Covering the widest part of the Calabrian peninsula, the Sila massif, east of Cosenza, is more of an extensive plateau than a mountain range, though the peaks on its western flank reach heights of nearly 2000m. Protected by the Parco Nazionale della Sila (w parcosila.it), it’s divided into three main groups: the Sila Greca, Sila Grande and Sila Piccola, of which the Sila Grande is of most interest to tourists.
At one time the Sila was one huge forest and was exploited from earliest times to provide fuel and material for the construction of fleets, fortresses and even for church-building in Rome, resulting in a deforestation that helped bring about the malarial conditions that for centuries blighted much of Calabria. The cutting of trees is now strictly controlled, and ancient pines (the so-called Giganti della Sila), which can live for several hundred years, are among the region’s chief attractions. There’s plenty here, too, for the outdoors enthusiast: in summer the area provides relief from the heat of the towns, and in winter there’s downhill and cross-country skiing.