the southern apennine mountains of italy

The southern Apennines can be divided into four major regions: (1) Samnite Apennines, (2) Campanian Apennines, (3) Lucan Apennines and (4) Calabrian Apennines including the Sicilian Apennines.

Samnite and Campanian Apennines

In the southern Apennines, to the south of the Sangro valley, the three parallel chains are broken up into smaller groups; among them may be named the Matese, the highest point of which is the Monte Miletto . The chief rivers on the south-west are the Liri or Garigliano with its tributary the Sacco, the Volturno, Sebeto, Sarno, on the north the Trigno, Biferno and Fortore. The promontory of Monte Gargano, on the east, is completely isolated, and so are the Campanian volcanic arc near Naples. The district is traversed from north-west to south-east by the railway from Sulmona to Benevento and on to Avellino, and from south-west to northeast by the railways from Caianello via Isernia to Campobasso and Termoli, from Caserta to Benevento and Foggia, and from Nocera Inferiore and Avellino to Rocchetta S. Antonio, the junction for Foggia, Spinazzola (for Barletta, Bari, and Taranto) and Potenza. Roman roads followed the same lines as the railways: the Via Appia ran from Capua to Benevento, whence the older road went to Venosa and Taranto and so to Brindisi, while the Via Traiana ran nearly to Foggia and thence to Bari.

Lucan Apennines

The valley of the Ofanto, which runs into the Adriatic close to Barletta, marks the northern termination of the first range of the Lucanian Apennines (now Basilicata), which runs from east to west, while south of the valleys of the Sele (on the west) and Basento (on the east) which form the line followed by the railway from Battipaglia via Potenza to Metaponto—the second range begins to run due north and south as far as the plain of Sibari. The highest point is the Monte Pollino . The chief rivers are the Sele, joined by the Negro and Calore on the west, and the Bradano, Basento, Agri, Sinni on the east, which flow into the gulf of Taranto; to the south of the last-named river there are only unimportant streams flowing into the sea east and west, inasmuch as here the width of the peninsula diminishes to some .

Calabrian and Sicilian Apennines

The railway running south from Sicignano to Lagonegro, ascending the valley of the Negro, is planned to extend to Cosenza, along the line followed by the ancient Via Popilia, which beyond Cosenza reached the west coast at Terina and thence followed it to Reggio. The Via Herculia, a branch of the Via Traiana, ran from Aequum Tuticum to the ancient Nerulum. At the narrowest point the plain of Sibari, through which the rivers Coscile and Crati flow to the sea, occurs on the east coast, extending halfway across the peninsula. Here the limestone Apennines proper cease and the granite mountains of Calabria begin. The first group extends as far as the isthmus formed by the gulfs of South Eufemia and Squillace; it is known as the Sila, and the highest point reached is (the Botte Donato). The forests which covered it in ancient times supplied the Greeks and Sicilians with timber for shipbuilding. The railway from South Eufemia to Catanzaro and Catanzaro Marina crosses the isthmus, and an ancient road may have run from Squillace to Monteleone. The second group extends to the south end of the Italian Peninsula, culminating in the Aspromonte to the east of Reggio di Calabria. In both groups the rivers are quite unimportant. Finally, the Calabrian southern Appeninne Mountains extend along the northern coast of Sicily (the Sicilian Apennines, Pizzo Carbonara being the highest peak.


central apennine mountains of italy

Umbrian Apennines

A natural border exists between the Northern Apennines and the Central Apennines: a klippen zone, or band of isolated Liguride rocks, follows the Val Marecchia ("Valley of the Marecchia River") to the Marches-Tuscany border and passes through the Monti Rognosi and Arezzo in Tuscany. If extended the line would touch the northern tip of Corsica, but it is only relevant on the east slopes of the Apennines, where it is located just south of the border between Marches and Emilia-Romagna. The west border of the Umbrian-Marchean Apennines (or "Umbro-Marchean") runs through Cagli. They extend south to the Tronto River, the south border of the ONA. In the northeast of the range, the Republic of San Marino is located on the slopes of Monte Titano. The highest peak, Monte Vettore, at , is part of the Monti Sibillini, incorporated into Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini. Further inland is Parco Sasso Simone e Simoncello and further south Parco naturale regionale Gola della Rossa di Frasassi, in which are the Gola della Rossa ("Canyon of the Red") and Frasassi Caves. The Italian Park Service calls it the "green heart" of Italy. The region is heavily forested, such as the Riserva Naturale Statale Gola del Furlo, where Furlo Pass on the Via Flaminia is located. Both the Etruscans and the Romans constructed tunnels here.

