The “Parco dell’Etna” (Park of the Etna)
The “Parco dell’Etna” (Park of the Etna) was the first to be established in Sicily in 1987.
To protect this unique natural environment and the extraordinary surrounding landscape, the following areas were demarcated:
– ZONE A: 19,000 hectares of great uncontaminated areas, where no human settlements are present. For this zone the goal of the park is to protect natural ecosystems and let nature do its course;
– ZONE B: 26,000 hectares characterized by private agricultural allotments, by the presence of millstones and manor houses, all signs of still active human presence in the area. For this area the goal of the park is to ensure that the traditional activities of the local communities continue to be carried out and prevent this cultural heritage to be lost.
Another area of 14,000 hectares, is called pre-park, where it is possible to create eventually new tourist facilities in respect of the landscape and nature.
Municipalities whose territories are within the Park are: Adrano, Belpasso, Biancavilla, Bronte, Castiglione di Sicilia, Giarre, Linguaglossa, Maletto, Mascali, Milo, Nicolosi, Pedara, Piedimonte Etneo, Randazzo, Ragalna, S. Alfio, S. Maria of Licodia, Trecastagni, Viagrande, Zafferana Etnea.
The landscape of the park is very diverse: areas where no form of life is present due to the recent lava flows alternate with areas with natural formations of black pines (pinus nigra laricio), beeches and birches and at lower altitutes oaks and chestnuts alternates with terracings where pears, apples, grapes, hazelnuts and pistachios of especially appreciated quality are cultivated.
The particular characteristics of the soil and the microclimate of the Etna area make possible the production of DOC grapes and wines that meet more and more the taste of connoisseurs and consumers worldwide. Several Park Municipalities are in fact part of the National Association “City of Wine” and are connected by the “Wine Route of Etna”.
Among the other plant species that characterize the landscape of Etna are also to remember the Mount Etna broom (genista aetnesis), the cushion-shaped Sicilian Milkvetch (astragalus siculus), the Senecio (senecio squalidus), the Viola and the Cerastium tomentosum (snow in summer). Regarding the wildlife, there still live on the volcano: the crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata), the fox, the wild cat, the marten, the rabbit, the hare, the weasel, the hedgehog, the edible dormouse (Glis glis), the garden dormouse (Eliomys quercinus) and several species of birds, in particular raptors (the sparrowhawk, the buzzard, the kestrel, the peregrine falcon, the golden eagle, the barn owl, the scops owl, the tawny owl and the long-eared owl known as typical owl).
Visitors can admire the beauty of the park by walking along the many “nature trails” differentiated according to length and different degree of difficulty.
Information taken from the guidebook of “Parco dell’Etna”. For more information http://www.parcoetna.ct.it