During my travels through Italy, I came across a place in the heart of Calabria, deeply hidden within the province of Cosenza: Sila. This is not just a spot on the map; it's a deep dive into authentic Italy, but with tourist centers that are unexpectedly modern, with interesting museums and a well-organized visitor center, especially in the National Park.
I felt the passion of dense pine forests, trees that can rival the Sequoias of America in size. This is not just a haven for nature lovers; it also has much to offer for wine enthusiasts, with vineyards where they cultivate grapes from ancient Greece, long before the Romans made wine.
The Sila National Park
If you ever find yourself lost in the middle of the Mediterranean and think, "Where on earth am I?", you might just be in Sila! This piece of Calabria sits on a gigantic plateau - the largest in Europe. It is divided into Sila Grande, Sila Greca, and Sila Piccola, spread across 19 municipalities and nearly 74,000 hectares. Since the time of Magna Graecia, Sila's wood has been used for building ships, houses, and churches. After World War II, much of this wood disappeared to the United States under the guise of repaying war debts. A dark history that went unnoticed at the time.
Walking through the forests of Sila, I felt the magic around me. These are not just any trees and bushes. I met the Sciurus Meridionalis, a charming little squirrel, and sensed the presence of lurking wolves. And who ensures the preservation of this nature? The heroes of the Carabinieri Forestale. To me, they seemed like the guardians of these Italian forests. The park is rich in water, with three large artificial lakes and numerous trails that make the area accessible to hikers, cyclists, and riders. By the way, you can rent electric bikes here from the organization Tiquets.
The forests of the park are so extensive that they are called "Gran Bosco d'Italia." Trees you won't find anywhere else, like the Calabrian black pine. And if you're lucky, you might spot a deer or a wild boar, not to mention the birds. And if you're looking for water after all that adventure, there are plenty of lakes. From skiing to trekking, Sila has it all. And in between activities? Immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the area. In short, Sila is not just a place; it's an experience!
The park is open year-round, as is the visitor center and the Museum of Biodiversity of the park.
National Park of Sila - 87066 Longobucco, Province of Cosenza Tel. 0984.53.71.09 Email:
The Giants of Sila (I Giganti della Sila)
- Entrance fees: FAI members: €5 - Adults: €10 Children (6-18 years): €6 Students 25 years or younger: €6 - Members of INTO - The International National Trusts Organization (for more information, visit www.into.org/places/), Soci Mécènes e Soci Bienfaiteurs Amis du Louvre, ICOM, persons with disabilities + 1 companion: €5 Family (2 adults + 2 or more children 6-18 years): €26
- How to get here? For those coming from the A3 highway or from the Tyrrhenian side: The Park is accessible from the A3 highway by taking the Cosenza ("Sud" or "Nord") exit, then follow the signs to Camigliatello Silano on the SS 107 (Silana-Crotonese). Take the exit to Croce di Magara. Follow the signs until you reach the reserve, which is about 3 km from this exit. For those coming from the Ionian side: From the SS 106 highway, near Crotone, take the SS 107 highway until you reach the Croce di Magara exit, follow the signs, and after 3 km, you will arrive at the Park.
Every breath in Sila feels like a rejuvenation. With the purest air in Europe, surrounded by trees and nature, I felt the hustle and bustle of daily life slipping away. It's the perfect place for slow tourism, where you can truly slow down and enjoy. From majestic trees to the tiniest insects, in Sila, you can feel Mother Nature's heartbeat. Every path, every corner tells a story, and I was there to listen. The park offers numerous activities, from skiing to trekking and rowing. Visitors can also enjoy the rich history and culture of the surrounding villages, craft shops, and historical sites.
Museo della Nave della Sila
During my stay, the museum was unfortunately closed, but it is definitely worth a visit for those interested in the waves of emigration from Italy. The Museo Narrante dell’Emigrazione (Museum of the Ship of Sila) is located in the heart of the Sila area, just steps from the visitor center of the National Park, and was opened in 2005. It is housed in beautifully restored old stables. The museum not only serves as a reminder of the past but also projects into the present and future. It tells the story of the massive Italian emigration, a historical phenomenon of exodus, especially from the small villages and poor regions, which has now been replaced by the mass immigration to Italy. The museum tells stories of fear, hope, incurable homesickness, and the public and private dramas of millions of people forced to migrate. But at the same time, it also tells of the start of new, extraordinary adventures of people who have represented the Italian entrepreneurial spirit worldwide. The museum has a large number of images, mostly unknown photos.La Nave della Sila - Via Camigliati, 87052 Camigliatello Silano (CS) Tel. +39 0984 578200 Email:
Skiing in Calabria
The ski areas of Sila are not very large with a handful of slopes, but you can expect a modern cable car. It is a very cozy area where you can enjoy the most beautiful views, a low tree line, and dry powder snow. Covered in snow, La Sila becomes an exceptional attraction for skiing enthusiasts, cross-country skiing, and for those who want to explore nature and the silence of these beautiful forests on foot or with snowshoes. The slopes are usually open from December to February, and your ski pass costs only 12 euros per day!