The Tiber River at Rome flows from northeast to southwest, projecting into the Tyrrhenian Sea at right angles to the shore. The upper Tiber, however, flows from northwest to southeast, gradually turning through one right angle clockwise. In the north Val Tevere ("Valley of the Tiber") is a deep valley separating the Umbrian Apennines on the left bank from a lesser range, the Tuscan Anti- or Sub-Apennines on its right. They and some of Val Tevere are part of Tuscany, which formerly was enclosed by the Arno River, the Tiber River and the coast, but has lost ground around the Tiber to Lazio and Umbria. Lazio extends a little way up the Tiber. Val Tevere, however, is mainly in Umbria. In the Apennines also and on the west coast is Marches. The Val Tevere is marked on the map by Highway A1, the Autostrada del Sole, which enters it in the vicinity of Monte Rotondo north of Rome and follows the course of the river to the point where the latter flows from Lago di Cabara in the vicinity of Baschi and then goes up the valley of the Fiume Paglia.

North of the lake the course of the Fiume Tevere is marked by Highway E45 almost to where the Tevere begins at Falera on the slopes of Monte Fumaiolo. That location is in Emilia-Romagna. For that entire distance the eastern slopes of the Apennines are in Marches.Ancient Umbria included most of Marches (which did not then exist) except for the Adriatic coast and did not include Val Tevere, which belonged to Etruria all the way to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Names of regions and the geographical features associated with them; for example, "the Tuscan Hills" depend on the historical period. South of Monte Fumaiolo the Tevere enters Tuscany.

It crosses the Umbrian border in the vicinity of San Giustino and remains in it, becoming part of the border between Umbria and Lazio in the south, entering Lazio unequivocally in the vicinity of Castello delle Formiche. Over the centuries these borders have varied, mainly at the expense of Tuscany. Consequently there has been considerable imprecision in locating the Umbrian Apennines, and therefore the highest peak in them. The major difficulty is discriminating the Umbrian of the Northern Apennines from the Umbrian-Marchean of the Central Apennines. The mountains of Umbria and Marches are so wide and so tangled, rather than parallel, that the borders are difficult to place and vary according to author. Many do not make the distinction, but one is still recognized, by the Italian park service.

In general, the Umbrian Apennines are located mainly in Umbria, while the great mass of mountains in Marches are considered Central Apennine. Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary defines the Umbrian Apennines to extend from the "sources of the Tiber" to Scheggia Pass, bounded on the east by the border between Umbria and Marches, which runs along the divide. Similarly the Alto Tevere begins near the border between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. The pass is the point where the Roman Via Flaminia crosses the divide. Starting from Rimini on the Adriatic coast the old road follows the coast south to Fano, then turns inland and goes up the Fiume Metauro to Ponti di Traiano, then up the Fiume Candigliano to Acqualagna, and by the Fiume Burano to Cagli (ancient Cales). Here the Via Flaminia turns south, approximated today by highway SP3, which climbing the flanks of Monte Fiume arrives at last at the pass. This is the southernmost limit of the Umbrian Apennines, according to the dictionary. The pass goes down to Gualdo Tadino (Tadinium).

Gubbio is east of the Val Tevere. The region specified by the dictionary includes Monte Nerone, which is actually in Marches. South of the pass the same chain is in Umbria and includes a number of parklands considered by the Italians to be in the northern Apennines. The LOTO Project (Landscape Opportunities for Territorial Organization), a recent pilot study for regional landscape planning undertaken by the European Institute of Cultural Routes, an agency of the European Union, simply calls it "the Apennine Ridge" of "the Umbria Region," which it locates in "the central and northern mountains of the Apennines." The western part of this range is considered by some to be the Umbrian Apennines; it includes Parco del Monte Cucco, , which includes the pass, the road and the Umbrian side of the ridge south to Fossato di Vico. Further south are Parco del Monte Subasio around Assisi and Parco di Colfiorito on the border with Marches.

Abruzzi Apennines

The Abruzzi Apennines, located in Abruzzo, Molise (formerly part of Abruzzo) and southeastern Lazio, contain the highest peaks and most rugged terrain of the Apennines. They are known in history as the territory of the Italic peoples first defeated by the city of Rome. Coincidentally they exist in three parallel folds or chains surviving from the orogeny. These extend in a northwest-southeast direction from the River Tronto to the River Sangro, which drain into the Adriatic. The coastal hills of the east extend between San Benedetto del Tronto in the north and Torino di Sangro in the south.

