The Marsicano bear is the symbol of Abruzzo. Seeing this rare animal is a thrilling experience, though certainly not common. It is more usual instead to find traces of the brown bear’s presence, such as the tracks it leave in the earth or snow, or the large overturned rocks it moves in search of food.
The Abruzzo chamois is however easier to spot, with it’s exceptionally developed horns and beautifully coloured coat. Miraculously saved from extinction, the chamois is now colonising the main mountain areas.
The Apennine wolf is another important animal of the region. An interesting fact is that the wolf generally moves by placing all four paws in a single line, a characteristic certain to fascinate anyone who discovers the animals tracks. Other inhabitants of Abruzzo include wild boars, red deer and wild cats.
There are numerous bird species, of which the golden eagle takes pride of place. Other birds of prey that live in Abruzzo include the buzzard, the sparrowhawk and the peregrine falcon. At nigt you can hear the calls of noctural birds of prey, like the little owl, the tawny owl and the rare eagle owl. The woods are home to various species of woodpeckers, whilst marsh areas are a stop-over for herons, cranes and ibises.
The reptiles of the region include the orsini viper and the four-lined snake. There are also a few special amphibians, such as the spectacled salamander and the emerald toad.
As far as flora is concerned, the beech is the true lord of Abruzzo. The trees colours vary spectacularly with the changing of the seasons.
Between summer and spring, gentians, wild orchids, orange lilies and peonies are in bloom. Visit the plains of Campo Imperatore to be amazed by the beautiful displays of rare and endangered plant species.
As well as its 3 national parks, Abruzzo has many regional and state nature reserves, set up to preserve and protect this special environment and its inhabitants. At the natural reserve of the ‘Calanchi’ in Atri you can observe the spectacular silhouettes of the erosion furrows whose vegetation include many desert species. At the foot of the Gran Sasso, the nature reserve of Penne lake is amongst the most interesting in Abruzzo. It is home to many species, including the red heron, otters and the little egret.
The spectacular cavities in the Abruzzo mountains are breathtaking for nature lovers and can easily be visited. Between Sirente and the Aterno valley, the Stiffe caves are among the most beautiful and popular in Abruzzo. This wonderful underground system is a collection point for underground water and features numerous charming waterfalls and small lakes. Whereas the beautiful cave of the Grotta di Beatrice Cenci is full of stalactites and stalagmites and is also well-known for stone age finds of handmade goods.