Abruzzo National Park
Bears and Wolves
About 45 km S of Sulmona on unclassified roads. The park is part of the landscape and you do not know, without a map, when you are in or out of it. Over the years it has shrunk from a protected area covering all the central Apennines to its present 40,000 hectares and the shrinkage has made a dragnet of this craggy mountainland, altitude 700-2,000 m. Flora and fauna banished from other parts find a refuge here. Rare, but still around, are the Marsican brown bears, exclusive to the district. Wolves are rarer still. Chamois show themselves, particularly in the mating season. Other species include roe deer, wild cats, badgers and otters. Birdwatchers report eagles, eagle owls and some rare small bird species.
If you see no wildlife you cannot miss the splendour of beech forests and, above them, the karst (limestone) plateaux with crags and caverns and the pines which grow out of the sheer sides of profound gullies. Spring is the flowery season with masses of crocuses and gentians, daisies and irises among noble broad-leaved trees in the river meadows of the Sangro, which runs through the park. From Civitella Alfedena you could detour inside the park to Pescasseroli (birth-place of philosopher Benedetto Croce, 1866-1952; botanical garden, museum of natural history) and the source of the Sangro.