The eastern chain consists mainly of the southern part of the Monti Sibillini, the Monti della Laga, the Gran Sasso d'Italia Massif and the Majella Massif. Among them are two national parks: Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park and Majella National Park; and the Regional Park of the Monti Simbruini. Gran Sasso contains Corno Grande, the highest peak of the Apennines. Other features between the western and central ranges are the plain of Rieti, the valley of the Salto, and the Lago Fucino; while between the central and eastern ranges are the valleys of Aquila and Sulmona.

The chief rivers on the west are the Nera, with its tributaries the Velino and Salto, and the Aniene, both of which fall into the Tiber. On the east there is at first a succession of small rivers which flow into the Adriatic, from which the highest points of the chain are some 20 km distant, such as the Potenza, Chienti, Tenna, Tronto, Tordino, Vomano and others. The Pescara, which receives the Aterno from the north-west and the Gizio from the south-east, is more important; and so is the Sangro.

The central Apennines are crossed by the railway from Rome to Pescara via Avezzano and Sulmona: the railway from Orte to Terni (and thence to Foligno) follows the Nera valley; while from Terni a line ascends to the plain of Rieti, and thence crosses the central chain to Aquila, whence it follows the valley of the Aterno to Sulmona. In ancient times the Via Salaria, Via Caecilia and Via Valeria-Claudia all ran from Rome to the Adriatic coast. The volcanic mountains of the province of Rome are separated from the Apennines by the Tiber valley, and the Monti Lepini, part of the Volscian chain, by the valleys of the Sacco and Liri.

guide to the apennine mountains of italy


The Apennines are the long system of mountains and hills that run down the Italian peninsula from the Cadibona Pass to the tip of the Calabria Region and continue on the island of Sicily. The range is about 1,245 miles (2,000 km) long; it is only about 20 miles (32 km) wide at either end but about 120 miles (190 km) wide in the Central Apennines, east of Rome, where the “Great Rock of Italy” (Gran Sasso d’Italia) provides the highest Apennine peak (9,554 ft [2,912 m]) and the only glacier on the peninsula, Calderone, the southernmost in Europe.

The system forms an arc enclosing the east side of the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas. They are mostly verdant, although one side of the highest peak, Corno Grande is partially covered by Calderone glacier, the only glacier in the Apennines. It has been receding since 1794. The southern mountains are semi-arid. The eastern slopes down to the Adriatic Sea are steep, while the western slopes form foothills on which most of peninsular Italy's cities are located. The mountains tend to be named from the province or provinces in which they are located; for example, the Ligurian Apennines are in Liguria. As the provincial borders have not always been stable, this practice has resulted in some confusion about exactly where the montane borders are. Often but not always a geographical feature can be found that lends itself to being a border.

The Apennine mountains comprise predominantly sandstone and limestone marl (clay) in the north; limestone and dolomite (magnesium limestone) in the centre; and limestone, weathered rock, and Hercynian granite in the south. On either side of the central mass are grouped two considerably lower masses, composed in general of more recent and softer rocks, such as sandstone. These sub-Apennines run in the east from Monferrato to the Gulf of Taranto and in the west from Florence southward through Tuscany and Umbria to Rome.

The Monferrato range is separated from the main Apennines by the valleys of the Arno and the Tiber rivers. At the outer flanks of the sub-Apennines, two allied series of limestone and volcanic rocks extend to the coast. They include, to the west, the Apuane Alps, which are famous for their marbles; farther south, the Metallifere Mountains (more than 3,380 ft [1,030 m]), abundant in minerals; then various extinct volcanoes occupied by crater lakes, such as that of Bolsena; then cavernous mountains, such as Lepini and Circeo, and the partially or still fully active volcanic group of the Flegrei Plain and Vesuvius; and finally the limestone mountains of the peninsulas of Amalfi and Cilento. The extensions on the Adriatic coast are simpler, comprising only the small promontory of Mount Conero, the higher peninsula of Gargano (3,465 ft [1,056 m]), and the Salentina Peninsula in Puglia. All these are limestone.

