Parks and protected areas in Sicily
La Sicilia vanta cinque parchi regionali e 72 riserve naturali, l'Etna - il vulcano attivo più alto d'Europa - boschi, vallate, gole, fiumi popolati di uccelli, mammiferi e invertebrati
The protected natural areas of Sicily include five regional parks, occupying an area of 185,824 hectares (7,2% of the regional territory) and 72 regional natural reserves with a total area of 85,181 hectares (3,3% of the regional territory).
The Madonie Regional Park (Parco delle Madonie) includes 15 municipalities in the province of Palermo (Caltavuturo, Castelbuono, Castellana Sicula, Cefalù, Collesano, Geraci Siculo, Gratteri, Isnello, Petralia Soprana, Petralia Sottana, Polizzi Generosa, Pollina, San Mauro Castelverde, Scillato e Sclafani Bagni). The park includes the Madonie Mountains along the Sicilian north coast, between the Imera and Pollina rivers. The park has a great variety of plants, birds, mammals and invertebrates. Due to its geological characteristics, the Madonie Regional Park has been part of the European Geopark network since 2003.
The Nebrodi Regional Park (Parco Regionale dei Nebrodi), covers 86,000 hectares and is the widest protected area in Sicily. It stretches from the Tyrrhenian Sea in the north to the volcano Etna in the south, specifically between the Alcantara and Simeto rivers.
From just a few meters above sea level the park reaches a height of 1847m with Mount Soro. The other main peaks are Serra Del Re (1754m), Pizzo Fau (1686m), and Serra Pignataro (1661m).
The main characteristics of the Nebrodi park landscape are the asymmetric slopes, the smooth elevations, the rich variety of vegetation and the humid areas. Wide valleys cradle rivers flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea. In some cases the landscapes become rugged, like that of Mount San Fratello and Rocche Del Crasto (1315m). The park covers 23 municipalities: 18 in the province of Messina (Acquedolci, Alcara Li Fusi, Capizzi, Caronia, Cesarò, Floresta, Galati Mamertino, Longi, Militello Rosmarino, Mistretta, Sant'Agata di Militello, Santa Domenica Vittoria, San Fratello, San Marco d'Alunzio, Santo Stefano di Camastra, San Teodoro, Tortorici, Ucria), 3 in the province of Catania (Bronte, Maniace, Randazzo), and 2 in province of Enna (Cerami, Troina).
Etna Regional Park (Parco dell’ Etna)
Etna Park covers 59,000 hectares and was the first of its kind, established on the 17th of March 1987 around Etna, the tallest active volcano in europe. Not only does the park have an incredible variety of woods and unique landscapes, but also a lot of local produce and historical towns: these are the reasons why the park is visited all year round. Etna is at the centre of the park. The park includes 20 municipalities (Adrano, Belpasso, Biancavilla, Bronte, Castiglione di Sicilia, Giarre, Linguaglossa, Maletto, Mascali, Milo, Nicolosi, Pedara, Piedimonte Etneo, Ragalna, Randazzo, Santa Maria di Licodia, Sant’Alfio, Trecastagni, Viagrande, Zafferana Etnea). There is a train that runs around the base of the volcano. It is possible to access the Park from each municipality via paths and mule tracks. Paved access roads can be found from: Belpasso, Castiglione di Sicilia, Nicolosi (by the road that connects Catania to the Sapienza mountain refuge, owned by CAI) Linguaglossa, Milo and S.Alfio, Pedara, Trecastagni, Zafferana Etnea, Adrano and Biancavilla (by the road that crosses contrada Milia and goes up to the hotel Grande Albergo dell’Etna in Ragalna).
Alcantara River Park (Parco fluviale dell’ Alcantara)
Alcantara River park was established in 2001. It includes some municipalities of Messina and Catania provinces. The territory is crossed by the river Alcantara, which shaped and transformed the landscape creating striking, tall gorges, known as Gole dell’ Alcantara. The series of lakes and icy waterfalls on the lava columns is a spectacular sight.
The Sicani Mountains Park (Parco dei Monti Sicani)
The Sicani Mountains Park was established on the 25th of July 2012; it includes 12 municipalities of Agrigento and Palermo provinces and the Sicani mountain range in central-western Sicily. Inside the park there are four natural reserves: the Palazzo Adriano Mountains and Sosio Valley Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale orientata Monti di Palazzo Adriano e Valle del Sosio); the Carcaci Mountain Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale Monte Carcaci); the Mount Genuardo and Saint Mary of The Woods Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Genuardo e S.Maria del Bosco) and the Mount Cammarata Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale orientata Monte Cammarata).