The hills that open around Atri, an ancient city of art in the province of Teramo that has the pride of having given its name to the Adriatic Sea, are characterized by accentuated forms of erosion that run through the sandstone and are called "calanchi" "(also known as" Bolge "or" Scrimoni "in the dialectal language of the place).
They constitute the most suggestive and spectacular form of the Adriatic hill landscape, real natural sculptures. The appearance of these formations derives from a form of dynamic wind erosion, caused by past deforestation and favored by the continuous desiccation and washout that act on the particular type of clays present and characterize them with deep vertical incisions that make visible numerous marine fossils. Despite being present in many hills of Abruzzo, the gullies only in the surroundings of Atri are so extensive and spectacular that they have determined the establishment of a Regional Nature Reserve whose extension is 380 hectares and develops from 106 meters above sea level of the valley bottom of the Torrente Piomba at 468 meters of the Colle della Giustizia.
In the Reserve there is a very varied habitat: calanque cliffs, ditches, ponds, wooded patches, cultivated fields and reforestation. Apparently barren and inhospitable, the calanques are home to a rich and diverse flora and fauna. Among the plant species we report the Caper, the wild Artichoke, the odorous Broom, the Tamerice, the Hawthorn and, used in the food industry since 1811, the Licorice.
Among the numerous animal species are diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey (kestrel, buzzard, sparrow-hawk, barn owl, tawny owl, owl) and mammals (badger, fox, hedgehog, hare, weasel, marten). The porcupine, symbol of the protected area, has been reported in the area for over 30 years, although its highly elusive character and its nocturnal habits make it difficult to sight. The Reserve is free of fences and can be visited freely along the marked trails, which start from Colle della Giustizia, where there is the Visitor Center.
During the summer the Reserve organizes a rich summer excursion program by appointment, with visits even at night during the full moon.