RESERVES AND PARKS
maintains numerous nature reserves and green areas. These, scattered
throughout the nine provinces, have remarkably increased in number
in the last half century.
Botanic Garden in Palermo, stretching over an area of 10 hectares,
is a real green lung and an important sanctuary for various plant
species. It also contains busts dedicated to historical figures.
Entella Grotto Nature Reserve, in the Palermo area, offers a splendid
environment that includes a man-made lake. It is close to archaeological-historical
cities Elima and Entellina and provides a critical habitat for a
rich wildlife, among which is the falco peregrinus.
a small island some 15km off the Palermo coast, is the Isola delle
Femmine (Island of Women) Nature Reserve with its lush vegetation
and a natural patrimony represented by leguminosae, graminaceous
and composite species; varieties of flowers like nigella, reeds,
romulea and Iris; numerous animal communities such as the mediterranean
gull, the crested lark and the heron. Remnants of Punic and Roman
amphoras were unearthed on the island.
Sugherata Reserve, stretching over an area of 3,000 hectares in
the territory of Niscemi, Caltanissetta, is mostly composed of holm-oaks,
evergreens and shrubs.
Monte Pellegrino Oriented Nature Reserve, in the Palermo province,
now entrusted to the Associazione Nazionale Rangers D’Italia,
is home to over a thousand plant and wildlife communities, the latter
also including a reptile group. The Favorita Park, within the reserve
boundries, was used as a royal hunting lodge at the time of Ferdinand
III of Bourbon. Many amazing sites can be found there, such as the
Valle del Porco, largely covered with rock-plants and holm-oaks.
The local fauna mainly consists of raptors like the buzzard, the
falco peregrinus and the stone-chat.
the Gela area, is the Nature Reserve of the Bievere Lake, housing
a variety of submerged and sheltering plants, such as orchids, the
rare white-broom and the corn-flower. This is most recommended for
nature lovers and birdwatchers, it being home to duck species like
the porchard and the widgeon, and to many migrators. Several mammal
species also inhabit the reserve such as the fox and the weasel,
and raptors like the duck-hawk and the marsh-herrier.
Grotta Conza Reserve, in the territory of Palermo, extends over
an area of 4 hectares largely populated by the Mediterranean bush.
The presence of limestone carbonate rocks gives this grotto-reserve
a geological importance.
LIPU oasis of the Montallegro Lake, Agrigento, covering an area
of 500,000 sqm, is a crucial stopping place for migratory birds.
Its scanty vegetation enhances birdwatching.
Reserve of Platani and Capo Bianco rivers, in the Agrigento area,
stretches on a rocky promontory with long beaches. The promontory,
once home to greek colonies – among which was Heraclea Minoa
– is an interesting archaeological park most characterized
by fine wooded stretches inhabited by foxes, weasels and duck-hawks.
Regional Nature Reserve Torre Salsa, in the Stella Mount district,
east of Siculiana Marittima, comprises the mouth of the Salso river
and a small sandy beach. Its pristine coastal environment is a major
attraction for ecotourists.
Etna Park offers a wide choice of spots; among these is the Valle
del Bove (Oxen Valley), a sunken area (hence called valley) with
great crevasses and chasms. Photography and nature lovers can enjoy
amazing sites and landscapes, such as Bocca Nuova, Monte Zuccolaro
or the Grotta delle Vannette. The Etna volcano has always been regarded
as a major symbol of Sicily. Today rising over 3,000m, it began
to form about 500,000 years ago. Its vegetation varies according
to altitude, ranging from pistachio and holm-oaks on the western
side, to bay-oaks, oaks, black hornbeams and chestnut woods on the
eastern side. Higher up are the remnants of ancient woods which
have been largely replaced by pastures and endemic plants.
Bosco di Santo Pietro, in the proximity of Caltagirone, in the southern
side of the Erei Mountains, has a richest flora composed of over
300 species, among which cork- and holm-oaks dominate. The fauna
is mostly represented by winged animals and migrators. Such spots
as the Cava Cannizzolo, the Cava Vaccarizzo and the Cava Imboscata
are a must-see.
area between Trapani and Paceco houses a fine nature reserve with
splendid naturalistic attractions and major stopping place for migratory
birds. Especially renowned are its salt pans, re-thriving of late,
after a period of decline.
Valle del Sosio, Agrigento, is particularly interesting, with numerous
fine spots and large areas of holm-oaks, walnuts, strawberry-trees.
