Monti Sibillini National Park
18 July 2022
There are plenty of itineraries available to visitors to explore the beauty of the Park. To visit them in RV, motorcycle or car you can take the Grande Via of the Parkand choose among six loop routes (for a total network of 450 km) built on existing roads and well marked. There are also trails to explore on foot or on mountain bike. These too are always well marked to make it easy to maintain one’s direction and they are also available on-line to best prepare before tackling them. Particularly interesting are some of the themed trails, such as the Saffron one, which bears this name because it follows the ancient road between the locations where this ancient spice was harvested, processed and traded.
Sports in the area
The area, located among valleys, hills and mountains offers the opportunities to enjoy a variety of sports, some of them within everyone's reach, like the activities in the snow during winter. For example, Frontignano Ussita is one of the major ski resorts in central Italy and it offers 8 downhill slopes, a snowpark, a toboggan run and bobsleds and a school camp. Other sports available, for fearless adventurers and experts, are mountain climbing, gliding and paragliding. Finally, there is also the possibility to try your hand at rafting and canyoning along the many rivers and streams that cross the Park both towards the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea.
There are many places of historical and naturalistic interest in the Park and there are also many initiatives in which visitors can participate. How to benefit from a full immersion in nature. This activity now has a name: Forest Bathing, with several scientific acknowledgments, it follows Japanese insight. In the heart of the Rising Sun, ways of enjoying the woods through an "immersion" (Shinrin Yoku) in nature to decrease stress and tension is researched. These effects are believed to be enhanced by holm oaks, chestnut, beech, and fir trees found in large numbers in the Park. A completely different experience is that of a visit at the Butterfly Garden Museum: here it is possible to learn about the amazing aspects of these short-lived, fragile, but beautiful insects. The Museum of the Sibilla Cave is also a mandatory stop to get to know the soul of the park. The items on display, including ancient books and parchments, bear witness to the very close relationship between the landscape and the urban fabric.
Among the many villages nestled in the area of the Park, Norcia must be mentioned together with its glorious past full of art, history and spirituality, and a vivid present, still protected by the walls that have surrounded the city since the Thirteenth century and where St. Benedict was born. Another location worthy of a visit is undoubtedly Castelsantangelo sul Nera, whose origins date back to the year 1300, when the populations of the valley, tired of the raids and incursions in their village, built the castle and asked for the protection of Archangel Gabriel. The urban layout of this small town is a jewel of medieval architecture, with fortified walls, walkways and battlements. Due to the uniqueness of its location, we must also mention the village of Arquata del Tronto, the only town in Europe that is located within the area of two National Parks: that of the Sibillini Mountains to the north and that of the Gran Sasso and Della Laga Mountains to the south (in the region of Abruzzo).
Taste is at home in the lands of the park: a crossroad of ancient gastronomic traditions resulting from sheep farming, agriculture and pork butchery. The memory of transhumance can be found in the local pecorino cheese, in fresh or aged ricotta, in the goat's milk cheese or in the tomini made from mixed milk. From the soil then come products of excellence such as the lentils of Castelluccio PGI, wheat and corn for the flours, and even mushrooms and truffles. Italian charcuterie (norcineria, in fact) such as coppe di testa, lonze, capocolli, salami and prosciutto (such as Norcia PGI) are the final touches to the local food productions.
The park hosts many accommodation facilities, ideal for spending days in contact with nature: hotels, hostels, B&B, agritourism establishments and lodges. Located throughout the park area, from the villages to forests, in addition to sleeping accommodations there are restaurants, agritourism establishments and lodges where one can enjoy a dish of local delicacies. There are also plenty of campsites for those who prefer this option.
Among the services available at the park - in addition to the many bike rental points for every need (and skill level) - there are guided tours to be enjoyed by foot or bicycle to closely discover the secrets of the flora and fauna of the park. It is also possible, thanks to the various horseback riding establishments, to enjoy excursions on horseback. Given the heights reached by the mountains of the park, there are also plenty of sports activities to enjoy in the snow during the winter season.