Il Parco Nazionale Del Gran Paradiso:
Italy's oldest national park was originally the hunting grounds of the ruling House of Savoy, who donated the first 5000 acres to the people in 1919. Today the park covers 173,000 acres of perennially snow-capped mountain peaks, tiny glacial lakes, wooded slopes and vast flowering meadows. The lord of this heavenly manor is lo stambecco (the ibex), a chunky white mountain goat with massive horns that is probably as mythical to Italians as the bald eagle is to most Americans. There are also large populations of chamois and marmots, smaller numbers of fox and golden eagles, and clouds of colorful butterflies.
Families and casual visitors will probably enjoy the northern part of the park better, because the mountains are higher, the views are more spectacular, and there are plenty of hotels and picnic areas. Serious hikers and lovers of solitude should head for the southern valleys, which are quieter and wilder.
Because this was once a royal hunting reserve, there are about 450 miles of marked trails and mule-tracks, which makes it a paradise for advanced and inexperienced hikers alike.
Maneger Ente Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso
Address: Via della Rocca, 47 - 10123 Torino
Touristic secretariat: via Umberto I n. 1, 10080 Noasca tel. e fax 0124/901070,
Tourism-environmrntal education service: email@example.com
Surface: 70.000 ha circa
Provinces: Torino, Aosta (Piemonte, Valle d'Aosta)
The events of the park are indissolubly linked to the protection of the steinbock . Already in 1856, King Vittorio Emanuele II declared the Hunting Royal Reserve a part of the recent territory of the Park, saving in this way the steinbock whose number had alarming decreased. The King formed a specialized guard force and built paths and mule tracks that still today constitute the best street framework for the protection of fauna by the parkguard, but also for the excursions. In 1920 King Vittorio Emanuele III donated to the Italian government 2,100 hectares of hunting reserve in order to create a national park. Two years later, on Dec. 3 The Gran Paradiso National Park was established, the first Italian national park. The protected area was managed until 1934 by a committee endowed of administrative autonomy. After the Second World War the direction passed to the Agriculture and forrest ministry (during the war, the park was seriously damaged), and from 1947 the park is ruled by an autonomous association. In 1991 a law system on the parks was promulgated, to rule the establishment and the administration of the protected areas in Italy, including the Park of Gran Paradiso.
The territory of the park, between Piemonte and Valle d'Aosta, extends in about 70,000 hectares mostly in a typical alpine environment. The mountains of the Gran Paradiso group have been in the past incised and shaped by great glacials and by the torrents until creating the recent valleys. In the valley bottom's woods the most frequent trees are: the larches, mixed red firs,cembran pines and rare white firs. Going up on the slopes the trees are replaced by wide alpine pastures, rich of flowers in the late spring. The tops (the highest ones arrives to 4000 metres) are characterized by rocks and glacials.
The Gran Paradiso group is made up of rocks of various ages and sources. In particularly one can find a complex stratified gneiss (metamorphic rocks derived by granites or by diorites still preserved here and there). In some cases the gneiss have a thick covering of calcareous schists variously metamorphosated, derivated from marine sediments of the Mesozoic Era. One can note the presence of rich veins of iron minerals in the Val di Cogne that have greatly influenced the life of the population of the valley.