Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park - Abruzzo


The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park is located in the provinces of Ascoli Piceno, L'Aquila, Pescara, Rieti and Teramo and was established with Law 394 of 6 December 1991 with subsequent amendments in the D.P.R. of 5 June 1995.

The park brings together two mountains that are close but very different in their origin, appearance and character. Although the origin of both these massifs are ancient seas, the differences are substantial. In place of the Gran Sasso there was a shallow tropical seabed, where the activity of the madrepores and coral reefs has accumulated a limestone layer. Later, the approach to Europe of the African continental plate caused the lifting of this limestone layer and the Gran Sasso began to take shape.The group of Monti della Laga originated from a deep sea and the layers of sandstone and clay that constitute the massive are the result of the deposition of sediments, especially sandy, carried by sea currents. Subsequently the tectonic thrusts coming from the Tyrrhenian towards the Adriatic pushed these sedimentary bottoms upwards.

The most important thing about these two mountains is the availability of water. The Gran Sasso appears poor in water because the water infiltrates the fractured limestone rocks and accumulates in a large underground aquifer; as for the Laga, the water does not infiltrate easily and so the slopes of these mountains are full of streams and waterfalls.

We recall that the Gran Sasso is the highest mountain in the Apennines (the Corno Grande reaches 2,912 meters), and is home to the only Apennine glacier, the Calderone.

Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park

The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park is a natural park located mostly in Abruzzo, Italy. It was established in 1991, it has an area of ​​2,014 square kilometers (778 sq mi), and it is mainly spread out across the province of Teramo, L'Aquila, Pescara, with small areas in the province of Rieti and Ascoli Piceno. The terrain is predominantly mountainous with alpine plains.

It is managed by Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park Authority, with headquarters in Assergi, L'Aquila.

The Grand Highway of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park runs through the park between the Gran Sasso mountain peak and the chain known as Monti della Laga.

A European monument to biodiversity

The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, with its 150,000 hectares of extension, is one of the largest in Italy. The variety and naturalistic richness of its massifs and the different sides, the suggestive historical-architectural testimonies are reflected in a multitude of proposals, itineraries and visits for all seasons of the year. The Park encompasses three mountain groups - the Gran Sasso d'Italia chain, the Laga massif, the Monti Gemelli - and is characterized by the presence of the highest peak in the Apennines, the Corno Grande, which reaches 2912 meters. On this chain there is also the only Apennine glacier, the Calderone, the southernmost in Europe.

Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park - Abruzzo

Composed of two different geological entities, the Gran Sasso massif (limestone, karst, arid and mainly rocky) and that of the Laga (arenaceous-marly, densely wooded, rich in surface waters), the Park has very different natural environments . Consequently, a diversified flora and fauna, with the two massifs, literally wedged together in the upper Val Vomano, which are in perfect ecological continuity. An extraordinary geographical and natural environment, inextricably intertwined with the millennial human presence testified by the endless pastures, high altitude cultivations, medieval villages, churches, castles.

The park has an area of ​​148,935 hectares and marginally also affects Lazio and the Marches. The Abruzzo part, which consists of nine tenths of the total area, affects the provinces of Teramo, L'Aquila and Pescara with forty municipalities, the one in the Marche region touches only the province of Ascoli Piceno with two municipalities, and the Lazio one the province of Rieti always with two municipalities. The Gran Sasso massif is the most important mountain complex of the Apennines, with the majesty of its peaks of dolomitic rock, the highest of the entire chain, which culminate in the Corno Grande (2912 meters), in the Corno Piccolo, in the Pizzo d 'Intermesoli and in the Monte Bandiera. It hosts the Calderone glacier, the only one in the Apennines as well as the southernmost in Europe, and is flanked to the south by the Campo Imperatore plateau, an endless high-altitude karst land (between 1600 and over 2000 meters above sea level. ) of breathtaking beauty, the closest thing to Tibet can be found in Europe. Its morphology is characterized by high vertical walls, moraines, glacial cirques, valleys, cliffs, karst fields and the numerous lakes, also of karst origin, to the north-west, merging with the Monti della Laga, geologically different because they are made up of marl and sandstone , which affect the northern sector of the Park and are located between the three regions (Abruzzo, Lazio and Marche).

