Beaches In Italy

BEACHES IN ITALYLampedusa Spiaggia dei Conigli

Italy is a peninsula surrounded by the mountains and the sea. The Adriatic east coast in the east, Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, the Lake District in the north and the southern islands of Sardinia and Sicily all equally offer some of the most fantastic beaches in the world. With over 5000 miles of coastlines, dry and hot summers and sunshine most of the year, Italy is one of Europe’s favourite beach holiday destinations. Summers are filled with a temperate climate and blessed with the cool breeze of the sea, enough to attract many to build homes and gardens right by the beaches. Whether you’re looking for the perfect beach or perhaps a way to cool down after exploring ancient cities, the warm waters, eternal sunshine and sandy stretches of Italy’s beaches are a must for all travellers.

To fully enjoy the atmosphere and tempo of the Italian culture, you need to be sure to include time to visit a beach or two during your travel. There are several wonderful beach areas to enjoy and with the increase in environmental protection many of the Italian beaches are awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness by the European Union. There are places to go and places to avoid. We have listed some of our favorite.

The key things to keep in mind

  • Use plenty of sunscreen
  • Most areas require you to pay for use of the chairs and umbrella. Cost will vary, and there is a trend to pay more if you are a tourist. All transactions should be done with receipt and the price should be posted at the entrance.
  • You can sit for free on the area that is considered the tide zone. A normal rule is about 5 meters from the water.

Other than the islands of Greece and the South of France, beaches in Italy draw more people per year than any other country in Europe. The hardest part is deciding which of the Italian beaches to visit, as each one has a storied history and separate features.

The Mediterranean hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Italy's beach resorts attract more and more tourists year after year, for it is said the Italian beaches are like treasures to discover and behold. The beach resorts were home to many tourists during the summer season, today many now claim this their year round home. The wonders of sea air provide some of the healthiest fresh air, known for their regenerative properties; the sea air is a relief and a healthy escape from city life.

Italy is a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia. Its 7,600 km of coastline has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, the Ligurian Sea, the Sardinian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the west the Sicilian Sea, and the Ionian Sea in the south and the Adriatic Sea in the east. After exploring the cities, touring the lakes and walking in the mountains, the beaches are the perfect place to relax, unwind and reflect. Most of the year the beaches are sunny, and with 7,600 miles of shoreline bordering Italy and its islands, you can easily find waters where the temperatures are ideal for swimming. Miles upon miles of golden, sun drenched sand, in some places up to 1 km deep.  The sea welcomes the sun seeker in comfort and style. An array of colours, which one can quickly identify by the rows of neatly laid out sun umbrellas and deck chairs, which seem to almost dot the entire seashore.

The world famous Amalfi coast has many of the best beaches in Italy - you can throw a dart at a map and never go wrong. The sleepy villages along the coast lie on wicked curves, and its villas have acted as getaways for celebrities both new and old. Palm trees and expensive boutiques line the narrow streets leading to the pebbled shores of the Italian beach resort of San Remo. Here you can also try your luck at the luxuriant casinos and racetracks, the gambling mecca for western Italy. The lemon trees and fragrant flowers of the Isle of Capri provide a picturesque backdrop for its sprawling beaches. The statuesque arcs of the Tyrrhenian Sea guarantee that the resorts along its coastline are among the best beaches in Italy - the sights of the translucent blue and green grottoes more than make up for the lack of sand found here.

Sorrento was the home of the Greek sirens and the docks and cliffs of this town still call out to passing travelers. Connoisseurs of Italian beaches may shun this town, which is mostly made up of jagged rocks and crowded piers, but the combination of sunny locale and a wide array of shopping and nightlife make this one of the most popular destinations south of Naples.

Cinque Terre is another fine Italian beach resort, where a small, but hospitable strip of sand lays unassuming in the midst of the five fishing towns. Popular with American and European honeymooners alike, this quiet spot on the banks of the Italian Riviera is just steps away from scenic hikes, and exquisite seafood dishes constructed around the fishermen's daily catch. The only traditional beach in any of the five towns is located in Monterosso, but it is still one of the best beaches in Italy.