Many fossils, today preserved at the Museum Geologico Gemellaro
in Palermo, were recovered across its territory.
the coast south of Siracusa is the beautiful Vendicari nature reserve,
a major rest place for the migratory avifauna. The Southernmost
of all Italian reserves, it is comprised of three large marshy areas
with several outlets to the sea. The site known as Calamosche, covering
its northern stretch, provides with a beautiful environment with
a richest marine wildlife and unspoilt sea floors. A variety of
flora inhabited the reserve, dominated by the mediterranean bush
and other plants such as the sea-fennel and the spiny chicory. The
local fauna includes the water-hen and several communities of migratory
birds. The site boasts an important history, having been a Phoenician
port and still housing such interesting archaeological specimens
as a necropolis and a church from the Byzantine age. A Swabian watch-tower,
referred to as the Castello di Vendicari, is situated there near
the Belice’s lower valley there is a gorgeous green area,
alas not protected by environmental laws; the site is known as the
Riserva del Castello della Pietra, deriving its name from a ruined
Norman fortification there located. Covered with a short vegetation,
natural bonsai species, capers and dwarf fan palms, it also houses
remnants from the Greek, Arab, Roman and Norman epochs.
the Messina province is the Valle degli Eremiti (the valley of the
hermits), a naturalistic site deriving its name from a neighboring
hill, once a refuge for hermits. A monastery, now reduced to ruins,
was erected here by the Carmelitani Friars in the 1500s. The valley
provides impressing spots for excursions on foot.
Parco Minerario Floristella Grottacalda, in the Enna province, was
an important mining area providing a livelyhood for thousands of
workers. Today, it represents a fine specimen of industrial archaeology,
combined with naturalistic spots, where visitors can still smell
the acrid scent of sulphur. The highly injured Palazzo Pennisi,
at Floristella, once the residence of the owners and the headquarter
of the mining business, is supposed to be soon restored to house
a Labour Museum.
Sambughetti-Campanito Oriented Nature Reserve, Enna, covers a large
area of mediterranean bush. Oaks, holm- and bay-oaks dominate the
landscape. The reserve includes the Sambughetti Mount (1508m), with
remains of an ancient beech-wood, and several small lakes.
Altesina Mount Oriented Nature Reserve, Enna, is a major tourism
attraction. Populated by pines, eucalyptuses and beech-woods, it
is home to a richest wildlife. A fine archaeological site and the
Nicoletti Park further enriches the Reserve.
Vittoria and Camarina, Ragusa, the Aleppo Pine Oriented Reserve
is a sanctuary for some of the last remaining specimens of kermes
oaks. The local fauna includes such species as the owl and the jay.
Oriented Nature Reserve of the Irminio River’s mouth, Ragusa,
offers a rich vegetation composed of a great variety of communities
such as the prickly juniper and the lentisk; on the riverside are
marsh-reeds, tamerisks and reeds. The fauna includes, among the
others, the marsh turtle, the coleopter and the nightingale.
most interesting and noted naturalistic area stretches from the
Lauro Mount to the Sicily Channel, still in the Ragusa district.
This provides a critical habitat for a variety of animals and plants.
It is divided into three large zones: the Dirillo riverside, the
Cava di Bocampello and the Cava Biddieni.
district of the Alcantara river is a major tourism resort, designated
a reserve as to preserve its precious resources and environment.
Rose in the Nebrodi mountains, the Alcantara river – one of
the four main rivers in Sicily – flows into the Ionian Sea,
after bathing several cities between Messina and Catania. First
just a little creek, it grows in size as it approaches the Etna
volcano. Its gradual erosion has created spectacular gorges, today
most crowded by tourists. The flora is mostly composed of citrus
grove, vineyard, oak wood, varieties of flowers, corn poppy and
myrtle. A richest wildlife, including communities of raptors and
migratory birds, inhabits the area.
Madonie Park comprises a range of impressing naturalistic places.
of rich Mediterranean bush stretches in the vicinity of Polizzi
Generosa, near Palermo. The area is scattered with farmhouses and
cave-dwellings where innumerable relics have been discovered. Nearby
is a fine site known as Padella, with splendid landscapes and spots
including a botanic garden.
site of high naturalistic and archaeological value is that bordered
by the San Calogero Mount and the valleys of the Torto and San Leonardo
rivers. Here stood the ancient Himera. A dam on the San Leonardo
river is today a major attraction for tourists.
Oriented Nature Reserve of Favara and Granza woods is a vast land
covered with trees like cork-oaks, holm-oaks and shrubs. It is home
to a rich fauna including the fox, the marten, reptiles, amphibians
vast area of the Sicani Mountains, in the Palermo province, offers
as much appreciated sites as those in the Nebrodi. With several
lakes – that of Prizzi is particularly interesting –
and naturalistic sites, it provides an ideal habitat for migratory
birds and other communities.
nature reserves of Monte Carcaci, a paradise of endemic plants,
and Monte Genuardo, covered by woods and a dense undergrowth inhabited
by rare raptors and mammals are also worth-mentioning. Here also
stands an Abbey, dedicated to Santa Maria del Bosco, dating from
the late 1500s.
