Biodiversity at its best

A place inhabited since prehistoric times where myth and nature meet themselves. The island of Eea, home of the sorceress Circe. National Park, an abundance of biomes.
Established in 1934, Circeo National Park was born in order to protect not only a single species but also a rich group of characteristic biomes with a consequent abundance of species which today has been defined as biodiversity. The park can be divided into five main habitats: The Coastal Dune; The Forest; The Promontory; The Wetlands; Island of Zannone.

The forest included in the park, occupying a grossly square sector between the SS 148 Pontina state road and the coast of San Felice Circeo, is the last relic of the so-called ancient “Selva di Terracina”, once occupying much of what is now the central province of Latina. Now reduced to an area of c. 3,300 hectares, it is anyway the largest plain forest in Italy.

The promontory of Circeo, with a maximum height of 541 m, is a Mesozoic limestone-dolomite massif with a peculiar island shape, and gives its name to the whole park. The southern slopes have a milder climate and are characterized by Mediterranean rock vegetation. Along the coast there are many caves inhabited since the time of Neanderthal Man.

The park includes 22 km of coastline characterized by typical dunes of fine sand from the limestone cliffs of the Mount Circeo up to Capo Portiere. The dune reaches a maximum height of 27 meters. The coastal dune environment is particularly difficult and pioneer plant species have had to develop special adaptations to live.

The humid area of the Circeo park includes four coastal salt lakes: Paola, Caprolace, Monaci and Fogliano, which are what remains of the Pontine Marshes and currently are home to a vast wildlife of aquatic birds. With a maximum depth of two meters, they are connected to the sea through a series of canals and along the banks there are marshes and swamps.

Zannone is a small island belonging to the Ponziano archipelago, annexed to the park in 1979. Uninhabited except for a colony of wild sheep the island kept its original vegetation cover. The island is about 102ha and reaches a maximum altitude of 194 meters (Monte Pellegrino).

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