The first and perhaps most important national park in Italy - Gran Paradiso - really rise to the height of his name. It is a piece of original paradise of the Alps.
Visiting this almost untouched piece of nature is an enlightening experience, which blends harmoniously with civilized tourism effectively protect the surrounding environment. The park received its name from the Gran Paradiso massif, located within the boundaries of this reserve unique in Western Europe.
Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, as you find the local guides calling it, is located in the heart of the Alps Graiani, specifically between the famous Vale d'Aosta and Piemonte region. It includes over 70,000 hectares, covering a major alpine habitat.
All the mountains that were unmatched sand reserves for millennia by glaciers and streams of tumultuous geological ages of the past. At the foot of valleys, forests are composed of mixtures of larch and spruce. The altitude of the Park does not fall below 800 meters in its lowest point, to culminate with the 4061 meter peak measured as Gran Paradiso. Amounts average altitude of 2,000 meters around.
History of the reserves is closely related to protecting ibex goat, the animal symbol of the park.
During the nineteenth century, the intensification of hunting this majestic animal led to the disappearance of almost all in the Italian mountains, a single core of about 60 copies barely managed to survive only in the region of Gran Paradiso.
Ibex goats were hunted extensively not only because of their meat which is highly valued by gourmet, but for certain parts of their bodies and magical practices used in traditional medicine in Piedmont Alps. Popular customs dictate that from the cross-shaped cross-sections of ibex horns to carve amulets with a protective role against sudden and violent deaths.
Chance of saving species by Prince Victor Emmanuel came, (later King of Italy) which, in 1856, decided to set up a Royal Hunting Reserve of Gran Paradiso, establishing armed guard to protect the animals. In 1920, the grandson of King Victor Emmanuel, donated the park, to the Italian government with the express desire that there be established an exemplary reserve the only law to be full protection of animals and plants and habitats included. Protection of goats ibex but not saved, the excesses, of the Second World War If, before the Great War, there lived some 4,000 copies in May 1945 only 419 survived. Fortunately, protective measures have been established then as now, ibex goat herd again to reach the optimal figure of 4,000 copies.
Mountain and its treasures
Gran Paradiso Mountains are composed of rocks of different ages and origins, mostly gneiss stratified (e.g. metamorphic rocks derived from granite and diorite). In some cases, gneiss covered by metamorphic limestone rocks, marine sediments derived from the remainder of the Mesozoic. Cogne Valley is rich in iron ore, which has influenced the lives of local ancient times.
Symbol of the park, ibex goat is an animal accustomed to tourists and whose trust in people has increased considerably in the past decades because it has not been shot and hunted anymore. Today is quite close to the tourists, are easy to photograph. It meets on all alpine meadows reserve. Goats, characterized by huge and curved horns, live in groups, separated from females, who live only in the company of fawns. Groups interact only autumn, when is the mating season.
Marmots are always present, except during late autumn and winter, they hibernate. Bearded Vulture disappeared in 1921 and was recently reintroduced in the Alps with a welcome international project. Eagle Mountain, a natural predator for chamois and ibex kids, also hunts marmots and grouse. It`s silhouette often streaking through the heavens sky of Gran Paradiso.
Beautiful corner flower, symbol of the international mountain peaks is found between 1500 and 3200 meter rates. Among the rare species of plants are noted, Potentilla Astragallus Pennsylvania and Alopecurus, which grow only in the Valley d'Aosta. Liliastrum Paradise is a magnificent wild lily white forming dazzling white meadows.
Tourism and gastronomy in Paradise
Villages and alpine meadows are an obvious testimony of sheep grazing, practiced here from ancient times. Mountain slopes from Piedmont, traditional houses are built entirely of stone, while the Valley d'Aosta region and wooden houses are raised.
Among the most important and interesting places, stands out the following:
Vale di Campiglia: Every year on August 10, residents of the valleys Soane and Cogne, meet at this point for the celebration of pre-Christian traditions.
Piano di Gran Noasca: this area is the least known and frequented by tourists from the entire park. It is an ideal place to observe the ibex goats, chamois and thousands of marmots.
Orvieille - Lago Djouan: an old forest road is opened by King Victor Emmanuel. Starts from the limit of spruce forests and continues to the hunting lodge from Oreville. Near Lake Djouan, you can admire the whole panorama of glaciers and peaks from Gran Paradiso.
Vittorio Sella mountain refuge and village Herbetet: route from Valnontey, Vittorio Sella refuge to, is the most famous of the park (except that there are many pieces of cable and chains that require attention and a very good physical condition).
Treasures from Gran Paradiso, is not only perfect natural scenery. Not at all! In fact, we could not enjoy them with empty stomach. For this reason, it requires a getaway in the Italian Alpine cuisine.
Piedmont cheeses are great. Try, for starters, cow's milk cheese called toma.
But the taste from salami and potatoes is a specialty unparalleled anywhere.
Mocetta is pastrami that can be made of different meats and boudin is a dry sausage of pork, plus sometimes unexpected ingredients like red beets. But it is absolutely delicious.
Desserts include mecoulin - a sponge cake with raisins and berries - and torcetti, a sort of butter cookies. Also a specialist is recommended for all tourists Nivolet cake.
After all, you must convince yourself by the taste of paradise, right?