The natural reserves in the province of Palermo

Wood of Favara

This green lung in the province of Palermo is a wood with notable vegetational emergencies. The most marginal areas, covered with ampelodesma, Mediterranean ferula and Mediterranean asphodel, therefore we find broom, rock rose, blackthorn and hawthorn . One of the salient aspects is given by the cork trees .

As far as fauna is concerned, the Favara wood is home to the Sicilian long- tailed tit (a sparrow discovered in Ficuzza in 1900 by J. Whitaker ), tits, blackbirds and nightingales, hoopoes, jays and red woodpeckers, wood pigeons, parvieri.

Wood of the Ficuzza

The exact denomination is: Bosco di Ficuzza oriented nature reserve, Rocca Busambra, Bosco del cappelliere and Gorgo del Drago , among the most characteristic Sicilian nature reserves.

The hunting area, and the relative Casina Reale, were commissioned by Ferdinand III of Bourbon in the 19th century as a deer hunting residence , at the time numerous among the fortresses overlooking Monreale and Godrano.

The Ficuzza area offers a set of habitats so different that it can include over a thousand different plant species and almost all of the animals present in Sicily .

The vast extension coincides with very different climates, hence the differentiation of the presence of the species. Aided nature trails lead to forests of holm oaks, oaks, downy oaks and cork oaks, Turkey oaks . For the faunal aspects, quite quickly, let's say that here the last wild cats find an ideal shelter - some specimens are still present on Etna - and weasels, hedgehogs, foxes. Unfortunately, large mammals, such as wolves, have disappeared.

Among the places of greatest interest: Gorgo Lungo, gorgo tondo and the king's fish pond, the Dragon's Gorge, the Romito's cave, the ammucciata water (hidden), the Fanuso and the Capreria . Finally, inside the Reserve, in synergy with the Lipu, there is a wildlife recovery center with an educational room.

Capo Gallo

The reserve owes its name to Monte Gallo , a carbonate relief, formed in several phases 250 million years ago. This karst mountain is enriched by a series of geological emergencies: the Fossa del Gallo, the Grotta Perciata, the Grotta dei Caprari, that of the Vitelle, the Grotta Regina and the Grotta Caramula, the Impisu cave . Recent traces testify in the past to the presence of Quaternary animal degrees, such as the deer and the hippopotamus.

The human testimonies inside the Grotta Regina are also extremely interesting: traces of human and animal figures, probably from the Punic period and perhaps even earlier. The depths of the Grotta dell'Olio house the wreck of a Carthaginian ship . In a cave in Monte Gallo, the skeleton of a Quaternary dwarf elephant, which lived 230,000 years ago, was found.

Lentisk, sea fennel and the various species of Limonium make up the typically Mediterranean cegetal landscape.

The only large mammal present is the fox, the presence of the green toad is significant.

The Capogallo Reserve certainly constitutes a unicuum with the Isola delle Femmine marine reserve . On the sandy bottom, posidonia lives, coral is found on the Secca della Barra, about 65 meters deep.

Mount Carcaci

Between Prizzi, Castronovo di Sicilia, this peak, 1200 meters high, of the calcareous-carbonatic type, has a wide vegetation spectrum. The typical Mediterranean scrub, with shrubs, is the ideal habitat for the great spotted woodpecker .

One of the characteristics of the reserve is the presence of a small mammal, Savi's vole, a little mole, a little hamster. It lives underground, but often goes out to nibble on artichokes! The Reserve was born in 1997, and is managed by the Demanio Foreste.

The vegetation is composed of shredders, butcher's broom and spinos or asparagus. However, it is on the north-western side that the holm oak and downy oak woods offer the visitor all their coolness. The other peak of the reserve is Pizzo Colobria. In the reserve there is also a wet area, the seasonal lake of Marcato delle Lavanche.