Oriented Nature Reserve Bagni di Cefalà Diana e Pizzo Chiaristella
is especially noted for its Arab thermal baths.
Nature Reserve Pizzo Cane, Pizzo Trigna and Grotta Mazzamuto, one
of the largest in the province, features a mostly inaccessible territory
comprised of densest woods. It protect rare raptors such as the
royal eagle and the red kite.
reserve of Serre di Ciminna, with its uncontaminated landscapes,
is of high geological value, dating from the Miocene.
Integral Nature Reserve Grotta di Carburangeli is characterized
by interesting karst phenomenons. Rare specimens of stalagmites
and stalactites were created throughout the centuries by the constant
dripping of the water. A rare group of bats inhabits the Reserve,
what contributed to enhance its scientific importance.
Oriented Nature Reserve Capo Rama stretches on the coast facing
the Golfo di Castellammare and Terrasini. It provides with a striking
sea landscape with rocky strips, grassy vegetation, shrubs, dwarf
fan palms and other species.
Integral Natural Geological Reserve of Contrada Scaleri, in the
province of Caltanissetta, is splitted into two areas. Of high scientific
value for geomorfologic researches, this is the first reserve being
destined for mostly scientific research.
geoligical value is also the Integral Nature Reserve Lago Sfondato
thanks to the presence of sulphur and gypsum rocks and karst phenomenons.
The landscape sees a predominance of orchids and grassy vegetation.
The lake, on the slopes of the Monte Pestichino, has a karstic origin,
formed by the collapse of gypsum deposits.
Nebrodi Mountains, stretching along the thyrrenian coast of Sicily,
are characterized by densely wooded areas. The twenty-one municipalities
comprised in the territory retain much of their historical heritage,
with precious specimens of old fortifications and constructions.
Amazing lakes, valleys and peaks dominate the landscape; the richest
flora and fauna has been protected since the establishment of the
outstanding Parco Naturale Regionale dei Nebrodi. Here live the
tortois, the porcupin, the ousel, the hawk, the falcos peregrinus,
the owl, horses and many other animal communities. Several villages
in this area go back to the period of the Greek decline in Sicily,
founded by refugees who evaquated their threatened cities and moved
inland up the course of the main rivers. Relics of fortified cities
and hamlets contribute to the tourism importance of the Park. Especially
worth-seeing are the small cities of Ficarra, San Fratello, Montalbano
Elicona, S. Marco D’Alunzio, Mistretta, Roccella Valdemone.
Pergusa Lake district, in the Enna province, stretched, in ancient
times, over a vast territory populated by richest fauna, today rarer
and rarer. The decline, started under the Roman domination responsible
for a massive deforastation, continued throughout the centuries
notably due to the establishment of the landowning system. The situation
has only recently improved thanks to environmental measures and
restrictions (hunting was forbidden several years ago). Remains
of a necropolis and other relics were recovered from the Monte Cozzo
Matrice, one of the tallest peaks in the district.
Sperlinga, amidst a densely wooded area flows the Salso river, salted,
since it crosses some salt works on its course, and surrounded by
oaks and a rich fauna.
Altesina Mount, the tallest in the Erei Mountains, is home to archaeologic
relics and to an uncontaminated environment where bay-oaks, holm-oaks,
pines, eucalyptuses, poplars and mediterranean bush dominate the
landscape. A natural habitat for apennine fauna is here provided.
is the area known as Vallone di Piano della Corte, with abundant
precipitations throughout the year and impressing gorges.
mouth of the Belice River, declared as a Nature Reserve in 1984,
protects an endangered African landscape, with plenty of sandy dunes
and water courses. This area, running between Marinella di Selinunte
and Porto Palo, includes two fine coastal strips with aquatic and
marshy vegetation. It is a highly windy area with a sub-tropical
climate, covered by bushes and abundant grassy vegetation. Wildlife
includes the heron, the kingfisher, reptiles, the marine turtle
and other communities.
Gorgo Lake area, near Montallegro, is one of several green oasises
scattered around the Agrigento province. Albeit not largest, it
is considered a real ornithologic paradise. Interventions by both
WWF and LIPU have helped protect the area from poachers and pollution.
the Enna province are the Bosco di Rossomanno, between Aidone and
Piazza Armerina, well-endowed with natural resources and a rich
flora, the Bosco della Baronessa, which is a state property, and
the Vallone Strazzavertole, with abundant vegetation mostly composed
of oaks and holm-oaks.
Grotte della Gulfa, at a few distance from Alia, Palermo, is a complex
of caves and grottoes dug into a cliff, once used as a storehouse
by local peasants. Very characteristic is the Tholos, a wide circular
space of uncertain origin, inside the grotto, believed to date from
before the this was dug.
