nazionale dell’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise
This National Park pays a crucial role in preserving wolves and bears.
The park, which was founded in 1922, initially covered only the Abruzzo mountain ranges, but was later expanded to
include territories from the three central Italian regions.
It is a place of soft, round peaks
and sheer, steep slopes, carpeted by wild orchids and irises, native pine trees and, most of all, thick beech forests.
Despite having a chequered history—the park lost some 650,000 trees in just over ten years before logging was
prohibited in 1969—the beech woods are now flourishing, and provide shelter and food to the area’s most illustrious
and endangered inhabitant, the indigenous brown bear.
by poaching and habitat loss, the stocky omnivore, called Orso bruno marsicano, is at risk of extinction. Only some 40 or
50 bears remain in the park, hiding by day and roaming the forests at night in search of fruit, berries, roots and small animals.
The woods are also home to another endangered predator—the Italian
wolf. During the day, the packs seek refuge in the park’s wildest, most inaccessible corners, from which they emerge
at night to hunt for deer and wild boar.
Looking for prey, wolves sometimes range out of the woods into the highland
meadows that are the reign of another indigenous species, the Abruzzo chamois. These shy mountain goats live in herds on the
highest plateaus, feeding on violet fescue. Their numbers have somewhat recovered in recent years, but they remain at risk
of extinction. They are also extremely hard to spot, ready as they are to bolt at the first sign of human presence.
But even though you may not be rewarded by sightings of chamois, wolves and bears, a walk along one of the park’s
trails reveals traces of their passage, as well as wild flowers and songbirds, majestic trees and birds of prey. To improve
your wildlife-spotting chances, keep absolutely silent.