The lakes and the springs represent another important reading key for the area of the Regional Park.
The presence of three lakes (Matese, Gallo, and Letino) on the top plateau of the Matese has given birth to a wonderful natural habitat; the valley where they are situated is one of the most beautiful valleys of the Apennines and at the same time one of the best preserved valleys as far as the landscape is concerned. For this reason, the place has been established as Special Protection Area, according to the Directive 79/409/CEE.
The lake Matese, the highest karstic lake in Italy, collects the waters of Monte Miletto and of Gallinola and it is important for the abundant lacustrine flora of rushes and reeds giving the opportunity to a great variety of aquatic birds to rest and nest in the area. Its relevance is given both by the water aspect as feeder of bearing layers and subterranean rivers, and for the use of hydroelectric energy.
The lakes of Letino and Gallo have been created by blocking the course
of the rivers Lete and Sava and are still used nowadays for
Moreover, the biotope Le Mortine, nowadays a WWF sanctuary for which the establishment of a Special Protection Area has been required, is very interesting. The Cormorants (Phaalcrocorax carbo) use the mesophile woods of the Sanctuary to sleep at night, and at the sunset you can see about 300 of them on the trees, while the Coots (Fulica atra), a species living in the area the whole year, are more than a thousand, plus the specimens coming from northern-eastern Europe.
Moreover, it is necessary to quote the winter stay of the White Herons (Casmerodius albus), more than ten units in the nocturnal places of stay situated on the high-trunk trees surrounding the basin.
They are the two ramparts of the Matese area: the former stands out
with its 2,050 meters, the second is a bit lower and reaches the 1,923
meters. They represent both a unique and uncontaminated scenario, since
there are no roads in the area.
From the pointed peak of Miletto you can enjoy a view of exceptional magnificence: below the lake, in the distance great part of Molise and Campania, in the north the Mainarde, Maiella, and Gran Sasso. Unequalled the view of the two seas, the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic Sea.
On the contrary, the peak of Gallinola has a squat shape, and on the southern side there are several small hunches and plains gently climbing up to the top; both the northern and the southern slope are bare and broken by deep incisions.
Wonderful the plateaus of Campolongo, Pisellone, and Camerelle.
The uniqueness of the "deposits" of Pietraroja is ascertained above all as far as fish, amphibians, and reptiles are concerned.
In the limestone and ichthyolites there are more than 20 species of lagoonal fish, fish of freshwater, of brackish and open sea water, all marvelously preserved with well-evident scales and fishbones.
Among the amphibians, a wonderful ancestor specimen of the current salamanders and among the reptiles two specimens of crocodiles and the famous dinosaur whelp (max. size 30 cm), known as "Ciro".
The dinosaur of Pietraroja had affinities with Velociraptor (reconstructed in the movie Jurassic Park), and the adult could reach the size of three - four meters. The shape and the size of the skull, the set of teeth rich in pointed teeth, and the limbs lead to think that it was a rather evolved carnivorous animal. It had a rather developed digestive apparatus, and if you are careful you can also see the trace of the liver; the big nail of the legs which probably worked as an assault instrument are marked. The paleontologists Dal Sasso and Signore, who studied first the dinosaur fossil, determined its age in 113 million of years.
Several finds are preserved in a small Museum situated in the nearby Municipality of Cusano Mutri.
Thanks to the find of Scypionix Samniticus and to its perfect fossilization, researchers have given new vigor to the study of the whole Park area.
The biotope of Bosco degli Zappini, extending itself above Fontegreca up to the valley of the river Sava, is of considerable interest.
It is a spontaneous cypress grove of about 70 hectares, present in the area at least since 1500. Within the wood there are small swimming-pools and natural ponds of crystal-clear water created by the stream Sava.
It represents one of the most interesting spontaneous cypress groves of the Mediterranean basin, and it is an ideal destination for botanical researchers because of its rareness.
Discovered in the 17th century, it has been studied by the Tuscan Accademia dei Georgofili and it has recently been object of a research financed within the Community Program Interreg.
Situated above the Dam of the Lake of Letino, on two parallel plans at
a distance of about 89 meters one from the other, they are of
indescribable beauty, with stalactite and stalagmite games. The upper
gallery wedges itself in the mountain and is characterized by a thick
vegetation and by several small waterfalls of the river plunging
towards the Volturno Valley. The lower gallery has been dug into the
rock by the waters of the river Lete.
The caves are not yet adequately equipped, and to visit them it is necessary to use ladders and ropes, and to be led by a guide. The wonderful phenomena of these karstic cavities, stalactites, stalagmites, potholes, various concretions, pay for the effort of the adventurous hiker. Among the fauna of the cavern there is, besides the natural inhabitants of caves and caverns, a white aquatic crustacean without eyes, and it is rather frequent to sight a butterfly with phosphorescent eyes.
The presence of castle, walls, towers, fortified villages characterizes
the landscape of the Matese area, and offers the visitor a fascinating
environment rich in history.
Most of the villages still preserve the ancient medieval structure: the accesses, the walls, the noble palace, the churches.
One of the most significant examples is the castle of Prata, built in the 12th century, and perfectly preserved with its cylindrical towers in the corners. It is part of a small village, still partially enclosed by its walls and elevating on a rocky spur degrading towards the river Lete.