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The Stelvio National Park is one of the largest historical parks in Italy: found in the heart of the Central-Eastern Alps, with the massifs of the Ortles-Cevedale mountain range as a backdrop, the park is a treasure chest of natural riches that deserves to be explored.
Established in 1935, the Stelvio National Park measures 501 square miles/321,236 acres (130,000 hectares), making it not only one of the largest in Italy, but also in the whole length of the Alps, which arc from France in the southwest to Austria in the Northeast. The park spans three Italian regions (Lombardy, Trento, and Alto Adige) and four Italian provinces (Sondrio, Brescia, Bolzano, and Trento), and within it, you could get lost among the vast expanses of woods, meadows, mountains, glaciers, lakes, and streams and rivers—but there are also many cultivated areas and villages inhabited throughout the year.
On the trail of the stag and the bearded vulture
It is always an intense experience to observe animals up close, andin their natural environment, and while we always recommend not interfering, and giving these animals plenty of room, the Stelvio National Park does provide an excellent opportunity to watch the animals. Within the Park live many ungulates, among which the deer are noteable, as at the beginning of the autumn, during their mating season, it’s easy to hear their mighty roars echoing in the valleys.
In the woods, one is also likely to encounter squirrels, alpine hares, foxes, and ermine, while at higher altitudes it’s easy to observe marmots. And then there are the park’s birds, including the “stars” of the alpine skies, the eagle and the bearded vulture. In recent years, the bear has been spotted near the park, after having been locally extinct in northern Italy for almost 200 years.
The edelweiss and the rhododendron
The flora of the Stelvio National Park is extremely varied, as the elevations ranges between 3280 feet (1000 meters) at its lowest point, near Sondalo, and 12654 feet (3857 meters) at its highest point, at the peak of the Gran Zebru. This range of elevations, coupled with varying exposures, produces a wide variety of microclimates, which allow for a large number of plant species to find appropriate habitats. Two plant species stand out from the others are the edelweiss and the rhododendron, both of which are protected and cannot be collected.
With regard to the forests within the Stelvio National Park, the most common trees are conifers, with spruce, fir, pine, and larch in predominance. The forest undergrowth tends to be very rich, with wild strawberries, raspberries and blueberries quite common, plus there are many types of mushrooms, most importantly the prized porcino.