National Parks of Italy


Roughly the size of California, Italy offers some of the most varied and scenic landscapes in Europe, from towering Alpine ranges to deep forests, from coral beaches to patches of desert. Preserving many of those landscapes is a chain of national parks—some postage-stampsized, some large by European standards—that, in many instances, are little visited and little known even to Italians, so that they offer fine havens from the crowds in a country overrun by visitors from around the world.

Amenities and services vary from park to park—campsites, for example, are often few and usually difficult to book in advance—but all of those parks also offer noteworthy attractions, and good restaurants and pleasing and affordable lodgings lie close by. As with all travel in Italy, you can't really go wrong just by going, asking around, and playing it by ear; whatever your destination, you're sure to find the experience rewarding.

Based in Tucson, Arizona, writer Gregory McNamee travels frequently to Italy's backcountry. His favorite national parks are the wildest, those of Basilicata and Calabria.


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