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Wildlife Reserves in The Marche - Italy

The best places to get close to Nature in Italy, apart from by the pool of your self catering accomodation of course, is in the large natural parks. The biggest is the Parco Naturale dei Monti Sibillini. It lies in the south-west corner of the Marche and spreads over 40 km of mountain peaks, including Monte Vettore, westwards into neighbouring Umbria. The area is a botanist's paradise as well as being rich in exotic birdlife.

The prettiest is perhaps Monte Conero, just south of Ancona. The lone limestone mountain provides the only really rugged coastline in the Marche, rising spectacularly out of the sea to a height of just over 500 metres. The park boasts over a thousand species of wild plants, as well as fascinating bird life. And if that's not enough, the views out over the sea are stunning.

Other parks include

The WWF's small Torricchio Riserva Naturale, just north of the Monte Sibillini park and covering around 800 acres. Great flora and a flutter of butterflies.

The nature reserve near the Cistercian abbey of Fiastra. Here the wildlife includes deer, beech-marten, sparrow-hawk, tawny owl, hoopoe and green woodpeckers.

The Gola della Rossa & Frasassi regional park, in the area of Genga with a series of towering limestone gorges and several pairs of golden eagles. The Frassasi Caves in the heart of the area are among the most spectacular caverns in Italy.

Below the high peaks of Monte Catria and Nerone, the Bosco di Tecchie woodland park near Cantiano is home to many species of mountain wildlife, including deer, wild boar, porcupine, and wolf. But don't let that put you off a walk in this enchanted forest.

Dramatic limestone crags, ancient Roman remains and golden eagles await you at the Furlo Gorge to the east.

In the northern Marche, the beach woods in the Sasso Simone and Simoncello Regional Park, protect numerous species of wildlife including deer, fox, badger, beech-marten, heron and the rare Montagu's harrier. Fine mountain scenery is an added bonus.

The small Colle San Bartolo Regional Park, near Gabicce on the Northern Marche coast, offers guided tours of marshland, the winter habitat of rare seabirds.

Reproduced with the kind permission of Marche Voyager www.le-marche.com

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