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Wildlife of Europe Series - Italy 🎥

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Italy is a country renowned for its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine. However, the country is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, both on land and in the surrounding seas. From majestic wolves to adorable dormice, Italy boasts an array of animal species that are worth exploring.

One of the most iconic animals in Italy is the brown bear. These magnificent creatures can be found in the Apennine Mountains in central Italy and the Alps in the north. While they were once hunted to near extinction, conservation efforts have helped the population to recover in recent years. The bears are now a protected species, and visitors to the national parks in these regions may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them in the wild.

Another animal that is synonymous with Italy is the wolf. The Italian wolf is a subspecies of the grey wolf and is found primarily in the central and southern regions of the country. Wolves were once hunted heavily in Italy, but their population has grown in recent years thanks to conservation efforts. Visitors to national parks like Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park may be able to spot wolves in their natural habitat.

Italy is also home to a variety of small mammals, including the charming dormouse. These adorable creatures are found throughout Italy, from the mountains to the coast. They are known for their long periods of hibernation, during which they slow their metabolism to conserve energy. Visitors to Tuscany or Umbria may be able to spot dormice in the trees, where they make their homes.

In addition to land animals, Italy is also home to a wide range of marine life. The waters surrounding the country are home to dolphins, whales, and sea turtles, among other species. One of the most famous marine animals in Italy is the monk seal, which can be found in the waters around Sardinia and Sicily. These seals are an endangered species, with only a few hundred individuals remaining in the wild.

Birdwatchers will also be pleased with the variety of avian life in Italy. The country is a popular destination for migratory birds, as it is situated on the Mediterranean flyway. Some of the most common species include the hoopoe, the bee-eater, and the roller. Visitors to the Po Delta or the Venetian Lagoon may be able to spot flamingos, which are known to flock to these regions during their breeding season.

The Hoopoe (Upupa Epops) is a colourful bird that is found across Afro-Eurasia, notable for its distinctive 'crown' of feathers. It is the only extant species in the family Upupidae

Of course, no discussion of Italian wildlife would be complete without mentioning the country's most famous animal: the Italian stallion. These magnificent horses are an iconic symbol of Italy and can be found throughout the country. They are known for their beauty, grace, and strength, and have been bred in Italy for centuries. Visitors to Tuscany or Umbria may be able to take a horseback ride through the countryside to experience the beauty of these animals firsthand.

Horseback Riding in Pian Grande di Castelluccio di Norcia - Monti Sibilline, Italy (Credit Flickr)

While Italy may be known for its cultural attractions, the country's wildlife is a true treasure that is often overlooked. From majestic bears to adorable dormice, the variety of animal species in Italy is truly remarkable. Whether you're a nature lover, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply looking for a new adventure, exploring the wildlife of Italy is an experience that should not be missed.

“To restore stability to our planet we must restore biodiversity. The very thing we’ve removed. It’s the only way out of this crisis we’ve created. We must rewild the world.” - David Attenborough

🎥 (16:35) Restoring Italy’s Wild Heart

Restoring Italy’s Wild Heart is a short film that places a spotlight on the people in the Apennine Mountain range, who are doing extraordinary things to restore their native ecosystem and promote progressive coexistence within it. Only 2 hours from Rome but untouched by heavy industry, this almost forgotten region is a reminder of how things once were, and is known as the country’s ‘Wild Heart’. It is also a sanctuary for the native species who once roamed throughout Italy… From the iconic Marsican Brown bear, the Apennine Wolf, Griffon vultures, Wild cats, scores of ungulates… From the biggest to the smallest – it is brimming with life.

Filmed, edited, directed by Olly Pemberton

More of our series “Wildlife in Europe”:

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