Monte Genuardo

Between Giuliana, Sambuca and Contessa Entellina, in the wine districts , along the gentle slopes of the Sicani, this reserve, founded in 1997, offers numerous attractions for the visitor .

These mountains of carbonate origin, of the secondary era, were the protagonists of landslides and erosion actions. Impassable rocks were born, even with lava components, on which a Mediterranean forest composed of holm oaks, downy oaks and maples was independently planted.

The undergrowth is full of wild roses, asphodel, Mediterranean shrubs. Towards Bosco del Pomo , some wet areas originate from two cold streams. There is also a visitor center equipped with trails dedicated to environmental education.

The area was also established to protect the archaeological site of Adrenon , an ancient town of Punic origin. Also worth visiting is the splendid abbey of Santa Maria del Bosco .

San Calogero

The San Calògero mountain system represents a sort of ring between the Conca d'oro and the Madonie . Between Termini Imerese, Caccamo and Sciara, this massif, easily identifiable from a distance, has its sides covered with holm oaks and Mediterranean scrub. Over the centuries, sub-volcanic actions have changed its appearance.

In fact, it is the product of subterrestrial tectonic forces. Place of study by many geologists , San Calogero is often cited for the characteristics of Poggio Balate, where hydrothermal streams of fluorite emerge from the rocks , which originate very particular minerals.

Ideal place for large birds of prey: among the cracks of these Mesozoic era rocks we find the peregrine falcon and the buzzard , which find a fantastic ideal nest for birdwatching . The managing body, the State Forestry Company, has for some time started an environmental education path dedicated to schools.

Punta Cane, Trigna and Mazzamuto

It represents what remains today of the ancient forest of Termini , a forest of which very little survives today. Raptors and mammals well acclimatized.

Limestone rocks and siliceous walls alternate with intrusions of volcanic rocks. The speleological emergencies concern some very particular caves: the Brigli cave and the Lion cave, the Mazzamuto cave in fact, host rare plant species.

The natural woods of holm oak, oak and cork leave space, at their feet, for a dense undergrowth of heather, broom and citiso in which a multitude of small mammals nest. Rabbits and weasels, but above all the largest Sicilian population of Apennine rabbits.

Greenhouses of Pizzuta

From the Piana degli Albanesi some carbonate rocks of very ancient times rise majestically, today covered with large forests: these are the Pizzuta greenhouses.

The Reserve offers the visitor some interesting caves, such as the Zubbione cave , and the Garrone (or Ladroni) large caves in which still today, thanks to the particular climatic conditions, some very rare ferns, the cervina tongue and the scolopendria live.

The caves offer shelter to a rare bat , the greater horseshoe.

The slopes of the Serre are inhabited by mammals such as foxes and rabbits, and by some large nocturnal and diurnal raptors, such as the Bonelli's eagle, the peregrine falcon, and the golden eagle . It was in the past, together with Alcara Li Fusi , one of the privileged places of the griffin .

Ustica Island

The island of Ustica Distinct from the marine protected area, it constitutes an extraordinary environment for its charm and variety.

The presence of a series of relevant elements led, in 1997, to the establishment of the reserve, entrusted to the management of the regional Province of Palermo.

The flora includes over 500 typical species. Due to its strategic position, the island is a resting place for at least a couple of hundred species of migratory birds . The island, of volcanic nature, born over half a million years ago, and inhabited for almost 4 thousand years, is a renowned tourist center, but also a fertile ground for valuable crops .

Baths of Cefalà Diana

The mountainous relief, which reaches up to 670 meters, is of carbonate and dolomitic limestone origin, of the two sides, the southern one is more practicable, characterized by Mediterranean scrub. Significant traces have been found in the area that testify to the presence of man since prehistoric times. One of the most important emergencies is the building of the baths of Cefalà , whose origin is to be put in connection with the existence of a series of high temperature thermal water pipes.

