Discovering the green lung of Sicily

The Nebrodi are a mountain range in the province of Messina, part of the Sicilian Apennines. They overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north and Mount Etna to the south.

The landscape is asymmetrical and the humid climate favors the development of both fauna and thick vegetation.

The woods that cover it make up the Nebrodi Regional Park, which with its 86,000 hectares is the largest protected natural area in Sicily.

The climate of the territory differs heavily from that of the Sicilian coasts due to the wooded complexes, which lead to longer winters and hot but not sultry summers. The average internal temperatures do not tend to exceed 8 and 12 ° C, with atmospheric phenomena such as snow and fog not at all rare, but which guarantee the right degree of humidity for the existence of certain types of wood, such as beech.

One of the symbols of the park is the Biviere di Cesarò Lake, whose clear waters do not fail to catch the eye.

It is immersed in a dense valley floor of the Sollazzo Verde beech forest, on the southern slope of the Nebrodi chain, at an altitude of 1278 meters above sea level, it stretches between the beech forests of the north-eastern slopes of Monte Soro and the north-western ones of Monte Scafi about 5 kilometers from artificial lake Maulazzo.

The latter is a small artificial lake of about 5 hectares in the Nebrodi Park, located in the Sollazzo Verde beech forest, falling within the municipality of Alcara Li Fusi and located on the slopes of Monte Soro. It was built around the 80s by the Forestry Corps of the Sicilian region.

The Catafurco waterfall is a natural waterfall that forms at a height difference of about 30 m along the course of the San Basilio stream. At the base of the waterfall the waters gather in a natural cavity, dug into the rock, called the Marmitta dei Giganti, where, in the summer, it is possible to bathe.

You can find free herds of Sanfratellana horses galloping along the beech forest of Monte Soro, the highest peak of the Nebrodi, or admire the beauty of the views, with the silhouette of Etna visible in the distance.

The flora in the thermo-Mediterranean belt (700-800 meters above sea level) is covered by evergreen woods, alternating with areas of Mediterranean scrub which includes species such as Erica arborea, spiny broom, strawberry tree, myrtle, euphorbia, mastic and the holm oak.

Higher up (1000-1200 meters above sea level), the mesomediterranean belt made up of deciduous woods dominated by the oak forests of Quercus gussonei, a species similar to Turkey oak but distinct morphologically from it, and, on the southern side, by a particular type of downy oak, Quercus congesta. In some areas, such as in the territory of San Fratello, strips of holm oak are also found while the non-forested areas are occupied by shrubs which include blackthorn, hawthorn, dog rose, Rosa sempervirens, wild apple, Pyrus amygdaliformis and Rubus ulmifolius.

Beyond this point we find the supramediterranean belt, where extensive woodland formations of cerreta and beech forest are located. This is the southern limit of the beech area. Another peculiar element is represented by the presence of the mountain maple, of which a specimen 22 meters high and 6 meters in circumference is reported, listed among the monumental trees of Italy. The lush undergrowth features various species of plants including holly, butcher's broom, hawthorn and badger. The latter species is present, within the Tassita wood, with majestic specimens that reach 25 meters in height.

Once a kingdom of fawns, the Nebrodi (whose meaning derives from the Greek Nebros, which means deer) still constitute the richest part of Sicily in fauna, despite the progressive environmental impoverishment. The Park is home to rich and complex wildlife communities.

Mammals include the Nebrodi black pig, wild boars, foxes, porcupines, hedgehogs, wild cats, martens, weasels, hares, rabbits, dormice (albeit rare), Savi's vole, wild mouse, baby octopus, shrew of Sicily, mustiolo and quercino.

Among the reptiles the common tortoise and the Sicilian marsh tortoise, the western green lizard, the luscengola and the gongilo. Numerous species of snakes including the rat snake and the collared natrice.

Among the amphibians there are the discoglossus, the Sicilian emerald toad and the lesser green frog.

About 150 bird species have been classified, including some endemic species of great interest such as the Sicilian Marsh Tit and the Sicilian Long-tailed Tit. The open areas on the edge of the woods offer hospitality to many birds of prey such as the Sparrowhawk, the Buzzard, the Kestrel, the Peregrine Falcon, and the Allocco while the rugged and fissured rocky areas of the Rocche del Crasto are the kingdom of the Golden Eagle. The Little Grebe, the Coot, the Yellow Wagtail, the Dipper and the Kingfisher

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