The white sands of the Venetian beach of Lido make it one of the most tempting beaches of Italy, even if the water lapping at your feet is not fit for swimming. Deluxe hotels offer endless privacy in one of the most romantic cities in the world, and waterfront huts are available for rental if your wallet feels too full. Another popular Italian beach resort is located in the antiquated Greek ruins of Syracuse. Fontane Bianche is a prime spot for cooling off in the summer, popular with both vacationing Italians and tourists. Nearby Taormina offers equally fine displays of sand and shade beneath the imposing shadow of Mt. Etna. When it comes to Sicily, though, any number of them rival the Italian beaches located on the mainland

Carso (Karst) | Friuli Venezia Region

CARSO (KARST) | FRIULI VENEZIA REGION

Friuli Venezia Region

Riding or hiking near Redipuglia on the way or leaving Trieste, where the highlands bends to the right away from the sea, the landscape changes dramatically: it gives the impression that a huge limestone rock, the Karst, had fallen out of the sky and embedded itself on the extreme edge of the Julian plain. Today, the Karst, which is a precious as it is vulnerable to degradation and unauthorised building, is partially protected by the setting up to five regional nature reserves which are representative of the whole area. These reserves were formally established by a Regional law on protected areas, issued in 196, in the light of a future “Karst national park”, which is to encourage and to promote this complex and fascinating ecosystem.

The Regional natural reserves of Mount Lanaro and Mount Orsario

The reserves of Mount Lanaro and Mount Orsario, which are part of the municipalities ofSgonico (Zgonic) and Monrupino (Repentabor), exemplify the main characteristics and the history of the whole Karst plateau. The main characteristic of Mount Lanaro is its woodland, ranging from the hornbeam, which is hardly present in the deeperdolinas, to the solemn turkey oaks and durmasts, which provide a rare example of what the Karst may have looked like before the Neolithic age, when the mild climate encouraged the first humans to settle in the area. The end of nomadic life marked an important step for the evolution of the natural landscape. Initially, man cleared parts of the Karst woodland to provide land for agriculture and grazing land for sheep rearing. This caused the woodland to be fragmented, eroded by polluting agents, more and more impoverished and finally replaced by moorland, providing a semi-natural habitat rich in, often very rare, wild life.

In fact, these deforested areas started to host meadow species mainly originating from the oriental steppes, which soon adapted to being eaten and trampled on by grazing animals. It was a centuries old process of contemporary evolution and speciation, where man has played, and could still play, a determining role. However, the oak woodland dominated for centuries until sheep rearing and coal mining during the Middle Ages sped up the deforestation process, leaving a completely barren, Bora-wind-swept moorland by the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The huge reforestation process lead by the Hapsburg Empire over the last two centuries with the reintroduction of the Austrian pine as well as the abandonment of traditional rural activities due to the economic boom have marked a dramatic turnaround. Deprived of man’s interference, nature has activated its own imposing natural process towards woodland reforestation.

Today, the Karst is dominated by lush woodland made of hornbeam and sessile oak, interspersed with small portions of moorland which is becoming increasingly more overgrown with smoke-bush and juniper. This is a huge loss if we consider that this habitat is an excellent example of biodiversity. Mount Orsario still has areas of moorland which is tinged with multicoloured flowers at the beginning of spring or during late autumn. During summer, it emanates the typical scent of aromatic plants such as savory (Satureja subspicata liburnica), which is endemic to the western border of this area.

Besides the woodland and the moorland, the typical architecture blends harmoniously with the natural landscape thus turning it into an intimately complex, even secretive ensemble, just like the Karst houses and the dry-stone walls, which have been built with ancient stones and delimit roads and estates.

The regional natural reserve of the Duino cliffs

As part of the municipality of Duino Aurisina (Devin-Nabrez?ina), this reserve includes an area of high coastland made of fossil limestone and is the only example in the whole of the Northern Adriatic coast. Its calcareous walls interrupted by turrets and short strips of low bushes of aromatic plants “macereti” are a sheer drop from the cliff to the sea. Their height, together with the thermal-reflective characteristic of the sea and the fact that they are not affected by the “bora” wind, make these cliffs a valuable refuge for the Mediterranean vegetation and a testimony of the xerothermic age (2500-800 BC) when man, on the nearby mainland, started to manufacture metals.

Walking along the “Rilke route”, the only path across the reserve which winds its way along the cliff, one can notice how the deciduous plants gradually give way to the sclerophillous species. Some Mediterranean species such as the holm-oak blend with Illyrian species such as the manna ash and the hornbeam. These plants can be found in Greece as up to the Leme Canal, in Istria, and again along the Triestine coast.

These cliffs house many rare flora species such as the kartschiana Centaurea which is endemic to the sea cliffs and is exclusive to this area. The hot, dry rocky landscape is the ideal habitat for reptiles as well as the most suitable nesting place for the peregrine.

