Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga

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Established in 1991, Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga is mainly located in Abruzzo (provinces of L’Aquila, Teramo and Pescara) and partly in the the nearby areas of Lazio (Rieti) and Marche (Ascoli Piceno). It includes 44 municipalities and extends over 160000 hectares, of which 135000 in Abruzzo. The park hosts the entirety of the mountain ranges of Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga. Corno Grande, with its 2912 m of height, is the highest mountain in the Apennines. Here is also located Caldarone, the only glacier in the Apennines and the most southern in Europe.

South of the massif, there is the endless plain of Campo Imperatore, located at a latitude of 1600 m, about 20 km long and large between 3 and 7 km. Its dimension is astonishing and is always visible thanks to the herbaceous vegetation, with different characteristics according to morphology, wind and snow coverage. The vegetation is mainly characterised by vast fields of gramineous plants and by the Fiumara plants, such as Matthiola italica, an endemic plant with violet or yellow flowers and light green leaves, Dryas octopetala, symbol of the Artic, Sesleria caerulea, a very rare species that is found only in this area of the Apennines.

The Laga range, of particular importance from a geological and naturalistic point of view, also includes the peak of mount Gorzano (2458 m).


The flora of Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso d’Italia e Monti della Laga is extremely heterogeneous according to the area and altitude: woods of Pinus nigra and oaks; beech woods, chestnut woods, pastures. Abies alba small woods (Selva di Cortino, Bosco Maltese, Selva degli abeti) deserve a mention: they are the last witnesses of the ancient population of fir and beech in the Apennines. The fauna of the park is varied and it is represented by rare species, such as the wolf of the Apennines, wild cats and Abruzzo chamois, native of the Apennines and only recently reintroduced on the Gran Sasso with more than 100 specimens. Among the birds of prey there are specimens of golden eagle, peregrine falcon and goshawk. There many tracks through which you can visit the beauties of the park, such as Strada Maestra (running along the border between the Gran Sasso massif and the Laga range) and the Gran Sasso ippovia.

Ancient woods

In mountain areas, certain parts of woods have a physiognomy and structure that evolved over long periods of time, reaching a more advanced vegetation and structure development than the average Italian wood, where such processes were interrupted by the action of man (or, more rarely, by natural factors). This areas have the typical characteristics of old growth forests.

Within Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga there are three recognised old growth forests: Fonte Novello beech wood, Aschiero beech wood and Valle Vaccaro ash wood.


¡ Fonte Novello beech wood, located in Intermesoli, Pietracamela (TE), has 250 years old beech trees with diameters bigger than 1 m and more than 40 m high. The particular conditions of this ancient wood favour a rich and varied fauna with many mammals (deer, boar, wolf, roe deer), but also more demanding species like Dryobates minor, Dendrocopos leucotos, Sitta europaea, Ficedula albicollis, Certhia familiaris.

¡ Aschiero beech wood, in Prati di Tivo, Pietracamela (TE), extends over an area of 3 hectares with specimens with diameters above 1 m, the peculiarity of the Aschiero wood. Also, the presence of standing dead trees creates a “tree habitat” contributing to the richness of the environment, and therefore to biodiversity. Troglodytes troglodytes and Periparus ater live there.

¡ Valle Vaccaro ash wood, Crognaleto (TE), is a small fringe of wood dominated by the presence of Fraxinus excelsior, together with Acer pseudoplatanus and other species. The Valle Vaccaro ash wood is a veritable rarity in Italy: it is very difficult to find woods with a predominance of these species.

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