There are many national parks in Italy that are loved and frequented by foreign tourists. The Pollino national park is not among them. Yes, there are international visitors trickling in but it remains largely unknown outside of Italy despite the fact that Pollino is the biggest national park in this country with 1,820 square kilometres covering parts of Basilicata and Calabria.
There are many things to do in the Pollino park: canyoning in the dramatic gorges of the Raganello river, climbing dizzying rock walls, descend in dark deep caves that haven’t been fully explored yet (yes, you read it right! There are still little-known areas in Pollino!!), walk along ancient mule tracks. The Pollino park boasts a large patch of rare Bosnian pines that grow only here and in a small area in the Balkans. To see them in a remote area called the Grande Porta del Pollino we had to do a two-hour drive in an off-road car and then walk for almost an hour. Yet the incredible view over the mountains and the majestic beauty of the centuries-old pines were certainly worth the trip.
Centuries-old Bosnian pines
A small town of Civita is a great base for enjoying canyoning in the lower gorges of the Raganello river. There are some fantastic walks with panoramic views around Civita. A small company called Raganello Tour organises off-road trips in the area for adventurous travellers.
Raganello Tour off-road mini-bus
For discovering the higher gorges, it is better to stop at a small mountain hamlet of San Lorenzo Bellizzi. From here you can admire the timpe that the area is famous for. Timpe are stunning rock formations with one vertical side. Our guide Nino Larocca brought us to the best places from which we could admire the dramatic drops of the timpe. He is a treasure-trove of knowledge, full of stories and local legends. He is the official Pollino national park guide that knows every mule track, every stream and tree around there.
During the Blog Trip Adventure Calabria in the Pollino park I was amazed by the beauty and hospitality of the land as well as by virtually non-existent management of the park. There are no signs or properly marked paths, maps of itineraries are fragmented and only exist for some areas, so if you like exploring – this is the area for you. However, the best way to do it is with an expert guide for all of the above reasons. You will certainly feel far away from civilisation, as there is no phone coverage in the major part the park’s territory.
Where to stay
San Lorenzo Bellizzi:
Agriturismo Grampollina Tel. 0039 3687779078
Guide Nino Larocca Tel. 0039 3497966734, email: firstname.lastname@example.org