The Sila National Park was established in 1997 and covers nearly 74,000 hectares over the provinces of Catanzaro, Cosenza and Crotone in the region of Calabria.
The National Park is divided into three sections running north to south: 'Sila Greca' ('Greek Sila'), 'Sila Grande' ('Large Sila')and 'Sila Piccola' ('Small Sila').
The landscape of the Sila is rich and varied with large areas of unspoilt forest, fast flowing rivers and several lakes. The area is mountainous, with the highest peaks being Mount. Botte Donato (1,928m), in 'Sila Grande', and Mt. Gariglione (1,764m) in 'Sila Piccola'.
'Sila Grande' - Photo: Brunofrancesco
The views are spectacular, and range from the Ionian Sea in the east to the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, where it is possible to see two active volcanoes, Etna and Stromboli, as well as the other Aeolian Isands.
'Sila in winter' - Photo: Ndn
The area of the Sila has been occupied by farming tribes since very early times. The Romans moved into Calabria, having defeated the Greeks at Sibari in 510 BC. The area was subsequently occupied by the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines and the Normans, who built several notable monasteries, including 'Matina of San Marco Argentano', the 'Sambucina' at Luzzi and the 'Florense Abbey' at San Giovanni in Fiore. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Albanian settlers came across the Ionian Sea and established the communities of 'Sila Greca'. Following the unification of Italy in 1861, the Sila became an area of rebellion, with bands of Brigands hiding out in the inaccessible mountain areas. Over time, roads and railways made the areas more accessible.
'Lake Arvo, Sila' - Photo: Motorpferd
The traditional livelihoods of cattle and sheep farming have declined over the years and the area is now largely supported by tourism. There are 31 nature trails available in the park making it a paradise for walkers and trekkers. In addition, there are facilities for cycling, horse riding, skiing, flying or sailing in the lakes of the Sila.