Together with the naturalistic and landscape peculiarities of this area we should not forget the coast of Duino and Mount Hermada, which protected the Austrian troops during World War I. The panoramic outposts along the Rilke path provided fortifications from which an eventual landing of Italian troops in the Sistiana bay could have been signalled.

Chianti Hills | Tuscany Region

CHIANTI HILLS | TUSCANY REGION

chianti hills tuscany

The Chianti territory with its hilly countryside of incomparable beauty lies in the very heart of Tuscany. Administered by both the Provinces of Florence and Siena, during the Middle Ages it was harshly contested by these two rival cities until 1555 when the Medici’s imposed their hegemony on all of Tuscany. It is difficult to trace its borders since only the mountains of Chianti in the East separate it from Upper Valdarno in a natural and neat way; the remaining territory fades into the hills of the Arbia, Elsa, Greve and Pesa rivers.

Mediaeval villages, castles, churches, abbeys, monasteries, cottages and villas lie one after the other in a fantastic itinerary that exalts the activity and inventiveness of man; centuries of work have modelled the hills of this region and the alternation of the olive groves and the forests creates a harmony unique to the world.

Along Via Cassia, or alternatively the faster Florence-Siena superstrada, one can follow again the paths once taken by pilgrims and wayfarers who, during the Middle Ages, reached Rome from Northern Europe with everything that it had to bear: parìsh churches, small towns, hospices, abbeys. Via Chiantigiana, on the other hand, is a more rural path that throughout its length crosses the classic wine region.

In any case, the visitor will be offered an unforgettable countryside always varying and harmonious and so diverse in colours and in atmosphere with the changing seasons. There are many ways to get to one of the parish churches, castles or isolated towns, silent witnesses to the historical and artistic richness of the Chianti region.

It does not matter how one gets there: whether by car, motorcycle, bicycle or bus, there are many possibilities for staying and enjoying a few days' holiday in the relaxing atmosphere of Chianti, tasting the gastronomic specialties of the region accompanied by wines that have made Chianti famous all over the world.

EXPLORING ALONG THE VIA CASSIA

Today's Via Cassia does not correspond, in the Tuscan section, to the ancient Roman road and not even to Via Francigena, the mediaeval trail that ran along the Valdelsa valley. It was however an important main road that the pilgrims and merchants took to get to Via Francigena at Poggibonsi. Since the XV century it was called "strada regia romana" and represented the main road between Florence and Rome until the construction of the Autosole motorway.

Since Via Cassia passes through many urban centres and is at times rather congested with traffic, the hurried tourist may choose to take the Florence Siena Autostrada that can be left whenever one wishes to visit one of the proposed locations.

Before reaching Via Cassia, Galluzzo's Certosa is worth a visit. It rises on the hills of Montaguto to the south of Florence. It was founded by Niccolò Acciaiuoli in the XIVcentury, for the purpose of housing young Florentines who wished to learn the liberal arts. It is surrounded by high walls, which, together with the majestic Palazzo degli Studi bestow upon it the aspect of a fortress.
 
Preserved inside Certosa, now inhabited by a group of Benedictine Cistercian monks, are some important works of art, among them there are 5 lunettoni (crescent shaped paintings), frescoes of scenes of the Passion by Pontormo painted between 1523 and 1525 during his permanence there while escaping the plague that had hit Florence.

Coastal Wet-lands of Friuli Venezia Region

COASTAL WET LANDS OF THE FRIULI VENEZIA REGION

trieste-coast

For those riding near the small town of Marano lagunare, only a few minutes from the San Giorgio di Nogaro exit. For those who have more time available, it is worth taking a boat trip, which offers a splendid view of the huge lagoon, and in particular of the Regional river Stella mouth Nature Reserve which covers about 1,400 hectares. This important area has long been declared a “wetland of international importance” by the Ramsar convention, due, in particular, to the high concentration of migrant water birds that congregate there.

The main vegetation is characterised by huge reedbeds, interspersed with small lakes and inlets. At the mouth of the river, the thickets are only reeds (Phragmites australis), downstream they gradually give way to sea bulrushes and sandbanks which form muddy islands carpeted by halophylic (salt-tolerant) vegetation growing abundantly where there is a higher concentration of salt.

