The Stelvio National Park is one of the largest and oldest parks in the Italian territory. Inside, a great variety of flora and fauna is preserved and protected, very important for Italian biodiversity. The very high peaks that dominate the landscape, the perennial snow that covers the rocks and the thick woods create a magical atmosphere that is difficult to forget.
The park was founded in 1935 and covers an area of more than 130 thousand hectares between Lombardy and Trentino–Alto Adige. The management of the park is divided between the Lombardy region and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano. The Stelvio National Park develops at high altitude: the lowest point is 700 meters above sea level, while the highest point is the Ortles peak, with its mammoth 3904 meters high.
Here is a small guide for lovers of unspoiled nature who want to explore the Stelvio National Park.
The mountains of the National Park
The heart of the park is made up of the Ortles-Cevedale group, one of the largest mountain complexes in the Alps. These rock giants are covered by numerous perennial glaciers and are characterized by the alpine climate. The most famous one, a popular destination for climbers, is Forni Glacier. It is currently divided into two distinct systems due to the melting of 36% of the ice.
The melting of glaciers is one of the effects of global warming, acting consciously and travelling green allows us to help preserve these natural beauties that otherwise would be lost forever.
To discover the wonders enclosed in these mountains we advise you to choose from the many paths that run through the park. There is over 250 km of marked routes suitable for all types of hikers.
Fauna of the Stelvio National Park
Walking inside the Stelvio park you can meet a great variety of ecosystems characterized by the alpine climate.
Deer, roe deer and chamois populate the magical forests of larches, Swiss stone pines and firs and they drink in the lakes and rivers that bathe this area.
Adapted to life in the less luxuriant areas, the ibex lives undisturbed among the peaks of the park. Its legs are suitable for climbing on rocks thanks to its soft hooves and powerful muscles. The chamois, also present in the park, thanks to its structure is more suitable for running in the snow and walking on ice.
The small mammals of the Stelvio National Park
The ermine is one of the most invasive animals in the world, but which finds its range in Italy only in the Alps. With a bit of luck, it will be possible to see this small curious predator jumping on trees or running in the undergrowth.
The marmot is another cute animal that lives in the park. It is a diurnal animal, you will easily meet it while cleaning its fur or resting in the sun.
The marmot digs its burrows in the ground and takes refuge there at night and in the hottest hours. They are social animals, they live grouped in families and they form strong bonds. During the winter it hibernates and families gather in the galleries of the den to disperse less heat.
The marmot is a very important animal for the survival of a mountain habitat raptor: the majestic golden eagle. The whistle emitted by the groundhog is the signal that this rodent uses to draw attention to the imminent threat.
Avifauna in the Stelvio National Park
The golden eagle is the symbol of the Stelvio National Park. This bird of prey is the largest in Europe and lives in temperate high mountain areas. In the spring it is possible to admire the beautiful wedding flight that the eagle couples perform before mating. This bird of prey nests in the territory of the National Park. Another bird of prey present in the park is the bearded vulture, recently reintroduced successfully in the park.
Flora of the Stelvio National Park
The Stelvio National Park shows great biodiversity. The alpine climate has allowed the development and conservation of unique and beautiful species.
Coniferous forests dominate the flora of these beautiful mountains. Spruce stands out above all at an altitude of between 800 and 1400 meters. Subsequently, the Swiss stone pine and larch conquered higher altitudes. They are trees that grow very slowly but incessantly. These trees can even live a thousand years. In Santa Gertrude, in the Val d’Ultimo, there are 3 millennial specimens and considered “natural monuments“. In the 1930s, a fourth larch had fallen due to a storm. This allowed the age of larches to be estimated: they have around 2000 rings!
Flowers of Stelvio National Park
The flowers that you can admire walking through the paths of the Stelvio National Park are specimens of great beauty. Typical of the alpine climate, they are plants suitable for the harsh and snowy climates of the Alpine winter. The glacier buttercup is the first to bloom as soon as the snow begins to melt. Immediately afterwards the alpine bellflower blooms.
