Surface: 33995 ha
Other protection status: The SCI is overlapped with a SPA named Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga (IT7110128).
The climate of the SCI “Gran Sasso” (IT7110202) can be referred to Temperate region. The area is located between 807-2912 m a.s.l.
Average annual temperatures vary between 12°C at the lower elevations and -1°C at the peak of the Corno Grande. The warmer month have a mean temperature of 20-21°C (at lower altitudes) and 1-2°C at higher altitudes. The colder month have a mean temperature between -6 °C and -8°C at higher altitudes. The slopes facing NE record a double quantity of rainfall compared to SW-facing slopes.
The Gran Sasso massif can be divided in two main areas with different orientation and morphology: the first has a rough morphology and extends from the Valley of the Vomano to the Valley of the Tavo; the other sector is characterized by hills with a north-south orientation. The alignment in the northern sector includes the highest peaks: Corno Grande (2912 m), Corno Piccolo (2655 m), Monte Aquila (2494 m), Monte Brancastello (2385 m), Monte Prena (2561 m), Monte Camicia (2564 m).
Continental deposits in the areas between the mountain peaks were produced by the action of meteoric events: an example is the vast plateau of Campo Imperatore. However, the lithological composition of the SCI area is mainly calcareous and dolomitic. These sedimentary rocks may also have a thickness of over 4000 m. The Quaternary glaciations have shaped the morphology of the mountain, and left visible traces in the valleys (for example, "U" profile), in the glacial cirques. Karst phenomena occur in the areas of Campo Imperatore and Campo Pericoli.
The western part of the area is predominantly characterized by the presence of primary and secondary grasslands, consisting mainly of Festuca sp.pl., Bromus erectus or Nardus stricta grasslands and, at higher altitudes, Sesleria sp.pl. or Elyna myosuroides communities. The typical alpine vegetation of the highest altitude is characterized by microthermal entities (Artemisia umbelliformis subsp. eriantha), glacial relicts (Silene acaulis subsp. bryoides, Linaria alpina) and endemic species such as Adonis distorta and Androsace mathildae. At lower altitudes, in the valleys and ravines, a mixed forest of Acer pseudoplatanus, Ulmus glabra, Tilia platyphyllos and Fraxinus excelsior occur. Small clusters of Betula pendula, a glacial relict, complete the variety of vegetation types of this belt.
Five different types of beech forests were identified in the Gran Sasso area. Three of these are thermophilic and occur at lower altitudes. Among these the forests referred to the association Anemono apenninae-Fagetum sylvaticae are located in the south-east of the Gran Sasso, on well-developed mesic calcareous brown soils and are characterized by the presence of Ilex aquifolium, Taxus baccata, Acer pseudoplatanus, Sorbus torminalis, Fraxinus ornus, Quercus cerris, Euonymus europaeus, Daphne laureola, Ruscus aculeatus, Laburnum anagyroides. In the northern areas similar forests are referred to the association Lathyro veneti-Fagetum sylvaticae
In the North of Gran Sasso area, on flyshoid substrate a sub-acidophilous beech forest type was identified (Potentillo micranthae-Fagetum sylvaticae).
At the highest altitudes beech forests are more similar to the central European ones (the association Cardamino kitaibelii-Fagetum sylvaticae on calcareous substrata and Actaeo spicatae-Fagetum sylvaticae, on flyschoid substrata on the northern side of Gran Sasso).
Several species of vertebrates and invertebrates included in the Habitats Directive were recorded in the SCI and its surrounding areas. Among birds species we can mention the Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius) and the Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) as woodland species that are also favoured by the occurrence of senescing trees. Among mammals it is important to mention the occurrence of Wolf (Canis lupus) and of the Chamois (Rupicapra ornata). Among the species of amphibians and reptiles we will mentionthe Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex ) and Elaphe quatuorlineata. The invertebrates are well represented with several forest-dwelling species (e.g. Cerambyx cerdo and Rosalia alpina).