The Pollino National Park is one of the largest protected areas in Italy. One of the most salient features of this environment is the rapid passage, within a few kilometers, from the coastal landscapes to the mountain ones. It follows a very rich environmental variety, where it is possible to admire dolomitic rocks, calcareous bastions, moraine deposits, fault walls of tectonic origin and erratic boulders, inheritance of the last glaciations. The landscape is also enriched by numerous natural springs, underground rivers, small streams and waterfalls. Among the most evocative places are the gorges of Raganello, a deep canyon originating from tectonic movements and river erosions. The Lucania part of the Pollino Park, in the southern sector of the region, includes the Sinni basin and consists of extensive forests, pastures and arable areas. The Calabrian side is furrowed by the Raganello stream, with its suggestive gorges. As for the Lucanian part, there is a very varied vegetation, it is not infrequent to observe Mediterranean species mixed with high mountain trees.
The morphological complexity that characterizes the Pollino park has determined the presence of about 1700 plant species, among which 366 medicinal plants have been cataloged. Among the vegetation of the park, which includes downy oaks, hornbeams, maples, holm oak forests, oaks, junipers, white firs and beech woods, stands the loricate pine, which has become the symbol of the park. It is a majestic conifer native to the Balkans, very long-lived, and owes its name to the particular type of flake bark that covers it, which refers to the "lorica", the Latin name by which the armor of the Roman warriors was designated. Almost a living fossil, the loricate pine prefers the inaccessible grounds of the high altitudes of the park, not suitable for beech and oak, present in the lower areas. Another richness is the presence of numerous aromatic herbs, including the cistus, the thyme and the arboreal camedrio. These grow on sandy bottoms, suitable for the growth of a low and sparse vegetation, called "gariga", a delicious meal of the numerous grazing flocks. Finally, in the karst plains, many species of orchids, buttercups, daffodils and gentians flourish.
Also the fauna present in the Pollino Park is very varied and often rare, since the territory preserves many endangered species. Among the birds it is not unusual to be able to observe the golden eagle, the peregrine falcon, the red kite and the eagle owl, just as it is common to see wild boar and roe deer, including the native species Orsomarso. There is also the spectacled salamander, the otter and the Apennine wolf. The absolute naturalness of the environment is indicated by the presence of rare beetles, such as the Rosalia alpina, the Osmoderma italica and the Buprestis splendens, among the rarest in Europe. Among the many butterflies, the beautiful and rare Melanargia arge stands out, with white wings marked by black ribs. In the Park live two species of tortoises, both protected: the common tortoise and the marsh tortoise, of which few populations remain in Italy. In the marine environment, among the crustaceans, we find an endemic species of the Pollino, the Chirocephalus ruffoi.
Parco Pollino: Between archeology and history
The Parco del Pollino, in addition to natural riches, also holds surprises from the historical-archaeological point of view, of which it preserves very important traces. Among the numerous caves present in the park there are some that bear the signs of the passage of prehistoric men, testifying to the presence of appropriations on the territory of the Pollino already in the Paleolithic Age. An extraordinary find that can be admired is the famous bas-relief of the shelter of the Romito, depicting two bovids (bos primigenius). The historical stratification of the territory continues with the presence of pre-Roman necropolises, Hellenic and Roman traces, ruins of the laity of the Basilian monks and Benedictine monasteries, castles, evocative Albanian settlements and ancient villages. Among the most interesting villages in which to stop there are San Paolo Albanese, Rotonda, Latronico, Castelluccio, Castelsaraceno, Viggianello and San Severino Lucano.