The small town of Marano hosts the regional Nature Reserve of Valle Canal Novo. It includes a visitors’ centre and provides visitors with information on the naturalistic aspects of the 140-hectare area, providing some tours, and even walkways on the water such as, for instance, the typical Caminadasu l’acqua: observers are lead to typical hides made of reeds from which the landscape and bird-life can be viewed. To the extreme east of the Marano and Grado lagoon is the regional Nature Reserve of Valle Cavanata (330 hectares): an additional wetland recognized by the Ramsar convention of international importance, which has been blocked off from the sea and turned into a lagoon in the past.

The whole lagoon is well visible from the state road linking Monfalcone to Grado. For many years it has housed many gulls, cormorants, mute swans and other waterbirds. The halophylic vegetation predominates and includes many strangely named species such as sea-lavender (Limonium vulgare) or the pickleweed which are the most common plants in this area. The year 1997 is a memorable year since two couples of spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), a very rare species, nested for the first time next to a colony of re-introduced Graylag goose.
Slightly further eastwards, the Regional Nature Reserve on the mouth of the Isonzo river can be reached from the state road linking Grado to Monfalcone. The Isonzo river sources in the Julian Alps in Slovenia, and is about 140 kilometres long.

This is the most northerly area of the Mediterranean Sea, and the high rocky coasts, typical of the eastern Adriatic sea, end at Duino. They are replaced by low coasts and lagoons, which include Venice, and stretch down to the delta of the Po river, to the south-west, and form one of the most complex and important wetlands in the world. The Nature Reserve is located in an area with unique biological, geographic and historical characteristics. The protected area covers 2,350 hectares and has its core in the so-called “Isola della Cona”, which belongs to the municipality of Staranzano. The Reserve also includes some smaller territories located in other municipalities such as Grado, with its Caneo wetland and with a huge part of the estuary ridge; San Canzian d’Isonzo, with the so-called “Bosc Grand” wetland along the right side of the river, which is effectively less than one hectare wide; and finally, Fiumicello with its river beds of gravel and riverine woodland.

Legends and recent history

The legend narrated by the geographer Strabo says that many years before Christ, the Thracian, Diomede, had reared herds of white horses in honour of the goddess Diana (Arthemis) right in this area. For this reason the huge oak woodland carpeting the eastern bank of the Isonzo river was named Silva Diomedaea by the Romans. The once splendid woodland is now confined to the Isonzo river and in the Alberoni area. At that time the woodland served as a backdrop to the estuary of the mysterious Timavo river, the “shortest river in Italy” and the so-called “mother of sea”.
This river, which even today is still mysterious and mainly unexplored, runs underground for 40 kilometres and re-emerges just a rifle’s shot away from the Adriatic Sea, near the Duino castle, at the foot of the Karst area.

Slightly to the west of Isonzo river’s current position, the frightening, dark woodland Silva lupanica extended for kilometres as a natural barrier. It carpeted the whole of the low plains and acted as a border just behind Aquileia: the important city founded by the Romans in 171 BC.

Thanks to the road network “unwisely” built by the Romans, it was easier for Attila and his Huns to invade Italy: The barbarians conquered Aquileia in 452 AC after a long siege. As reported in Paolo Diacono’s Historia langobardorum, such invasion caused many pairs of storks to leave the area. A dramatic event which takes us back to the origin of Venice, when the Aquileia inhabitants took refuge first in Grado and later further to the West in the lagoon where they would set up a new, more protected city surrounded by insidious marshes and deep canals: Venice.
The areas around the Friuli-Venezia Giulia lagoon and more specifically, along the Isonzo river are acknowledged as steeped in European history. However, they have undergone a heavy development and significant environmental changes in more recent times. In fact, the area along the Isonzo river was progressively deforested and drained to be replaced by cultivated land as well as tourist resorts and new industrial sites. Grado itself, alas, is no longer an island due to tourist development. Hence, the strong necessity to preserve and, where possible, reintroduce at least some of the fauna and flora which have characterized this area for many centuries. For instance the storks, or the rare, white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaetus albicilla) after which the first Roman colony was probably named. A complex plan of refurbishment and, where possible, of restoration of degraded or reduced habitats is needed in order to reduce the continuous and progressive wetland degradation, in particular along the coasts.

A restoration plan

The estuary of the Isonzo river is still today one of the most important natural areas for its shallow waters, mudflats, wetlands as well as woodland and occasional springs. The so-called “Isola della Cona” is today linked to the mainland by a dam allowing easy access, but which also prevents freshwater from entering the Quarantia canal. All the springs in this area have been diverted and channelled into the new artificial Brancolo canal, causing the freshwater habitats to loose their original characteristics.