There are foxes, rabbits and hedgehogs. For the avifauna, the cappellaccia, the strilozzo, the kestrel, and the lanner, a rare falcon. The management is entrusted to the regional province of Palermo.


Caporama represents a connecting line of the Palermo coast, in the past protected by a defensive system made up of watchtowers, horse trails, observation posts . The fifteenth-century tower that stands a short distance from Terrasini dates back to this period.

However, a strong anthropization close to the reserve has not compromised the naturalistic area, characterized by karst forms of the limestone rocks of the Mesozoic and carbonate age, on which plants such as euphorbia, brambles, ephedra, but above all the dwarf palm grow , a true characteristic of the Reserve, with which in the past they made common craft objects such as brooms and hats.

The coast, with rocks rich in fossils, is a cliff, with caves born from marine erosion and karst dissolution. After the excursion to the Reserve, visitors can go to the Terrasini Natural Science Museum , which houses numerous and important botanical, zoological, geological and paleontological collections.

Conza cave

Characterized by the presence of a cave of karst origin formed in contact between the Mesozoic carbonate soils (about 200 million years ago) and the clayey deposits, the entrance opens at about 200 meters above sea level on the north-eastern slope of Pizzo Manolfo ( Palermo ).

The reserve now has an area of about 12 hectares, of which 1 falls in zone A. For 35% it falls under the state property of the Forestry Company, which has planted pines, cypresses and eucalyptus trees. The remaining part, privately owned, has an abandoned olive grove and an almond grove, various plant species such as the Carob, the Ash, the Olivastro and various shrub species such as the Thyme, the Alaterno, the Lentisk, the Euphorbia and the Palm dwarf . Several animal species are present, including a colony of bats and numerous diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey.

The Conza cave is known for the discovery of paleolithic and neolithic lithic industries and the remains of Pleistocene mammalofaunas inside. Recent bio-speleological studies have confirmed the remarkable scientific interest due to the presence of 6 species of extraordinary importance , all endemic to Sicily, and 3 even exclusive to this cavity.

Carburangeli cave

The area is protected for its speleological and naturalistic value, the cavity is located in carbonate formations of the Quaternary, dug by marine erosion and is accessed from three different openings. Carburangeli is a cave that develops horizontally underground for about 400 m, alternating stalactites and stlagmites.

It is inhabited by bats, insects, crustaceans, spiders, millipedes and molluscs but it is also important for the presence of a series of natural underground tunnels and passages. Numerous fossil remains of animals that once populated Sicily have been found, but also objects used by prehistoric man of the Upper Paleolithic and the Bronze Age , as evidenced by a charcoal drawing representing a sorcerer.

Entella cave

With a minimum of speleological equipment , you can delve into a magic of stalagmites and worked plaster .

Alongside a significant fauna and vegetation heritage, characterized by the spectrum of the Mediterranean scrub and the most common specimens of small mammals found in Sicily, the Reserve also offers a visitor in search of important cultural aspects the opportunity to visit the archaeological site of Entella. .

Isle of Females

The islet is of modest size, and uninhabited, the only human trace is the characteristic tower overlooking the other fortification, the earth tower, located on the promontory of Isola delle Femmine , close to the port. A good number of migratory birds winter there, and there are some birds of prey.

The seabed is rich in ichthyofauna, octopuses and invertebrates, in the middle of winter diving excursions are recommended . The town is very characteristic, an early morning walk will reveal a lively fish market at the docking point of the marina.

Monte Pellegrino

The Reserve has a very high vegetational biodiversity among which there is a conspicuous representative contingent of Sicilian endemism.

The mycological community is significant, one of the richest in Italy, with several thousand species. Many edible species from the common champignon to the exquisite ferula mushrooms and some valuable species of Boleti , but also mushrooms of great scientific interest, such as the cup of venus .