The human use of these mountains is deduced from the different forest cover, continuous and thick on the Teramo slopes of the Gran Sasso and Laga, with a clear preponderance of meadows and pastures on the L'Aquila side of the Gran Sasso and in the Lazio side of the Laga, to testify 'mainly grazing in the southern sectors and the forestry in the north and east. The vegetation includes the beech woods on the Laga (with the rare silver fir, glacial relict at these latitudes) and on the Teramo side of the Gran Sasso, pastures in Campo Imperatore and on the Voltigno and magnificent high altitude blooms. The naturalistic aspects are not the only attraction of this park, which indeed is characterized by a communion, an inextricable intertwining in its landscapes between nature and human presence. The countless ancient villages and castles scattered on its slopes dominating the intramontane basins are testimony to this: on the Teramo side, first of all the small abandoned medieval villages among the woods of the Laga and the hermitages of the Montagna dei Fiori, the splendid Renaissance center of Campli, Civitella del Tronto with its mighty fortress, the spectacular ruins of Castel Manfrino overlooking the Salinello gorges, the medieval castles of Castel di Luco and Piano di Roseto, Castles with the shops of the well-known and precious ceramics and the oratory of San Donato (called the "Sistine Chapel of majolica"), the delightful historic centers of Isola del Gran Sasso, Cortino, Valle Castellana, Tossicia, Pietracamela on the L'Aquila side, Campotosto with its large lake, the ancient historic centers of Gran Sasso, with their medieval atmosphere intact: Assergi, Barisciano, Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Calascio with its splendid fortress, Castelvecchio Calvisio and Carapelle Calvisio , Castel del Monte, Ofena, Bussi sul Tirino on the Pescara side, steeply sloping down towards the hills and the sea, Farindola, with its well-known pecorino cheese.

WWF and Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park sign an agreement for the environment

The Eagle. An important agreement was signed today in Assergi, in the province of L'Aquila, between WWF Italia and the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. Signed by the park president, Tommaso Navarra, and the president of WWF Italy, Donatella Bianchi.

At the heart of the agreement is the promotion of environmental education and awareness-raising activities on issues related to environmental protection, scientific research, respect for legality, promotion and implementation of traditional recreational, tourist and economic activities, compatible with conservation, protection and the enhancement of the Park's biodiversity and implementation of common communication, information and training events for citizens, tourists, visitors, but also direct conservation actions and the activation of specific conservation projects and related public or private funding. Finally, the exchange of reciprocal training activities for staff, both organic and voluntary, of the WWF and the Park.

The collaboration signed today will also activate collaborations between schools in the municipalities falling within the territory of the Park Authority and the Education Network of WWF Italy, through the implementation of environmental education projects.

"We strongly wanted the signing of this important convention in order to be able to concretely open the Park institution to one of the most important associations operating at international level for the protection of the environment and our extraordinary matrices", declared Tommaso Navarra, President of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, "this is a first start that I am sure we will soon be able to decline into the best possible actions to protect our extraordinary biodiversity heritage, starting immediately from the Marsican bear, now permanently present also in the our territory ".

For the WWF, the mountain groups of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga, Park since 1991, have always been places of great activity, since the battles for its birth and then for the protection of the Gran Sasso aquifer which provides excellent water to over 700,000 people from Abruzzo. Here the WWF in the 70s organized some of its first volunteer and trekking camps and here was born, even before the institution of the park, the Environmental Education Center "Monti della Laga" which still today is operating in the municipality of Cortino (TE), a small mountain center of the Park. Inside the park there is also the WWF Oasis of Lago Secco in the municipality of Accumuli (RI), on the Lazio side, while just outside the borders on the Pescara side there is the WWF Oasis of Lake Penne (PE), one of the park gates.