The bird’s eye primrose with its bright colours and the beautiful alpine camedrio with its deep roots are added to the floral species of the National Park. In addition to these, you can admire the edelweiss, arnica and gentian.
Gastronomy in the Stelvio National Park
The typical cuisine of the Stelvio National Park area embraces the traditions of Valtellina, South Tyrol and Trentino. You will discover the strong flavours of mountain traditions, the combination of popular products, masterfully fused and known all over the world.
In Alta Valtellina, the most popular products are pizzoccheri, bresaola, polenta taragna and manfrigoli. Buckwheat flour is widely used, as are cabbage, mushrooms and local cheeses such as Casera.
Canederli is the best-known dish of Trentino-Alto Adige. They are large gnocchi mixed with stale bread and seasoned with speck or typical cheeses. Spätzle are also well known: small irregularly shaped dumplings. The meat is generally served by cooking delicious stews, in South Tyrol beef goulash is often cooked.
Cured meats and cheeses never fail on the tables of the territory of the national park. They are used to flavour many traditional first courses or served as appetizers.
Landscapes to see absolutely and the itineraries
The suspension bridge in Val di Rabbi
For lovers of strong emotions, the suspension bridge is a must if you are near the Stelvio National Park. The Tibetan bridge is located in the Val di Rabbi. It is suspended in the space at 1366 meters, just above the Rio Ragaiolo waterfalls. The bridge is 100 meters long and suspended 60 meters above the ground. It offers a different view of the valley and river and combines charm and adrenaline with your adventure. This experience is suitable for all ages. Children will not run any risk because the protections on the sides of the bridge are very high. Attention to those who suffer from vertigo, we strongly advise against this experience!
6 itineraries on the traces of the White War
During the First World War, the Ortles-Cevedale mountain group was the scene of dramatic high altitude battles. The opposing armies were those of the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Ortles-Cevedale operating sector was the one that had the most extreme conditions. A real high altitude war made even harder by the cold temperatures and the steep terrain. It is called the White War because the soldiers fought in the snow.
Lombardy, in collaboration with the White War Museum, wanted to enhance these places so that they would not be forgotten. The project includes 6 hiking itineraries on the places of the First World War. The routes are suitable only for expert hikers. A smartphone application has been developed that provides the cultural content to listen to on the way.
The Saènt waterfalls are located in Val di Rabbi, in the heart of the forests of imposing larches. You can reach the falls through a path suitable for all types of hikers who will take you to admire an impressive sight. In the ring route, you can find picnic equipment and convenient parking. On the way you will meet grazing animals: be careful not to disturb the animals!
Where to sleep green near the park
Maso Coler is a splendid farmhouse in a wood and stone farm. It was once a stable for cows and was renovated in 2012, maintaining its genuine identity. Surrounded by mountains, you have the opportunity to recharge your energy in the premises designed to be green.
From here it is possible to leave for numerous excursions. For example, you can see the Saènt waterfalls or go and admire the millennial larches of Santa Gertrude. The hut is in Val di Rabbi and is easily accessible by train. It is also very close to ski resorts.
Domina Parco dello Stelvio
In Cogolo di Pejo there is an absolutely eco-friendly hotel. Domina Parco dello Stelvio offers the opportunity to relax in nature without sacrificing the comforts of a 4-star hotel. The indoor swimming pool, bicycles for guests and an excellent restaurant serving traditional cuisine complete the offer.
The Domina Parco dello Stelvio hotel is easily accessible by train. The charming electric railway line connects Trento to Malè. Then continue with the buses that will take you directly to the heart of the Val di Peio.
Curiosity and green tips
In Val Venosta, in Prato dello Stelvio, you can find Lorenz Kuntner‘s Parc Art. This man decided to leave his job to follow his true passion and stay in touch with nature. Lorenz Kuntner creates truly unique works and exhibits them in his open-air museum. If you are curious to admire the works of this man, do not hesitate to stop!
Cover image: Author: Marco Carboni; Source: Wikimedia