Few tourists find their way to Pollino – on of the large national parks Italy. A great pity considering the interesting sights and attractions. Here are 10 good reasons for visiting the area between Calabria and Basilicata.
Pollino qualifies as the largest natural park in Italy with a total area of 1820 square kilometres. The landscape is scared by deep gullies. There are dramatic rivers, secluded lakes and shady woodlands with kites and eagles circling overhead. Along with some very charming towns and villages where ancient traditions and rites are still observed.
The villages San Paolo and San Constantino Albanese are home to an Albanian community who came to Lucania between the 15th and the 17th century. They still have their own language and customs that include a bright colourful dress for women, particular food and elaborate Easter rites.
A century ago, this area then known as Lucania was controlled by outlaw gangs, highway robbers and other ‘brigante’ bandits. One of the legendary bandits was Antonio Franco, and it is said that the treasures he accumulated never have been found, so keep your eyes open if you hike along the Via del Brigante around the Pollino Mountain.
To reach the mountain tops in 2267 metres altitude, you pass through forest of beech and silver fir that makes to think you have fallen asleep and woken up in Sweden. These areas a difficult to navigate and a local expert guide is required.
For some reason the artificial lake Lago di Monte Cotugno always makes me think of ‘Tintin and the Lake of Sharks’. It has the same colours and deserted quality, even though it is supposed to be great fishing waters.
Nearby Senise is particularly famous for the local chilli peppers called ‘zafarani’. They have received igp recognition and are served in innumerable different versions as for example marmalade and crisps.