Wild Italy Travel
La Bella Italia. One of Europe’s cultural heavyweights for millennia. Of course we all know a little (or a lot) about Italy – and yet despite being the third-most visited country on the continent, there remain sides to Italy’s polygon that may surprise even regular visitors. For beyond the hustle and romance of Venice, or the cultural delights of Florence and Rome, a little-known spine of wilderness runs through this effervescent, epicurean nation. These wild spaces, and the efforts to preserve them, offer a thrilling opportunity to travel beyond the domes and canvasses we so often associate with this country. Italy’s wild side is just waiting to be explored.
What to see and do in Wild Italy
Dive in to Italy’s justly-famed food and wine culture. Go with a local to the morning market, selecting the best available produce to spend a dreamy day learning how to prepare some of those signature dishes you love. Why not add a little Keith Floyd to your culinary experience by tasting some of the legendary dark wines of the Abruzzo region.
Wake to the sound of a wolf howling while you stretch your legs in that oh-so-comfortable bed and await the decisions that only a delicious breakfast can bring. We want to help you to get close to nature on your own terms.
Pack the picnic of your dreams and cool-off with a dip in the gorgeous ultramarine of Lago di San Domenico. This is a somewhat mystical place and a delightful spot for a picnic after a swim right up to the church and see if you can find the hidden sanctuary of San Domenico therein.
Wildlife in Italy
Marsican Brown Bears are a subspecies of bear that only live in the Central Apennines. There are only around fifty or so left, so conservation efforts to support them are vital. Cohabiting these peaks with them are populations of lynx and wildcat.
The Apennine Wolf is sub species of European Grey Wolf that inhabits the central mountain ranges of Italy. Numbers are stable and the population is spreading toward the alps. These hills are also home to chamois and boar.
Golden Eagles are one of many avian predators in the Abruzzo region. They share the skies with buzzards, vultures, nightingales, woodpeckers and falcons.
Rewilding and Conservation in Italy
Italy is of course justly famed for its food, and for many years the wildlife in the mountains was hunted for the table, with apex predators being feared either through folklore of justifiably after the loss of livestock. But recently a wave of change has begun to grow around the recognition and protection of these keystone species.
National Parks and protected areas are legion across Italy, but the links between protected zones are now the focus of intensive efforts to encourage the stabilising of wild animal populations. The Apennine Wolf has been a success story after a population of just 100 or so individuals in 1979 has now grown to more than 2000 animals. This gives hope to the critically endangered Marsican Brown Bear; hopefully the establishment of wild corridors to link its habitat and thus provide a chance for population growth will pay dividends.
The growth of wildlife tourism is enabling organisations such as Salviamo l’Orso (Save the Bear) to carefully allow tourists to enter bear habitat, creating natural capital and increase the perceived value of these wonderful animals. Together with compensation payments when livestock has been taken, and simple efforts to prevent bear damage to crops or encroachment onto roads, there is hope. And where there is hope for bears there is hope for all the other species they live alongside.
Travelling to Italy
Italy is fantastically simple to get to by train from London. There are as usual, plenty of routes to choose from but here’s one idea we can arrange for you:
Take a mid-afternoon Eurostar from London to Paris, making a quick hop over to Gare de Lyon. Here you might have time for a drink in the famed Train Bleu restaurant before boarding a very comfortable sleeper service to Milan – all 1st class cabins here have their own WC/shower and at-seat waiter service. You’ll wake and enjoy your breakfast prior to arrival into Milan and have time for a proper Italian espresso before your high-speed service to Rome. You can continue into the mountains by train or our local team will meet you on arrival into Rome. Of course, you might also decide to spend the day and an evening in Rome before continuing.
For your return you can cover the same ground or skip back via any Italian, Swiss, French or German route you choose. That’s the beautiful flexibility of travelling by train.