Montagna Grande Natural Park is a cherished jewel on Pantelleria
island, mostly covered with pines, holm-oaks and shrubs like the
prickly pear cactus, the wild broom, the lentisk and graminaceous
STATE FOREST PROPERTIES
tour through Sicily’s naturalistic riches comprises several
of what are referred to as Aree Attrezzate, several equipped state
forests and areas.
the Palermo province are:
covered by pines, aleppo pines, holm-oaks and bushes, and protecting
a fauna composed by the wild rabbit, sparrow communities and more;
Renda-Aglisotto, reafforested with Mediterranean, Canarian and black
pines, cypresses, holm-oaks and maples; the Gradara Mount, in a
mountainous landscape dominated by woods of pines and cypresses;
the Montagna Longa-Santa Venera; Santa Caterina, a wood at some
900m above sea level providing with a beautiful panorama; the Piano
Zucchi, in the heart of the Madonie mountains, with a profusion
of black pines, holm-oaks, cypresses and maples.
Trapani province includes a number of state forest areas:
Vetta, in the proximity of Erice, a natural area mostly covered
with holm-oaks and bay-oaks; the Monte Erice, with mediterranean
pines and eucalyptuses, and a man-made lake inhabited by ducks and
gooses; the Finestrelle, with an interesting Agri-Forestry museum
accessible with authorization by the local forest office; the Inici,
highly damaged by a fire but still offering a breathtaking coastal
view between Castellammare and Balestrate,
Cammarata Mount, comprising a densely wooded area of conifers; Monte
Sara, a 4 hectares wooded area of mediterranean pines and dwarf
fan palms; the Arancio Lake, rich in pines and eucalyptuses.
province of Caltanissetta comprises four equipped areas:
Parco Attrezzato Comunelli, covered with eucalyptuses and Mediterranean
pines, and comprising the Comunelli dam; Alzacuda and Raffo Rosso,
both rich in eucaliptyses and picturesque trails; Mustogarufi, with
fine trails most frequented by tourists.
48,000 hectares of woods, mostly composed of conifers, surround
the Etna volcano.
Boiardo, a wooded area with a predominance of poplars, maples and
pines; the Camisa, falling in Demanio Forestale Flascio (State property),
covered with plopars, cypresses, pines, bay-oaks and with a dense
undergrowth. Motorized vehicles are not allowed here. Nature lovers
can enjoy hikes along many beautiful trails; the Demanio Granvilla,
a state property with plenty of pines, cypresses, eucalyptuses and
a dense undergrowth; the Di Ganzaria district, a wood that offers
opportunity for amazing excursions and walks amidst mediterranean
pines, bay-oaks, cypresses, eucalyptuses, cork-oaks and a rich undergrowth.
Enna territory comprises:
Ronza, covered with pines, eucalyptuses, false acacias, hosting
a rich fauna including birds, fallow-deers and wild-boars. Provided
with developed accommodation facilities, this is much frequented
by tourists; Selsa Perugina, accessible not far from the Pergusa
Lake; the Casale, covered by chestnut and cherry trees.
state forests in the province of Messina are mainly scattered in
the Nebrodi and Peloritani Mountains. The vegetation here is that
typical of the mountainside spanning beeches, turkey-oaks, pines,
chestnut-trees. Several well-equipped areas have grown to remarkable
tourism resorts frequented all the year round; the Piano Margi,
covered with mediterranean pines and chestnuts, and home to an artificial
hilly lake and a towering rock called the Castello di Margi.
there are: the Madonnuzza, deriving its name from a church dedicated
to the Virgin of Camaro, largely composed by bay-oaks, pines and
chestnuts; the Crupi, with a nice pine-wood and accommodation facilities;
the Pantano, covered with pines and eucalyptuses, and only accessible
on foot; the Camaro, in the Peloritani Mountains, consisting of
an ancient forest in a highly panoramic position, dominated by pines
and acacias; the Erbe Verdi, with mediterranean and black pines.
is the Demanio Forestale Savoca, also known as Cavagna. This, accessible
through a wood of oaks and chestnuts, offers dramatic views of the
Misitano creek and the Etna volcano and is particularly renowned
for its delicious porcini mushrooms.
Ragusa province also counts a quantity of woods and forests often
alternating with fields zig-zagged by the typical dry-stone walls:
covered with mediterranean pines and oriental planes, and inhabited
by deers and wild-boars; the Bosco Arcibressi, accessible by a mountainous
densely wooded tract, with accommodation facilities, a fauna including
fallow-deers, tibetan goats and birds, and a lake inhabited by gooses
and ducks; the Canalazzo, a wood of most oaks, holm oaks and bay-oaks.
Monte Cofano, in the Trapani province, with its rich flora of most
endemic plants and dwarf fan palms closes the list.
The Holy Places
The Reserves and Parks
Guide of Sicily
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