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Monti Sibillini National Park
Sibilla was the mythical queen who was said to have reigned over a subterranean paradise that could only be reached through a cavern at the top of the mountain that bears her name. Visitors will find that the sheen of magic and legend still hangs in the park air today. Adding to the history of the area, it is also said that Pontius Pilate is buried in these mountains. Aside from the Apennine ridge and various mountains the park also features several rivers--like Nera, Aso and Ambro--as well as two man-made lakes (Fiastra and Pilato).
Flora and Fauna
There are about 1,800 species of flowers in the park that range from Apenninic edelweiss and moss campion to bearberrys and martagon lillies and orchids. There are also many types of trees like the velvety oak, manna ash, hornbeam, turkey oak, chestnut tree, beech, holm oak and sycamore maple.
In addition to the variety of vegetation you will also find over 50 species of mammals in this area. Don't be surprised if you spot a porcupine, wolf, wild cat, roe deer or snow vole. Many of these mammals were only reintroduced to this area.
You may also come across more than 150 types of birds like the golden eagle, the eagle owl, the peregrine, the goshawk, the rock partridge, the sparrow hawk, the chough and the snow finch. The park also boasts over 20 types of invertebrates and reptiles like the Cirocephalus Marchesonii and Orsini viper. In Lake of Pilato you can find crustaceans.
Tourist Points of Interest
The park is chalk full of historic monasteries, churches, abbeys, castles, towers, mills, fortresses and house towers. Monti Sibillini also offers an array of different natural elements to discover. Visit one--or all--of the four sections of the park to uncover these great offerings of man and nature:
1. Alto Nera Slope - Visit the city of Visso and the Guaite. This area is laden with towers and castles and holds the River Nera. Here you will also find Monte Bove, Castelsantangelo Sul N., Pievebovigliana, Monte Bove, Visso, Pieve, Ussita and Torina.
2. Flowering Slope - Discover the Forra in the Fiastrone Valley, the Grotta dei Frati hermitage (which dates back to 1,000 AD) and the Rangolo Meadows, which bloom beautifully in the spring. This area also holds the important Acquasanta Valley, framed by towering mountains and located near Lake Fiastra. Here there are beautiful waterfalls and the Grotta dell'Orso to explore as well as the towns of Acquacanina, Cessapalombo, Fiastra, Bolognola, Cessapalombo, Fiodimonte and San Ginesio.
3. The Magic Slope - The center of the mythical lands of Sibilla here you can discover Monte Vettore as well as the Gola dell'Internaccio, and the municipalities of Arquata del Tronto, Amandola, Montefortino, Montegallo and Montemonaco.
4. The Sacred Slope - At the center of this section you will find Norcia, which was the home of San Benedetto, the patron saint of Europe. You will not be disappointed by the charming historical center of this town and it is also an ideal starting place for various excursions. You can choose to visit the Abbey of St. Eutizio, the town of Preci or the marcite or water meadows in the Piani di Castelluccio.
The area also offers several specially mapped trails to aid in discovering these important sites either on foot or by bike. There are also the Red Deer Visitor and Wildlife Center and Casa del Parco Visitor Center in Ussita set up for tourists. Also, while in the area be sure to sample some of the local specialties including cacioni, piegoni or piegati. Made of pasta dough brushed with egg yolk these snacks will satisfy both your sweet tooth and a hankering for salt. Like a big fritter these creations can be filled with different things from cocoa and pecorino cheese to sugar and ricotta. Check out the Gian Fornaio bakery in Amandola or the Forno Silvi in Montefortino to get one of your own.