has the longest beach of the finest sand lapped by the Tyrrhenian
sea, it also revels in the marble shadow of the majestic
Apuan Alps ,which offer a variegated landscape,
full of life or silence, lanes in shady woods, valleys,
fields, quaint villages, ancients mills and impressive marble
quarries. And you can get away from the riviera to the mountains
in just a few minutes: from the blue of the sea to the green
of the chestnut woods, from the wide beaches to the harsh
mountain tops, through gentle hillsides, among thick olive
groves and luxuriant vineyards. The history of Versilia
is no less colorful than its picturesque landscape.
The Apuane Alps are one
of the most original relief areas in Italy, for the variety
of landscape and environments. The old presence of human
settlements has left important historical and cultural witness.
The Apuane alps are known all over the world for the precious
marbles and other decorative and building stones (cipollino,
brecce, pietra del Cardoso). The Apuane are a orographic
complex of great suggestion thanks to its massive mountains,
steep morphology and deep valleys. Within a few kilometres,
starting from the small coastal plain inVersilia, the Apuane
alps rise to reach almost the 2.000 mt. of altitude with
the M. Pisanino (m 1947).
area presents remarkable samples of geomorfological
interest: moraines, erratic masses, valleys and cirques
dating to the last w?rmian glaciation. On the surface, there
are karstic phenomenons like "carreggiati" fields,
doline (Carcaraia, M. Altissimo, M. Sagro, ecc.) and many
more (Vetricia plateau; M. Forato, etc..) In the underground
are found deep abysses and the great apuane cavities, resulting
from an incredible labirinth of tunnels and wells: The one
in Corchia - for
instance - has a total length of over 70 km in a 1210 metri
of gap, and it is the major karstic system in Italy and
one of the biggest in the world.
The various nature of stones
- siliceous by the outside, and carbonatic in the center,
results in a dense vegetation together with empty spots.
From the mediterranean underscrub covering the piedmontane
strip opposite the sea, the landscape changes with oakwoods
and mixed woods of hornbeam (often turned in chestnut-tree)
to the beechwoods at 1000 m. of altitude The highest peaks
do not host many trees. The rare prairies and the limestone
cliffs host a rich flora of great interest.
The Apuane fauna has lost
big mammals (bear, wolf, linx, deer) but
has recently introduced a few herbivores such as mouflons
and goats. There are a few remarkable species of
chiroptera (living in the deeps of the cave) and among the
rodents , the snow-vole (Microtus nivalis). The bird fauna
in the mountains features the sea-crow (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax),
emblem of the park , spotted on a few peaks (M. Corchia,
M. Sumbra, M. Roccandagia), the royal eagle (Aquila chrysa?tos),
nesting in the northern sector of the cordillera (Equi-Pizzo
d'Uccello), the partridge (Alectoris rufa), the crag martin
(Hirundo rupestris), the accentor (Prunella collaris), etc..Finally,
the spectacled salamander (Salamandrina terdigitata), italian
cave salamander (Hydromanthes ambrosii) alpine newt (Triturus
alpestris apuanus) among the reptiles.
The Apuane alps have a short story as alpine gym:
only in 1863 civil engineer Giordano began their exploration.
Discovering and loving them was quite easy.
Since then, climbing on Apuane became a more and more common
sport, involving and fascinating foreign sportsmen, especially
The first hut dates back to 1902. Today, on the Apuane alps
there are nearly 750 km of paths, marked by a special committee.
There are many and well equipped alpine huts: "Carrara"
(1320 m) at Campocecina; "Capanna Garnerone" in
the valley of Vinca; "Donegani" (1250 m) at Orto
di Donna; "Citta' di Massa" at Pian della Fioba;
"Mattei" near Prati di Logarghena; "Pisa"
(950 m) in the upper Canal Regolio (Capanne di Navola);
"Aronte" the oldest and the highest of the Apuane
alps (1642 m), on mount Cavallo southward the Focolaccia
pass; "Capanne di Careggine" (840 m) in the valley
of Turrite Secca; "Pasquilio" (800 m) at the feet
of mount Carchio; "La Quiete" (950 m) in the Canale
delle Fredde (northward mount Corchia); "Pietrapiana"
(1180 m) eastward mount Corchia; "Pania" (1600
m) in the Gruppo delle Panie; "Alpe della Grotta"
(865 m) through mount Procinto; "Albergo Alto Matanna"
(1030 m) eastern side of mount Matanna; "Fornovelasco"
(480 m) at the bottom of the valley of the Turrite di Gallicano.
While climbers consider as exceptional the possibilities
offered by the Apuane alps, speleologists consider them
really unique. The "Grotta del Vento" (cave of
the Wind), near Fornovelasco, was the first to be explored.
There are nearly 200 caves in the
Apuane alps; the most important are:
"Tecchia di Equi" (mount Sagro),
(altitude 300 m, variation 4 m. lenght 31 m), is important
from a paleontological and paleoethnological point of view;
"Tanone di Torano" (mount Sagro),
(altitude 180 m, variation 30m, few hundred metres of lenght),
was one of the first to be explored and is one of the most
"Buca della Miniera Alta" (mount
Freddone), (altitude 1055 m, variation 104 m, lenght 60
"Buca del Cane del Canal delle Verghe",
near Colle di Favilla, (altitude 997 m, variation 223 m,
lenght 100 m); deep wells and sudden drops made its exploration
"Tana dell'orso selvatico", on
the north-eastern slope of mount Corchia, near Foce di Mosceta,
(altitude 1150 m, variation 318 m, lenght 1330 m), is one
of the largest and most difficult to explore;
"Abisso Enrico Revel - Vetrica",
(altitude 1543 m, variation 316 m, lenght 40 m), is the
deepest well in the world, hence extremely difficult to
"Tana che urla - Turrite di Gallicano",
(altitude 625 m, variation 45.5 m, lenght 372), was partially
explored in 1726;
"Grotta all'onda" grotto of the
wave" on the southern slope of mount Matama, (altitude
708 m, modest variation, lenght 60 m).
Situated between the Apennines and the sea, the Apuan Alps,
recognised as one of the most distinctive mountainous areas
in Italy, create a natural curve protecting the hills and
The peculiarity of this mountainous range is the variety
of the shape and form of its peaks. Here you can find endless
veins of marble, spas and mineral water springs (known for
their low salt content), streams, woods and numerous caves,
including the largest and deepest (1210 m depth) cave in
Europe called "Antro" of Mount Corchia.
An infinite number of plants and flowers are protected in
the Natural Park of the Apuan Alps, which extends to the
Provinces of Massa - Carrara and Lucca.
apuan alps altissimo mountain - click to enlarge it
Corchia e Pania mountains from Altissimo view point - click
to enlarge it
Fiocca mountain from Altissimo view point - click to enlarge
Versilia coast and Massa from Apuan Alps- click to enlarge
the Apuan Alps: Vandelli abbot, mathematician and engineer
An interesting route across the Apuan Alps is the Via Vandelli, a historic road
designed by the abbot Domenico Vandelli and built from 1738 to 1751 between Modena
and Massa. The duke of Modena, Francesco III d'Este, wanted a safe road passing
through his lands and those of the Cybo Malaspina, lords of Massa, with whom
he had formed a marriage alliance. The Passo delia Tambura (1634 m), blocked
by snow for many months of the year, was fatal for the success of the road. But,
although it was never viable as a trade route, it has now had a new lease of
life as a path for walkers. Recent restoration of the dry-stone structures means
that it can be covered, in a hard day's walk, from Resceto (on the Massa side)
to Arnetola (on the Garfagnana side).
The Via Vandelli, Unking Modena to Massa.