Where the Alps curl into the Apennines and the Apennines stretch southward, plunging on both sides into the sea, it marks not only the natural boundaries of Italy but presents a landscape of rugged, dramatically picturesque beauty perfect for couples.
On your visit to Italy, there are nine must-see natural parks, three each from Italy's three geographic wonders, perfect for your Italian honeymoon: the Alps, the Apennines, and the Italian Coast.
Mountain Range: Italian Alps
The Alps have always been a treasure, from Bronze Age metalworkers to modern lovers of nature for their quiet grandeur and implacable indifference to history.
Gran Paradiso National Park
Nestled in the Italian Alps' northwest pocket, the Graian Alps, the eponymous Gran Paradiso mountain, dominates this park. Created to provide a refuge to the once-endangered Alpine ibex, Gran Paradiso has become a national treasure in its own right. The mountainsides have a "wet side" and a "dry side," giving each a distinctive biome.
Bellunisi Dolomites National Park
Dolomite, once favored by metalsmiths for use as a flux in iron smelting, is the bright white rock that gives the Bellunisi Dolomites National Park, located in northeast Italy, its name. The gray, green, and blue mountains fall away to prairie and lake. This scene is shot through with dramatic bands of bright white dolomite, creating a uniquely picturesque geography.
Stelvio National Park
In the northern Italian Alps lies the maze of mountains and valleys of Stelvio National Park. The largest national park in Italy, Stelvio, offers raw nature in its most diverse form, from rugged glaciers to lush river valleys. The myriad waterfalls have many "waterfall trails" for nature lovers to explore, and Stelvio's Alpine villages are as unique as the varied lands they cultivate.
Mountain Range: Apennines
Italy's national character, of geographically separated towns and villages with sometimes wildly different customs, descends from the Apennines.
Tuscan-Emilian National Park
This park lies between the Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna regions in northern Italy, where the Alps give way to the Apennines. Gateway to the Mediterranean, where Po River Valley connects Europe through Italy to the Mediterranean Sea, much of the rich history of Italy passes through this region. The Italian film industry favors the area for its diverse but distinctively Italian locations.
National Park of Abruzzo and La Camosciara
Of all the mountain parks Abruzzo National Park, in central Italy, is the most alive. Lush with hundreds of species of underbrush and ancient forests of trees, both deciduous and coniferous, Abruzzo buzzes with life.
La Camosciara, the "oasis of the chamois," is best visited by horse, and the park itself is best experienced by those with the physical stamina for long hikes.
Gran Sasso National Park
Part of the Abruzzo region, Gran Sasso national park features the Gran Sasso Peak and the Calderone Glacier. The trails here are sloped so that features such as the Peak are accessible by bicycle, making this park a favorite for cyclists. Given the frequent harsh weather, wind, and snow, it is helpful to know that the Grand Highway of the Gran Sasso provides access to the most noteworthy scenery by car.
A nexus of trade since antiquity, the ports along Italy's bustling coasts are teased out of the rugged terrain where towering rock crashes into the Mediterranean.
Gargano National Park
The Gargano Promontory, often called "the spur of Italy," hosts its eponymous national park in the Italian province of Foggia. At Gargano, houses might be built right onto the cliffs overlooking treacherous waters while nearby smooth sandy beaches beckon visitors to relax. Finally, there is Lago Salso, the most critical wetland in Italy, with its crown jewel "Lago Salso Oasis," a huge habitat of thousands of ponds and saltwater marshes restored from reclaimed farmland in one of Italy's most massive conservation projects.
Cinque Terre National Park
Cinque Terre, on the western coast of Italy, hosts settlements as charming as the land is rough. In a picturesque fusion of architectural wonder and rustic charm, coastal villages nestle into the mountains like natural formations, rising and falling with their rugged rock foundations. Everywhere civilization reckons with nature and the sea.
Tuscan Archipelago National Park
Between Corsica and Tuscany are islands so beautiful ancient Roman legend held they were pearls dropped by Venus herself. Elba, the island of crystals, has sparkling natural treasures spanning the periodic table. Giglio, a SCUBA diver's paradise, has blue sponges and sea horses in bright, clear waters. The aquamarine beaches in bright blue coves, warm sand, rolling green hills, and the stark volcanic island of Capraia truly live up to the ancient Roman legends.
Perfect for a Honeymoon
No honeymoon in Italy is complete without taking in the grandeur of her national parks. Rugged, quiet, physically challenging, relaxing, and serene, Italy's national parks are the perfect place for you and your spouse to begin building your lifetime of memories.