Gran Sasso National Park:
- THE PARK
The Gran Sasso National Park is an area established in 1991, the third largest protected natural reserve in Italy for territorial extension. It is mostly located in Abruzzo (province of L'Aquila, Teramo and Pescara) and to a lesser extent in the adjacent areas of Lazio (Rieti) and the Marche (Ascoli Piceno). The park covers an area of approximately 141,341 hectares on a predominantly mountainous terrain, including the Gran Sasso d'Italia and the Laga Mounts chain situated in Central Apennines.
The territory is almost completely bare of vegetation for both the altitude and the deforestation of the past centuries. It has good arboreal and aviform biodiversity with eagles, hawks and numerous species of passeriforms during the migratory period. Neighboring medieval centers such as Castel del Monte, Calascio and Santo Stefano di Sessanio were in the past a reference point for sheep-farming and transhumance.
The Gran Sasso National Park embraces the territories of the Aquila basin, Emperor Field and Navelli Plain. Landscape contexts are of great interest because they are preserved in the original state, without significant invasive mansions, guaranteeing the almost total preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the affected municipalities. In the area of the Campo Imperatore the castle of Rocca Calascio was built by the Normans to watch over the valley below of the ancient Peltuinum (Prata d'Ansidonia).
Other medieval strongholds in the area are in the fortified citadel of Castel Camponeschi and in the castle of San Pio delle Camere. The plateau of Navelli is dominated by the summit of the perfectly conserved medieval hamlet, surmounted by Palazzo Santucci, erected above the castle, and by the watchtower of the castle of Bominaco, guarding the Monastic Complex of Santa Maria Assunta, of which today The frescoed oratorio of San Pellegrino and the church of Santa Maria Assumta remain until the 1423th abode of the abbey. The plateau is crossed by the axis of the transhumance L'Aquila-Foggia, ranging from rural churches of considerable size.
Campo Imperatore is home to a nice ski resort, one of the highest and most snowy in the entire chain. The lifts, which develop at the western end of the plateau comprise 3 plants covering a total of 15 km of ski slopes for alpine skiing. They add over 60 km to Nordic skiing and a snowboard snow park with half pipe and boarder cross, and a cross-country ski ring. Wide is also the possibility of mountaineering with different routes available. At the top there is a hostel and the already mentioned Hotel Campo Imperatore. The station is connected to the valley by the Gran Sasso cable car and has parking facilities and other facilities in Fonte Cerreto.
The protected area is also inhabited by numerous mammals and birds: the most interesting species of the Park is represented by the chamois of Abruzzo, the endemic ungulates of the Apennines, which until the last century got near extinct. The direct persecution of hunters led to the disappearance of the late '800. After one hundred years it had a come back thanks to a successful reintroduction operation (between 1992 and 1999) with a population rise currently attesting (2015) around 662 specimens.
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