Orsomarso – Extreme Wilderness in the South of Italy

by Maria E. Bellini

THE FACTS:

Where in Italy?

Seemingly complacent in the Pollino National Park of Calabria, lies the vast Orsomarso mountain range. With summits resting at an altitude of nearly 2000m above sea level. The Orsomarso, peacefully undisturbed, sprawls across 600 Square Kilometres of uninhabited wilderness.

This remote area is covered by the hardy Loricate pine treePino Loricato – the actual symbol of the Pollino National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015). Its hardy roots firmly planted in impossible rocky terrain. Wizened by time like the Orsomarso massif, it resists change.

Deep canyons and plunging gorges add to an already tough environment. The feeling being one of calm, solemn emptiness.

Pino Loricato - symbol of the Pollino National Park - Italy
Pino Loricato – symbol of the Pollino National Park – Italy

So why go to the Orsomarso for walking, hiking or running

Even the rugged atmosphere of Orsomarso is seasonally bestowed with a gentler touch that takes the edge off this harsh environment.

In the spring, intrepid wild orchids and tough little bluebells bravely dot the land. With the warmer months come extravagant red lillies for  summer delight together with wild herbs and aromatic plants. To be crowned with wild juicy berries and the sweet fruits that ripen in the late summer sun which will fade into an autumn rich in the colours of amber and honey.

The Orsomarso and Pollino National Park are home to a vast array of wildlife. Quick to hide and shy to man, the golden eagle, Egyptian vulture, Apennine wolf, wildcats, wild boars, and deer all live here undisturbed.

An endless landscape - Orsomarso, Parco del Pollino
An endless landscape – Orsomarso, Parco del Pollino

Mountainous Calabria

Calabria is a strong, mountainous region, with over 40% of land that climbs up to 600 metres above sea level and 20% that reaches over 1000 metres. Orsomarso has the lowest population density levels in the whole of Italy.
After the decline in traditional professions such as woodsmen and coal merchants the mountain villages slowly emptied as one by one, customs and life itself changed.

Orsomarso

Just 15km inland from the Riviera dei Cedri (the Citron Riviera), on the Tyrrenhian coast, lies the small medieval town that gives it’s name to the whole area: Orsomarso. Situated in the Pollino Park – in the province of Cosenza, this town, has in recent years, seen a development in the promotion of events and activities connected to Orsomarso’s surrounding countryside.

The town itself lies in the Argentino valley – near where the mighty Argentino and Lao rivers converge.

Gole del Raganello - Orsomarso
Gole del Raganello – Orsomarso

Natural Reserve of the river Argentino

Also situated in Orsomarso, is the River Argentino Nature Reserve, offering trails, rafting, canyoning and kayaking activities organised by local clubs.

What are the possibilities for walking, hiking or running in the Orsomarso?

It might not be straightforward, planning wise. But with the help of local guides and local outdoor clubs and associations, you could be in for a marvelous adventure.

When planning your trip, bear in mind:

  • The remoteness of the area
  • The majority of Trails are not waymarked
  • The best was to experience this area is with the help of local guides
  • Cell phone coverage will be scarce

Useful tip:

Research your trip well and get a guide!

Want something more?

If you’re feeling adventurous check out the Sentiero Italia “Grand Italian Trail” –  a 6166 kilometre long hiking trail that crosses the entire country of Italy. The project originated in 1983 amongst a group of ambitious hikers although today the trail remains inconsistent in waymarkings and maintenance.

See more details here: Traildino Sentiero Italia

What Trail Race Events can I enter in the Orsomarso?

ORSOMARSO TRAIL RUNNING
Where: Orsomarso – Cosenza (CS), Calabria – Italy
Distance / elevation gain: 19km / 650m D+
Other distances: 7km and kids trail 800m

Gruppo Avventura - Orsomarso Trail Running
Gruppo Avventura – Orsomarso Trail Running

Find out more

Parco Pollino National Park: www.parcopollino.it
Calabria toursim: www.turiscalabria.it
Rafting Club: www.raftinglao.it
Orsomarso information websites:
www.abystron.org
www.orsomarsoblues.it

 

Landscape of the Pollino National Park, Calabria Italy
Landscape of the Pollino National Park, Calabria Italy

Useful info

Contact Gruppo Avventura – organisers of the Orsomarso Trail race and enthusiastic hikers themselves
Website: www.gruppoavventura.com

When to go
Late spring, early and late summer, and autumn.

Nearest airports
Fly to Bari, Lamezia Terme, Naples

Get around
The best way to get around is by car

Don’t miss!
The spicy spreadable sausage: ‘Nduja, Calabria


Maria E. BelliniMaria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.

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