Horseback Riding in the Sila Mountains
The forest trails of Sila invite you to horseback riding, allowing you to explore the beauty of the region in a peaceful way. The experience of a horseback ride in the fantastic atmosphere of the Sila forests makes it even more special, and you quickly forget the stress of daily life.
You can usually book horseback riding tours in Sila through your hotel, for example, at:Arvo Residence: Via Nazionale, C.da Lorichella Lorica (CS), 87059 - Email:
For excursions organized from Tropea, contact:CST TRAVEL Tourism Services - Largo San Michele 8-9, 89861 Tropea - Italy - Excursions from 10:00 to 11:00; from 11:30 to 12:30; from 15:00 to 16:00; from 16:30 to 17:30 - Call them at +39 0963 61178 / WhatsApp +39 3387915577
Historical Train through Sila
The 'old lady,' a restored locomotive from the early 1900s, travels on the highest narrow-gauge railway in Europe to the Silvana Mansio station, 1,405 meters above sea level. The engineers and firemen of Ferrovie della Calabria have revived the locomotive and know the secrets of this ancient art. Thanks to them, the 'old lady' continues to be fueled with burning coal and achieves a power of 650 degrees to propel the historic wagons full of curious travelers. A festive atmosphere reigns on board the old train, and adults and children are enchanted by the view of a valley full of trees and firs in the Sila Park. Eventually, the 'old lady' is placed on two long boards on the platform to rest and wait for her next festive journey.Il Treno della Silla - Stazione Ferroviaria, Camigliatello Silano - Website: https://www.trenodellasila.it
Slow Food Dining in the Mountains
The slow food experience in Calabria is one of a kind. From La Tavernetta to La Pignanella, every meal is a love letter to the region. And the highlight? The signature Amaro of the region. Below, I provide some recommendations that I can genuinely endorse.
A small restaurant affiliated with a B&B where dogs stand guard, just a few kilometers from the Sila visitor center. Here, you can enjoy classic regional dishes with a modern twist. Children can play in the garden, and there's ample parking available. It's a charming spot with friendly young people who genuinely strive to give you a taste of the richness of this area. Of course, this favorite is also 0km, so expect Slow Food at fair prices.La Pignanella - Contrada Molarotta, 87052 Camigliatello Silano CS - Tel. 0984 578443 - Website: https://www.lapignanella.it/
Camigliatello - La Tavernetta
La Tavernetta is a restaurant located in Camigliatello Silano, Calabria. It offers a variety of Italian and Mediterranean dishes.La Tavernetta - Campo San Lorenzo 14, Camigliatello Silano, 87058 - Phone: 379 251 4977 - Website: La Tavernetta
Agriturismo Il Villaggetto
Agriturismo Il Villaggetto is a rural accommodation located in Camigliatello Silano. It offers typical Calabrese dishes and is nestled amidst the forests.Il Villaggetto - Ctr. Colle Lungo - Spezzano Della Sila, Camigliatello Silano, 87052 - Website: Il Villaggetto
BioSila is a farm stay located in Acri. It offers accommodation, a restaurant, a bar, and barbecue facilities.BioSila - Contrada Filiciuzzi snc, Acri, 87041 - Website: BioSila
Hotel Fattoria is an alpine-style hotel located in Camigliatello Silano. It offers various services with ample comfort for a pleasant stay.Website: Hotel Fattoria
Da Zio Silvio
Da Zio Silvio, also known as Uncle Silvio's Steakhouse, is a steakhouse located in Camigliatello Silano. In addition to steaks, it offers a variety of Italian dishes.Da Zio Silvio - Via Roma 160, 87052 Camigliatello Silano - Phone: +39 392 800 4193
Magna Grecia Wine Tasting
Magna Grecia is a winery located in Spezzano Della Sila. It's a great opportunity to get to know the wines of the region, with wine tastings and tours available.Magna Grecia - CORSO EUROPA 169, 87058 - Spezzano Della Sila - Phone: 0984 434446 - Website: Magna Grecia