Italy is a beautiful country known around the world for its history, culture, and Arts. However, the natural beauty of the landscape is often forgotten. Luckily for us, certain areas of land are protected and have been declared a national park. In total, there are 25 national parks in Italy. Check out this list of the 10 most breath-taking parks in the beautiful country of Italia.
1. Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso
Located on the border of the regions of Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont, Gran Paradiso National Park is the oldest park in all of Italy. It was established in 1922. Gran Paradiso National Park takes its name from the tallest peak in the park. Even more impressive however, is that from inside the park you can view the famous mountain, the Matterhorn. Gran Paradiso National Park is a favorite destination for expert hikers during the summers, and skiers during the winter. No matter the time of year, this park is also a great destination if you want to see animals, especially the ibex.
2. Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio, e Molise
Close to the capital city of Rome, in the regions of Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise, lies the -aptly named Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise National Park. This long-named park is more commonly known by its former name: Abruzzo National Park. It was established in 1923. While it is not the oldest park in Italy, it is the oldest park in the Apennine mountain range. Abruzzo National Park is beloved for its focus on wildlife conservation – specifically, for the protection of Italian wolves, Abruzzo chamois, and Marsican brown bears. The park is also beloved for its forests and mountains. This is the perfect destination for all of your favorite outdoor activities, from horseback riding and canoeing in the warm months, to skiing in the colder months.
3. Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio
Established in 1935, Stelvio National Park is a favorite destination in the regions of Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige, and Sudtirol. If you have a desire to see the Alps from the Italian point of view, this national park is the park for you! Being the largest national park in Italy, this area is abundant in hiking trails. There are exciting trails for expert hikers, as well as enjoyable hikes for beginners. The park’s greatest attraction is Stelvio Pass, from which it takes its name.
4. Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi
The Dolomites are both a European treasure, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are also, in part, a favorite feature of the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. Located in northern Veneto since 1988, this national park is a favorite for hikers and rock climbers. The park is also well known for its efforts to preserve the natural flora and fauna found in the region.
5. Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano
One year later, in 1989, Tuscan Archipelago National Park was opened. “Archipelago” is a scientific term for “chain of islands”. This archipelago is located on the western coast of Tuscany. The national park features seven main islands: Elba, Isola del Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri, and Gorgona. The park as a whole covers both land and sea, including the beautiful blue waters surrounding the dotted islands off the coast of Tuscany.
6. Parco Nazionale del Gargano
Gargano National Park is not only a national park, but also a UNESCO site. It was first established in 1991 in Apulia. This beautiful area has mountains and coastlines all in one park, making it a marvelous destination for nature-lovers. The park is known for its push to extend environmental awareness. The biggest attraction in Gargano National Park is the San Felice Arch: a large, uniquely arch-shaped rock formation that extends over the water.
7. Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga
One of the largest protected lands in all of Europe is the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. It is located in the regions of Marche and Lazio, but it mostly falls inside Abruzzo. This park, established in 1991, contains mountainous ranges and glorious Alpine plains. It even features a glacier. During the summer, this park is popular for horseback riding and birdwatching. It is also a great skiing destination when it snows. The biggest attraction is the tallest peak of the Apennine Mountains: the Gran Sasso, meaning “Great Rock” in English.
8. Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio
The infamous volcano of Vesuvius is located in Campania. Vesuvius National Park was established in 1991. A visit to this volcano is called for after a trip to the ancient archeological ruins of Pompeii. This is, in fact, the very volcano that erupted and covered Pompeii in ash all those years ago. Today, you can hike right up to the summit – and it’s not even that hard of a climb! Even beginner hikers can complete the whole trail in just over an hour.
9. Parco Nazionale dell’Arcipelago di La Maddelena
For beach-lovers, Archipelago di la Maddelena National Park is a must-see. This park, located in Sardinia since 1994, is known for its stunning beaches. You can take a boat trip to see the sights from the water or take a walk around Caprera Island.
10. Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre
Last on this list is possibly one of the most well-known tourist destinations that many people don’t even know is a national park! Cinque Terre National Park is located in Liguria and was established as a national park in 1999. It is also a UNESCO World Heritages Site. Cinque Terre (“five lands” in English) is a small park but densely inhabited in its five little villages. These five cliff-side villages are the headquarters to the main attraction. People love hiking along the cliff sides and enjoying the unique view of the land suddenly plunging in to the sea below. The national park aims to help find a healthy balance in sustainable tourism that won’t destroy the natural beauty of the Cinque Terre.