“Bosco di Santo Pietro” is a Site of Community Importance. It is located in the southern part of the district of Caltagirone and it extends towards the flatland of Vittoria in the south east; it is bounded by the deep valleys Terrana and Ogliastro in the north and the torrent Ficuzza in the east.
The first historic testimony of the woods, composed of an ancient and impenetrable cork oak forest, goes back to 1160, when the king of Normandy, Roger, gave it to the city of Caltgirone, together with the vast barony of Fetanasimo, as a reward for the help shown in the battle against the Saracens. At the time its extension consisted of 30.000 hectares.
In 1923 a new project was launched: the partition of the woods and the creation of a garden city named Mussolinia. The project, inspired by the ancient roman architecture, was approved by Benito Mussolini himself.
As time went by, the village became forgotten, but the Comune of Caltagirone has been trying to reintroduce it lately, promoting many initiatives.
The strong presence of humans over the centuries changed the physiognomy of the territory.
Nevertheless, some areas, such as Fontana del Cacciatore (Hunter’s fountain) and Fontana Molara, still keep a dense vegetation which reminds the tourist of the beauty of the ancient forest.
Santo Pietro is the last patch of the Mediterranean forest in the southern Sicily.
It adjoins the Sughereta of Niscemi, which is a Site of Community Importance (SCI) and a natural reserve.
In the past they constituted the biggest cork oak woods of the central Sicily, which extended from the hinterland of the city of Caltagirone to the coastlines of Gela and Scoglitti.
Despite the degradation, deforestation and the indiscriminate use of the forestry assets, the Bosco di Santo Pietro woods still has virgin areas rich with biodiversity.
Besides the typical species of the Mediterranean scrub, there are more plants: the Globularia alypum, the one and only in Sicily, the Carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), whose trunk can reach a 3 m circumference, and the kermes oak (Quercus coccifera).
It is a heterogeneous environment and so there is a rich and various fauna: birds of prey such as the short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus), the Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), the Eurasian hobby (Falco subbuteo),and some typical passeriformes of the Mediterranean areas, such as the Dartford warbler (Sylvia undata), the the long-tailed tit of Sicily (Aegithalos caudatus siculus), and, in the winter,some rare finches, such as the Eurasian siskin (Spinus spinus), the red crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) and the hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes).
Among the mammals, there are rare sightings of the wildcat (Felis silvestris), the European pine marten (Martes martes) and the crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata), whose sightings are increasing.
Among the reptiles, some common species are the viper (Vipera aspis) and the leopard snake (Zamenis situla).