La Sila National Park is the largest park and mountain range in Calabria. It expands into three provinces: Catanzaro (Sila Piccola), Cosenza (Sila Grande), and Crotone (Sila Greca).
On a nice day, is there anything better than getting outdoors and enjoying some fresh, clean air? And guess what? Sila is said to have the cleanest air in all of Europe!
Sila Grande offers lots of activities that you can do throughout the year. Here are some fun experiences you may want to include in your travel plans that are perfect during the warmer months. Traveling with kids? No worries, they’ll have a blast, too!
Ride a Steam Train
What better way to see the lush green landscapes of the Sila Mountains than on “La Vecchia Signora.” This locomotive train from the early 1900s takes you from Camgliatello Silano to San Nicola-Silvana Mansio at an altitude of over 1400 meters above sea level. During the journey, you’ll be immersed in nature and see views of the valley exploding with local pines, beech, and silver fir trees. One of the highlights of this experience is seeing the train turned around using two long planks so that she can continue her journey to her final destination. Il Treno della Sila is an entertaining way to experience this beautiful mountain region. Can you imagine how much fun the kids would have?
At the time of this post, the train only runs on Sundays, and you must book in advance. You can check availability and book online on the Treno della Sila website (in Italian).
The Giants of Sila
Located near Croce di Magara, you can visit the Giants of Sila. They are some of the last rare and ancient pine trees that reach upwards of 130 feet tall and date back over 350 years old! They were once part of a much larger forest, which unfortunately suffered at the hands of mankind. In fact, the reserve is what remains of the ancient forest that is believed to have been three times the size of what it is today.
So what exactly happened? Well, the deforestation of this area started back in Roman times to build ships. Later, populations used the trees not only for firewood but for a flammable resin that was extracted from the trees. You can see the fish-shaped marks on the trunks of some trees – a sort of scar from the extraction process. The last deforestation happened at the end of the Second World War when the wood was used to pay back debts incurred during the war. Finally, the land was given over to the Italian Forestry Commission, which declared this area a protected reserve.
Visitors of the Giants of Sila will enjoy a lovely walk enveloped in the glorious natural beauty of this area. Stand in the immense hollowed-out trunks, and be amazed at how these majestic trees have managed to survive all these years despite the ‘trauma’ they had to face. This experience will surely leave you with a greater appreciation for Mother Earth.
Opening Hours and Days of Operation vary depending on the season, so check the website ahead of time.
The Sila Mountains are home to high-quality, delicious local products, thanks to the dedication of the farmers who live there, some even for generations. You can find everything here from fresh cheese to cured meats to porcini mushrooms, as well as, Sila potatoes, which play a big part in many local dishes. As you can imagine, restaurants and farmhouses are ready to welcome visitors to their kitchens to sample the incomparable cuisine of this territory.
But, did you know you can also roll up your sleeves and enjoy some time in nature picking some of its delicious natural “treats”? By treats, we mean forest berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Does this sound like something you’d like to do? Well, one of the places you can check out is Fattoria Lorenzo Pupo, a family-run farm producing natural and genuine food products using organic methods for five generations. Located just a few kilometers from the center of Camigliatello Silano in the heart of the Sila National Park, this farm offers raspberry picking during certain times of the year.
Spend Some Time in Lorica
Lorica sits at an altitude of 1400 meters and overlooks one of Sila’s most well-known lakes, Lake Arvo. Here you’ll find a ton of interesting things to do to fully experience this mountain region. For avid hikers, there are a number of well-marked paths you can explore. If hiking isn’t your thing, take a “seggiovia” (covered ski lift) up Monte Botte Donato for a spectacular view. Then, head to Lake Arvo and book a boat trip on the lake with Navigare a Lorica. The small boat can carry up to 22 people and will take you on a 30-minute guided trip to admire the beauty surrounding the lake. The boat trip departs every 30 minutes from the pier located on Via Lungolago and is active all year round, except during the winter season.
Looking for some adventure? Visit Silavventura Park and immerse yourself in nature via rope bridges, cableways, suspended barrels, swings, and so much more. There are 14 acrobatic routes suspended among the tall pine trees to choose from. Prices vary based on age. There is also a mini-park for young explorers between the ages of 3 and 5. Are you interested in finding out more? Visit their website.
There are just a few things you can do in the Sila National Park, but there is so much more!
If you are interested in traveling to Calabria and including Sila in your vacation, contact us for more information!