Sicily stores inside hidden nature gems. Its central position in the middle of the Mediterranean and its little distance from the African coast make Sicily a special place thanks to the flora and fauna living in this land.
Capo Rama Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Capo Rama) – Terrasini
The reserve of Capo Rama, protected since 1968, is considered to be a “priceless natural habitat”. It has many historical artefacts such as the watchtower from the 15th century, which has become the symbol of the reserve. It has very interesting fauna and geology thanks to the uneven erosion of the rocks which host some peculiar plants such as the Palmetto.
The Molara Caves Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Grotte Molara) – Palermo
The Molara Caves natural reserve extends over 4020 hectares and is made up of three caves of great scientific and archaeological value: Molara, Zubbio della Molara and Pitrazzi, also known as Coniglio Morto (the Dead Rabbit). There are many paleontological and ethnological finds and various peculiar examples of wildlife.
Saint Calogero's Mount Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte S. Calogero) - Termini Imerese
Saint Calogero's Mount Natural Reserve is a rocky mountain from the Mesozoic period, made up of siliceous layers and the so called numidian Flysch. The flora and fauna of the area which is typical for Mediterranean scrubland, includes birds of pray such as the peregrine falcon and the buzzard.
Pizzo Cane and Pizzo Trigna Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Pizzo Cane Pizzo Trigna) - Altavilla Milicia
The Pizzo Cane and Pizzo Trigna Natural Reserve including the Mazzamuto Cave (Grotta Mazzamuto), is a limestone mountain range from the Mesozoic period. The siliceous walls and volcanic rocks of Pizzo Cane are of great interest as are the caves of Brigli and Leone.
Serre della Pizzuta Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Serre della Pizzuta) – Piana degli Albanesi
Serre della Pizzuta is a system of mountains made from carbonate rock about 250 million years old. Walking through the reserve it is possible to see some amazing caves such as Zubbione cave and Garrone cave, surrounded by splendid ferns and populated by colonies of rare species of bats.
Mount Genuardo and Saint Mary of The Woods Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Genuardo e S.Maria del Bosco) - Sambuca di Sicilia
The reserve of Mount Genuardo and Saint Mary of the Woods, established in 1997, is a place rich in history and natural beauty. The ancient Phoenician colony and archaeological site of Adrenon is worth a visit, as is the stunning Abbey of Saint Mary of The Woods (Santa Maria del Bosco).
The Puntali Caves Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Integrale Grotta dei Puntali) - Villagrazia di Carini
The Grotta dei Puntali reserve has great scientific importance, thanks to the numerous fossils found within its caves and its exceptional natural beauty. The main cave is 110 metres wide, 15 metres high and it is a shelter for entire colonies of bats that are in danger of extinction.
The Favara Forest Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata Bosco di Favara) - Montemaggiore Belsito
The reserve of Favara and Granza is an immense green lung in the province of Palermo. It is characterised by some cork trees which were once numerous in the old forest. The undergrowth has flourishing vegetation that is typical of Sicilian woods and features specimens like hawthorn and wild apple.
The Ciminna Range Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale orientata Serre di Ciminna)
The Ciminna range is an elevation of gypsum stone from the Messinian age that reaches more than 800 metres high. The reserve has been the object of interest for geological studies thanks to the deep erosion of the stone and it is populated by many plants, rocks and species of animal, such as the porcupine which is the symbol of the reserve. www.agraria.org/parchi/sicilia/serrediciminna.htm
Oasis of Piana degli Albanesi – Lake of Piana degli Albanesi
The lake of Piana degli Albanesi is the oldest and biggest artificial basin in Sicily and is only a few kilometres from Palermo. Thanks to its many adjoining streams, the surroundings are full of poplar and willow trees as well as many fresh water ponds.
Palazzo Adriano Mountains Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale orientata Monti di Palazzo Adriano)
The Palazzo Adriano Mountains Natural Reserve and valley of Sosio have more than 40 trails, more than 60 species of birds and over 47 different botanical species. The reserve covers 5862 hectares and many fossils from the Palaeozoic age can be found in its layers of calcareous stone.