For this reason, based on a restoration project dating back to 1983, the wetland has been progressively re-designed and reintroduced on a fifty-hectare area. This project, mainly financed by the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region and by the European Union, includes the construction of a visitors’ centre to encourage eco-tourism and bird watching activities. Besides the shallow water areas, where frogs and amphibions live abundantly, also some islands, woodland, pools, canals, reedbeds and flooded meadows have been restored or newly created.

Fauna and Flora

Thanks to the recovery of degradated habitats, the many diversities in flora and fauna have widely increased. The most predominant are the bird-species which amount to over 300 species, of which at least 80 have also bred.

The most significant fauna species include, for instance, the black-winged stilt, which was nearly extinct in the past, the great bittern, the purple heron and the marsh-harrier which live in the dense reedbeds.

Thanks to the decrease of disturbance and habitat improvement thousands of ducks (up to 30,000 specimens) rest there during winter. This solution has had results beyond all expectations, considering the fact that this project had been criticised for being inadequate and restricted to too small an area for so many species. In other seasons there are great white and little egrets as well as the large, elegant spoonbill, which was considered to be nearly extinct as it requires highly specialized environmental conditions.

We should not forget the many water species living on the mudflats which emerge from water during low-tide, as for example the curlew, an elegant, mimical species with a long, curved beak, which has been adopted as the symbol of the Reserve; the noisy graylag geese, reintroduced with success, as well as thousands of white fronted goose from Siberia migrating to and from Africa. To re-establish such a complex eco-system, two groups of horses have been reintroduced to the area: one left free to graze in the pasture, allowing for a more uniform growth of the wetland vegetation; the other of trained ones used for the guided tours across the reserve. Both groups are Carmargue, an ancient, rustic breed which is used to the wetland habitat. Besides these horses, whose white mane recalls that of Diomede’s legendary horse, some cattle are periodically introduced into this area so as to re-establish the original balance between fauna and flora and the ancient migrations of the big grazing mammals. Even some amphibians such as the agile frog and the Italian tree frog have benefited from this improved habitat.

Sustainable tourism, environmental education, research

The Cona is well-known for its hides and screened footpaths, specially designed as observation points which do not disturb the wild fauna. The Marinetta observatory is undoubtedly the most interesting building after the visitors’ centre, which was inaugurated in 2002, and the “Museum of the Ducks”. It is entirely thathched with reeds, and is three storeys high. It overlooks the re-established wetland. It allows the noisy groups of visitors to enjoy an exceptional view of under water life and the Gulf of Trieste. The view reaches as far as Istria, the Karst and the Julian Alps; birds of prey are frequently seen swooping to capture one of the thousands birds in the area or plunging spectacularly into water.

Future prospects

The philosophy behind the projects carried out along the coast or in the lagoon aim at concentrating visitors in specifically designed areas so as to keep the more delicate and fragile territories as secluded as possible. This extremely effective solution has preserved the protected areas, and in some cases has also extended the territory as well as creating many new jobs related to sustainable tourism. In order to enhance the results reached so far, a biological station has been created in the Reserve with the aim of providing the guidelines for the managment and monitoring of the whole coastal and lagoon areas of the Region.

Colline Metallifere | Tuscany Region

COLLINE METALLIFERE | TUSCANY REGION

colline metalifere

The Colline Metallifere (Metal-bearing Hills) are a mountain-hill group in the Tuscan Antiapennine, in central Italy. The range runs through four provinces: the southeast part of Livorno, the southern part of Pisa, the southwestern part of Siena and the northwestern part of Grosseto. Excluding the Poggio di Montieri and Cornate di Gerfalco peaks (both over 1,000 m), the majority of the range is hilly and rich in various local minerals. The area between Pisa and Grosseto is noted for its geothermal energy which manifests in sulfur geysers.

It also includes geothermic energy sources, part of which used in ENEL power plants at Larderello and Lago Boracifero. Rivers include the Cecina, the Cornia and the Merse. The metal resources of the Colline Metallifere were exploited since ancient times by the Etruscans: production reached its peak in the mid-19th century, declining quickly however afterwards. The numerous railways serving the mills are now mostly suppressed.

The area includes various cities and towns: Sassetta, Campiglia Marittima and Suvereto in the Livorno province, Monteverdi Marittimo, Pomarance and Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina in the Pisa province, Radicondoli and Chiusdino in the Siena province, Monterotondo Marittimo, Montieri, Roccastrada, Massa Marittima, Gavorrano, Scarlino and the northern part of Castiglione della Pescaia in the Grosseto province.

