60521
Fax (+39) 0862 606675



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