Ustica Island Natural Reserve
Ustica is an amazing island in front of the coast of Palermo with an incredible variety of plant and animal species. It has volcanic origins and has been inhabited for centuries. Thanks to its strategic position, more than 200 types of migratory birds stop here every year. In summer it is a tourist destination for thousands of visitors. www.parks.it/riserva.marina.isola.ustica/index.php
Carcaci Mountain Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale Monte Carcaci) - Prizzi
The natural reserve of Mount Carcaci was established in 1997 and has an extraordinary variety of plants typical of Mediterranean scrubland. The reserve is inhabited by large birds of prey and other various species of birds such as the great spotted woodpecker. Also typical of the area is a small mammal that lives underground. www.parks.it/riserva.monte.carcaci/par.php
Entella Caves Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale integrale Grotta di Entella) – Contessa Entellina
The impressive Caves of Entella were once filled with water and are now surrounded by rich vegetation and exceptional wildlife. Inside there are steep gradients, springs and rock formations such as stalagmites and cut gypsum which are of great value to the cave enthusiast. Since 1995 the reserve has been managed by CAI.
www.caisicilia.it/riserve/riserva-naturale- grotta-di- entella
Ficuzza Forest Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale orientata Bosco di Ficuzza) - Ficuzza
The Ficuzza Forest Natural Reserve was originally marked out as a hunting reserve for Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. It has a rich variety of plants and animals and is crossed by many fast running rivers which form in parts the typical small pools or eddies (gorghi), which are crucial for the balance of the ecosystem.
The Thermal Baths of Cefalà Diana Natural Reserve (Riserva naturale orientata Bagni di Cefalà Diana)
The Thermal Baths of Cefalà Diana and Chiarastella Natural reserve has quite a particular hydrological supply system. The mountain (670m) which was formed in the Mesozoic age is of carbonic and dolomitic limestone and is covered by typical Mediterranean scrubland vegetation and the spring appears inside a thermal spa of Arab origin. www.agraria.org/parchi/sicilia/bagnidicefala.htm
Carburangeli Cave Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Grotta di Carburangeli) – Carini
The Carburangeli Cave Natural reserve was established in 1996 and entrusted to the Legambiente environmental association. The cave has a striking collection of stalactites, stalagmites and columns shaped over millenniums. Located in the plains of Carini, about 22m above sea level, the cave is truly fascinating both for itself and for its fossils and biodiversity. www.legambienteriserve.it/grotta-di- carburangeli-2
Conza Cave Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Integrale Grotta Conza) – Tommaso Natale
The natural reserve of Conza Cave is composed of a tunnel formed by karst erosion 90m long and 30m wide, and an area in front of the grand entry to the cave, which is covered in vegetation typical to Mediterranean scrubland. A number of artefacts dating from the Palaeolithic age have been discovered here over the past century. www.provincia.palermo.it/turismo/tesori_d_arte/00011194_Gro tta_Conza.html
Cape Gallo Reserve (Riserva di Capo Gallo) – Palermo
The coastal natural reserve of Cape Gallo is composed of the mountain of the same name and by the headland dividing the two gulfs of Mondello and Sferracavallo. It is characterised by its uncontaminated coastline and its numerous caves such as the Grotta dell olio which is comparable in importance to the Grotta azzurra of Capri or the Grotta della Regina. Many of these caves still preserve important archaeological finds and pre-historical wall art. www.parks.it/riserva.capo.gallo/index.php
Madonie National Park – Madonie Mountains
The Madonie national park covers 39,941 hectares and contains fifteen towns of Palermo province. Madonie park is characterized by its mountains which reach up to 2000m and are crossed by rivers and streams; it is divided into four main areas with different protection status. Since 2003 Madonie Park has become part of the European Geopark network. www.europeangeoparks.org
Zingaro Natural Reserve (Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro
One needs at least 1 hour and a half drive to reach it, but it is worth it. It is one of the few uncontaminated Sicilian coastlines. Small fern, cyclamen, bushes of butcherbroom and, to the western boundary of the reserve, also fragments of cork-oak plantations, almost disappeared in the rest of the Western Sicily now. The presence of birds of prey is very strong, such as very rare eagles.