The different types of vegetation found could not fail to influence the variety of fauna communities typical of the Mediterranean scrub, both in the Park and in the Monte.
But the most interesting species are certainly those related to the rocky walls that host diurnal birds of prey of particular interest, such as the Buzzard, the Kestrel, and the Peregrine Falcon and nocturnal birds of prey such as the Barn Owl and the Allocco .

To ideally close the golden basin, Monte Pellegrino is also a walk of pure, fresh and fragrant air a stone's throw from the city chaos. Whether you climb towards the sanctuary of Santa Rosalia , or set out on one of the many paths overlooking the splendid view of Mondello, the reserve will amaze us with its direct way of speaking to the senses.

Ciminna greenhouses

Located in the municipality of the same name, the Serre have captured the attention of geologists for their remarkable geo-morphological value, and for the karst phenomena they present. It is in fact a rocky-evaporitic formation of the upper Miocene, that is 6 million years ago. The rocks are a succession of sinkholes and sinkholes, on which a spontaneous flora has gradually adapted.

In fact, we find the sea squill, the clover, the asphodel, the ferula, the olive tree, the sumac, the broom, mixed with euphorbia and wallflower. For large birds of prey, we find the buzzard, kestrel, the lanner falcon, the blue rock thrush, as well as the Egyptian vulture, which nests here . Porcupines and foxes complete the picture.

Molara cave

The oriented nature reserve of Grotta Molar a is of considerable importance from a paleontological point of view, as confirmed by the recent findings of two Mesolithic-era burials .

Alongside the creation of a relationship based on mutual trust and mutual respect with the inhabitants of the area, the managing body will work on a series of infrastructural interventions which, together with the launch of an interesting series of scientific studies, also of an ornithological and wildlife, and with the official opening to the public, will allow the general public to know and appreciate this new reserve.

Grotta dei Puntali

A real treasure chest containing paleontological and archaeological evidence as well as numerous faunal peculiarities (cave-dwelling invertebrates and bats) rarely found elsewhere.

The finds collected since the 19th century are now kept in the "A. Salinas" Archaeological Museum and the "Gaetano Giorgio Gemmellaro" Museum of Geology of the University of Palermo.

In addition, Palazzo d'Aumale, seat of the Regional Museum of Natural History and permanent exhibition of the Sicilian cart of Terrasini, preserves, among the assets acquired in its heritage, also those relating to the geo-paleontological collection of the naturalist Teodosio De Stefani (1909-1978) ; these contain numerous finds of continental and prehistoric vertebrate fossils collected by the eclectic naturalist in the cavity.

From the more strictly naturalistic point of view, the site represents an important station for the survival of a polyspecific colony of bats , included in the EEC directive 92/43 of the species of community interest (in danger of extinction).

It is a mainly horizontal cavity, about 110 meters long and 15 meters wide, set on two different levels connected by not very deep wells.

Outside the cavity, two leaf grooves are clearly visible, which testify to an ancient presence of the sea, while inside the signs of marine entrances are less evident and instead those due to intense karst activity take place.

The floor of the cave consists of a brownish gray deposit affected, in some points, by drying cracks surrounded by whitish efflorescence. The walls and vaults are covered with a dense network of clayey vermiculations known as "leopard skin". About 30m from the entrance, the cavity has a yellowish brown deposit containing fragments of elephant tusks. It represents what remains of the original ossiferous horizon after the excavations, which have remained unpublished, carried out by Prof. Gaetano Giorgio Gemellaro between 1868 and 1870.

Towards the inside, the cave narrows, becomes more tortuous, adorned with carbonate concretions and presents various forms of erosion, such as subcircular incisions (scallops) and a network of tunnels connected by shallow wells, testifying to an ancient phreatic regime of considerable entity.

The cave, known as mentioned for having returned numerous fossil remains belonging to a Pleistocene continental fauna, is still today of great interest for scientific research; furthermore, the cavity has been the subject of study for its paleontological content, documented by findings ranging from the Upper Paleolithic to the Bronze Age .