The territory of Sila National Park covers approximately 74 hectares of Calabria. It’s situated in between three provinces – Crotone, Catanzaro and Cosenza, and expands over all three.
The Sila Plateau is a continuation of the Apennine Mountains, extending along the length of the Apennine peninsula – the boot of Italy. Locals divide the territory of Sila into three parts – Sila Grande (big), Sila Piccola (small) and Sila Greca (Greek). The highest peaks of the plateau are Monte Botte Donato (1928m) and Monte Gariglione (1764m), which are both accessible by car for those not up for hiking. Either way, the view deserves to be seen! According to the 2010’s research by scientists of Modena, the Sila National Park reserve has the cleanest air in Europe. Sila is also known to have the cleanest water in Calabria; locals often come here to fill their bottles up with artisan water from the nearest fountains.
The climate in the north of Sila varies greatly from the south – in summer, when the seacoast villages are scorched by the sun, the air in Sila stays crisp and fresh. You might even need a light jacket in the evening. However, it’s also much colder up there in winter. In fact, during the winter, Sila turns into the biggest and the most popular ski resort in the whole south of Italy!
Lakes of Sila national park
The three big lakes in the park – Arvo, Cecita and Ampollino – are artificial and were originally intended for building a hydroelectric power station, which is still functioning today. Curious minds are advised to check out the ‘Museo dell’acqua e dell’enegia’ (Museum of hydroelectronic power) located at Ampollino. The lakes are all open for canoeing and fishing, with boat rentals also available.
Activities and food experience
Although the locals often only do one-day trips to Sila, it’s definitely worth staying overnight. After a long day trekking the nature trails and basking in the fresh air, what’s more relaxing than coming back to a cozy B&B or a small hotel in one of the quaint mountain villages of Sila? The biggest villages are Lorica at Lake Arvo and Camigliatello Silano, which is closer to Lake Cecita. You can enjoy a late dinner with homemade wine in one of the local restaurants or pick up some fresh groceries and local produce like mushrooms, jams, meat, spices, etc. in the stores scattered over the small villages. As a matter of fact, the food experience in Sila is really something to be savored! In most of the local restaurants you will be offered traditional Calabrian dishes: polpettine (little croquettes made of eggplant, broccoli, potatoes or sometimes meat), patate mpacciuse (homemade potato chips), sardella and nduja (spicy spreads made of sardines or meat), and of course porcini mushrooms cooked in various ways, bread and wine.
For a pure gastronomic experience, a visit to the Farmers Market at Camigliatello is an absolute must. This is where your vibrant Italian food market fantasies are realized! An array of various local cheeses, homemade wine and meat products such as the typical Calabrian soppressata are dispersed throughout the stalls for you to taste your way into practicing Italian with the friendly locals. We challenge you to leave empty handed!