The Apennines are divided into three sectors: northern, central, and southern. A number of long hiking trails wind through the Apennines. Of note is European walking route E1 coming from northern Europe and traversing the lengths of the northern and central Apennines. The Grand Italian Trail begins in Trieste and after winding through the Alpine arc traverses the entire Apennine system, Sicily and Sardinia.

the northern apennine mountains of italy

The Ligurian Apennines

The Ligurian Apennines border the Ligurian Sea in the Gulf of Genoa, from about Savona below the upper Bormida River valley to about La Spezia (La Cisa pass) below the upper Magra River valley. The range follows the Gulf of Genoa separating it from the upper Po Valley. The northwestern border follows the line of the Bormida River to Acqui Terme. There the river continues northeast to Alessandria in the Po Valley, but the mountains bend away to the southeast.

The upper Bormida can be reached by a number of roads proceeding inland at a right angle to the coast southwest of Savona, the chief one being the Autostrada Torino-Savona. They ascend to the Bocchetta di Altare, sometimes called Colle di Cadibona, , the border between the Ligurian Alps along the coast to the west and the Ligurian Apennines. A bronze plaque fixed to a stone marks the top of the pass. In the vicinity are fragments of the old road and three ruins of former fortifications.

At Carcare, the main roads connect with the upper Bormida valley (Bormida di Millare) before turning west. The Scrivia, the Trebbia the Taro and the Tanaro (Tanarus), tributaries of the Po River, drain the northeast slopes. The range contains dozens of peaks. Toward the southern end the Aveto Natural Regional Park includes Monte Penna. Nearby is the highest point of Ligurian Apennines, Monte Maggiorasca.

The main overland route connecting the coastal plain of Liguria to the north Italian plain runs through Bocchetta di Altare. It has always been of strategic importance. Defenders of north Italy have had to control it since ancient times, as the various fortifications placed there testify. Currently however, Trenitalia, the state railway system, highly developed on the coastal plain, traverses the mountains routinely through a number of railway tunnels, such as the one at Giovi Pass.

The southeastern border of the Ligurian Apennines is the Fiume Magra, which projects into the Tyrrhenian Sea south of La Spezia, and the Fiume Taro, which runs in the opposite direction to join the Po River. The divide between the two upper river valleys is the Passo della Cisa. Under it (two tunnels) runs the Autostrada della Cisa between Spezia and Parma.

Tuscan Apennines

Starting at Cisa Pass, the mountain chains turn further to the southeast to cross the peninsula along the border between the Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany regions. They are also named the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines west of the Futa pass and the Tuscan-Romagnol Apennines east of it, or just the Tuscan Apennines. They extend to the upper Tiber River. The high point is Monte Cimone.

A separate branch, the Apuan Alps, goes to the southwest bordering the coast south of La Spezia. Whether they are to be considered part of the Apennines is a matter of opinion; certainly, they are part of the Apennine System. Topographically only the valley of the River Serchio, which running parallel to the coast turns and exits into the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Pisa, separates the Apuan Alps from the Apennines; geologically the rock is of a slightly different composition: marble. The Roman marble industry was centered at Luna, and is now active in Carrara.

As the Tuscan Apennines divide the peninsula between the Po Valley and the plains and hills of Tuscany and Lazio, transportation over them is essential to political and economic unity. Historically the Romans used the Via Flaminia between Rome and Rimini. The mountain distance between Florence in Tuscany and Bologna in Emilia-Romagna is shorter, but exploitation of it required the conquest of more rugged terrain, which was not feasible for the ancients. Railway lines were constructed over the mountains in the early 19th century but they were of low capacity and unimprovable. Since 1856 a series of tunnels have been constructed to conduct "the Bologna-Florence rail line", which is neither a single line nor a single tunnel. The Porrettana Line went into service in 1864, the Direttissima in 1934 and the High Speed in 1996. A few dozen tunnels support the three of them, the longest on the High-Speed Line being the Voglia Tunnel. The longest is on the Direttissima, the Great Apennine Tunnel, which at is the longest entirely within Italy, although the Simplon Tunnel, which connects Italy and Switzerland, is longer. Claims of being the longest or second-longest in the world have been outdated.  Currently automobile traffic is carried by the Autostrada del Sole, Route A1, which goes through numerous shorter tunnels, bypassing an old road, originally Roman, through Futa Pass. The southernmost limit of the Tuscan-Romagnol Apennines is approximately Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna National Park. The three-way intersection of the borders between Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Marches is on the south slopes of Monte Fumaiolo, from which the Tiber River originates. Monte Fumaiolo is the furthest south mountain of Emilia-Romagna.

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