Me and my wife took the flight from Copenhagen to Catania on Sicily and continued with train and boat to mainland Italy where we met in Reggio de Calabria with Anders Selmer and his family who hade driven down in camper car from Sweden during more than a month. Together we should travel together in the camper car on the tip of the Italian “boot”. The first goal was the national park Aspromonte on the very tip of the “boot”. From Reggio de Calabria we climbed up the mountains to Gambarie where we camped outside the village.
We woke up early and continued to drive up in the mountains until we reached the snow at 1800 m above sea level on Monte Cocuzza Westside. Here we parked and walked along the creek Amendolea to a nice meadow. In the very cold water we found several juvenile Italian Stream Frogs (Rana italica) and some eggs. It was quite warm in the sun during the day but at night it was freezing. We enjoyed the beautiful mountain landscape and made several stop on the way back to Gambarie where we slept another night.
We were up early as is normal when you sleep in tent and started our travel north along the mountain range. The beech forest was in the most beautiful state with leaves just opened. We stopped when it looked interesting and saw among others Western Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata) and Common Toad (Bufo bufo). In the afternoon we came down to the coast in the south, visited some ancient roman remnants and stopped for the night at a camping. The camping was situated nice at the beach just north of a river mouth. At night we made an excursion in the river area and found water frogs, Green Toad (Epidalea viridis) and Italian Tree Frog (Hyla intermedia). On the wall in the camping there where several Moorish geckos (Tarentola mauritanica).
This day we drove up to Sila picola and hade nice weather in midday when we made a walk in the countryside. At night we camped outside the national park south of Monaco. Early in the morning we found an Agile Frog (Rana dalmatina) in a small ruin near the campsite. During the day we made a walk in a valley some kilometers northeast of Monaco. There was a constructed pond beside a closed tourist residence. In the pond there were enormous amounts of Common Toad (Bufo bufo) spawn and a few Agile Frogs (Rana dalmatina). In a well we saw larvae of Salamandra salamandra and small Italian Stream Frogs (Rana italica). In the afternoon we drove up to Lago ampollino where we stayed at the camping.
After a cloudy morning it became quite nice weather and we drove up to Sila grande, crossed by Monte Spina and made an excursion east of Fossiata on nice mountain meadows. On one meadow we found several Italian Three-toed Skinks (Chalcides chalcides) and some Western Green Lizards (Lacerta bilineata) trying to warm up in the sun. The next night we found a camping west of the park. In the evening we heard Italian Tree Frogs (Hyla intermedia) from a pond near by and later in the night the temperature went below zero!
This day we spent the morning in a small forest reserve with giant pine trees. At lunchtime it became cloudy and could and we made a walk in the mountains close by.
We drove down to Cosenza where we said goodbye to our hosts during one week. The weather had not been good with just some few hours' sun in total. The Selmer family had a very cold journey down through Italy almost without a really nice day during the hole of April. Later on it became better and this year it would have been better later on in May and June for looking for herpetofauna. We had expected much warmer weather and much more species than we saw.
Me and my wife went back to Sicily where we spent another week in Taormina on the east cost. In the ancient roman settlement by the shore I saw several Western Whipe Snakes (Hierophis viridiflavus) and one Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica) but apart from this not much. I hoped to see Sicily Wall Lizard but did not se any around Taormina and not even on a day on Etnas northeast slope. Here we saw many Italian Wall Lizards (Podarcis siculus). I also rented a car one day and went to Arigento but had bad luck with the weather and did not see any lizards. For Sicily I guess it is important to have better locations for herpetofauna to make a successful journey.
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