A very rewarding trip can be made into the Sila range. La Sila consists of three parts - the main range, Sila Grande, the Sila Piccola to the south, and along the northern edge of the range the Sila Greca, named after the Albanians of the Greek Orthodox faith who have been settled here since the 15th century. The Sila is a plateau-like massif of ancient rocks with a total area of 3,300 sq.km/1,274 sq.mi and an average height of 1,300-1,400m/3,900-4,620ft, rising to 1,930m/6,370ft in Botte Donato, which presents a precipitous face to the Crati valley, but falls away gradually towards the Gulf of Taranto. Its extensive forests of chestnuts, beeches, oaks, black spruces and pines are still inhabited by wolves as well as by numerous black squirrels. Since 1927 the rivers have been harnessed to provide electricity by the construction of dams which form large artificial lakes; the most attractive of these are Lago Arvo (1,280m/4,224ft) and Lago Ampollino.On the high plateaux, with their extensive areas of grazing, the trim houses of the new settlers who have been established here under the government's land reform form a striking contrast to the wretched cottages of the past.
In the north of the Sila Greca, picturesquely situated on a hillside a few kilometers from the sea, is Rossano (275m/908ft; pop. 33,000), once capital of Calabria and still the see of an archbishop. On a crag to the southeast of the town is the church of San Marco, a church of Byzantine type on a centralized plan, with five domes, dating from the Norman period. The Museo Diocesano contains a valuable sixth century Gospel manuscript. From the terrace half-way along Via Garibaldi there is a very fine view of Monte Pollino and the Apulian plain.
About 32km/20mi northwest of Rossano, in the lower course of the Crati, not far from the sea, are the remains of the ancient city of Sybaris, founded in 709 B.C. by Achaeans, which became proverbial for its luxury but was destroyed in 510 B.C. by the people of Croton. Systematic excavations have been carried out here since 1960 by Milan Technical College and Pennsylvania University.
San Giovanni in Fiore, Italy
To the south of the Sila range, near Lago Ampollino, lies San Giovanni in Fiore (1,049m/3,462ft; pop. 20,000), the center of the Sila region and a summer resort, renowned for its beautiful costumes and craft work.
Calabria National Park
In the Sila range three regions are under protection orders and together form the "Parco Nazionale della Calabria". They are the regions around the town of Fossiata and Monte Gariglione and a part of the Aspromonte. The commonest tree found in the forests is the pina iaricio, which gives the landscape a northern appearance. The fauna is worthy of note: in addition to the Apennine wolf, the Bonetti eagle and the rare black woodpecker may be seen. There are good roads within the national park.