"We are happy with this collaboration that will stimulate, we are sure, common initiatives in the field of conservation and public awareness", declared Donatella Bianchi, President of WWF Italia, "the Gran Sasso Park, one of the largest protected areas del Belpaese, hosts extraordinary species of our fauna, such as the wolf and the chamois of Abruzzo, and together we will be able to better tell the new generations why it is important to work with protected natural areas so that species and habitats at risk have a future ".


In the heart of the Apennines between Abruzzo, Lazio and Marche lies one of the largest areas of biodiversity that can be admired in all of Europe.
The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park offers unparalleled shows for all those who come to visit it.
An explosion of colors, flavors and sounds that change with the rhythm of the different seasons will leave even the most demanding of visitors speechless.
Inside the park you have the opportunity to have a close encounter with some extremely rare species of animals such as: the Apennine chamois, symbol of the Park, the Marsican brown bear (there are between 30 and 40 specimens in the area), the deer, the wolf and the roe deer among the large mammals, the golden eagle, the griffon vulture, the owl, the tawny owl and the peephole, for avifauna lovers.
An immense variety of flowers and plants awaits you to surprise your sight at different times of the day and depending on the season in which you are, giving life to an exciting dance of colors that stands out between huge Dolomite boulders and soft and verdant plateaus.
Some must-see destinations for those who visit the park are:

-the Campotosto lake, the largest lake in Abruzzo, is an artificial lake that was born in 1939 thanks to the construction of three large dams

-Santo Stefano di Sessanio

-Campo Imperatore, the largest plateau in the park, of breathtaking beauty, more than twenty kilometers long and about seven wide, home to the summer pastures of herds and flocks. From here the road opens for a visit to the Corno Grande of the Gran Sasso chain.

-Rocca Calascio, the famous castle, the highest in the Apennines, which dominates the southern slope of the Gran Sasso, and from which, thanks to its strategic position, you can admire the enchanted landscape of plain of Navelli on one side and on the other that of the Campo Imperatore plateau.

Do not miss a visit to the National Laboratory of Nuclear Physics of Gran Sasso inaugurated in 1985 and unique in the world for its 1400 meters of limestone that separates it from the surface and filters the radiation coming from space, it is possible to visit it by appointment on the first and third Saturday of the month.

Rocca Calascio Castle

Camponeschi Castle

Castel del Monte


The park is one of the largest protected areas in Europe, and is centered around the massif of the Gran Sasso, which dominates the surrounding landscape it rises vertically on the immense pastures of the Campo Imperatore. The land is very rocky and receives a large amount of snow and wind. The Calderone lies just beneath the tallest peak, the Corno Grande, and it is considered to be Europe's southernmost glacier. On the north side there is the profile of Monti della Laga chain, where thousands of migratory birds stop on the shores of Lake Campotosto. This area is completely covered by woods of beeches, firs, turkey oaks and chestnuts. There are over 200 kilometers (120 mi) of dedicated horse trails that can be used to visit the park.

The park contains one of the most biologically diverse areas of Europe. The climate is between that of the Mediterranean and that of the rest of continental Europe. The park contains more than two thousand plant species, some of which are found exclusively in this area, such as the Abruzzo Edelweiss. Many species of wildlife inhabit the park, including rare animals such as the Abruzzo chamois, as well as wolves, Marsican brown bear, roe deer, wildcats, wild boars, foxes and squirrels. Notable birds include the golden eagle, the white-backed woodpecker, the goshawk, the common buzzard and the peregrine falcon. There are also a wide variety of insects, such as the apollo butterfly.

The park contains a very long circuit of approximately 300 kilometers (190 mi) featuring trails that can be visited on horseback, by mountain bike, or on foot.

Educational projects are active in the park visitor centers, and trails and paths can be freely explored alone or with the assistance of mountain guides.

Many old villages are located within the confines the national park. They tend to be quite small, with stone and brick houses and narrow streets. In many cases, the place names highlight the defensive nature of the settlement and a summit position, such as Castel (castle), Rocca, Pizzo (peak), and Colle (hill).

Video: 18 - Reportage nel Parco Nazionale Gran Sasso Monti della Laga

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