During Etruscan times, the Metallifere hills were known for their mineral outcrops; extraction continued for centuries and reached its peak in the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries before it began to rapidly decline. In order to service the mineral mining, a railroad route was built. It is now almost completely defunct.

Doberdo and Pietrossa Lakes Friuli Venezia Region

DODERDO LAKE | ITALY

lake

The wetland is an exceptional landscape which stands out against the varied, mainly arid, Karst landscape and also offers other different habitats. This reserve is located in the municipalities of Monfalcone, Ronchi dei Legionari and Doberdò del Lago (Doberdob) where a visitors’ centre provides information and educational information about the area. The “Conver” visitors’ centre, not far from the Pietrarossa lake, will soon be inaugurated. It will host many projects aimed at restoring the barren Karst land and reintroducing the local Karst sheep.

The whole reserve can be explored by taking the many trekking itineraries leading to panoramic observation points or, military tracks leading to the remains of old trenches.

Lake Doberdò and the Lake Circonio (Cerknica, Slovenia) are rare examples of Karst lakes in Europe. Lake Doberdò is in a hollow created by the lowering of Karst highlands and is fed by an underground network formed by the Isonzo and Vipacco rivers. When the level of these rivers decreases, the water of the lake runs out throughswallowholes, sometimes creating a network of very strong currents.

The resulting wetland is basically an almost completely filled-in marsh, where different species of vegetation are arranged in seemingly concentric rings, each corresponding to the varying depth of the water. They range from the snowdrop related sedges (Leucojum Aestivum), and their impressive flowers, the Phragmites Australis bulrushes and further out, to the aquatic plants such as the water lily. 

The fauna also includes the olm (Proteus Anguinus) an eel-like salamander which is endemic to this area.

Particularly interesting is the small Pietrarossa Lake, which is completely immersed in riparian vegetation and surrounded by grey willows which grow densely along the shores: an important refuge for many water birds which seem to live undisturbed and effectively protected by the thick vegetation, and totally unaffected by the noise from the nearby highway.

Dolomites of the Friuli Venezia

DOLOMITES OF THE FRIULI VENEZIA REGION

Friuli Venezia Dolomites

The natural Park of the Friuli Dolomites which covers an area of 37,000 hectares incorporates one of the most beautiful areas of the region. It includes the municipalities of Andreis, Cimolais,Claut, Erto, Casso, Frisanco and Tramonti di Sopra which are part of the province of Pordenone; and Forni di Sopra and Forni di Sotto which are both in Udine.

The main area of the Park, which in the past was not easily accessible due to its complex mountain network, has been preserved thanks to limited intrusion by humans. Its habitat and its spectacular landscape offer a high degree of wilderness, which makes this area a paradise for excursions, trekking and mountain climbing.

Many itineraries have been carefully modified and provided with accommodation facilities. They are spread over a territory of great geological interest, probably the most complex territory of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Due to erosions caused by pollution, the rocks of the Dolomites have been re-modelled into different, spectacular shapes whose range of colours modifies according to the different light.

The “bell-tower” of Val Montanaia is the symbol of the Monfalconi area, which is part of a typical dolomite landscape. It is an imposing rocky tower which was climbed for the first time in 1902 by the two Austrian alpinists, Saar and Glanvell.

An easy route made by the Alpine troops at the beginning of the 1900s, leads you up to the Casera Casamento, where dinosaur footprints have been recently discovered embedded in the rocks. This discovery is of great interest.   

The footprints belonged to a two-footed animal with three digits on each foot, which probably lived in the Triassic era 215 million years ago, when the area was covered by vast mud flats.
An easy panoramic route from Costa to Casso, also known as the ancient “coal road” (Trui dalSciarbon), leads you to theZemola Valley, which is important from natural, historical and ethnographical viewpoints. Its pleasant landscape blends with the ancient and severe architecture of Erto and Casso, unfortunately, the images evoked by the tragic dam-burst and flooding of the Vajont valley inevitably dims the charm of this place.

At the end of 1600, the road was used by women who carried heavy panniers of coal on their shoulders. The coal was produced in the coal mines (poiàt) and transported down to Longarone. From there, it was loaded on to rafts which transited along the Piave river to Venice. This exhausting activity took place until the fifties but only in the last years was a cable car used to transport the coal down to the Piave valley.

It is easy to see many wild animals along the route from the Settimana to the Cimoliana valleys leading to the park or while stopping at the many, recently refurbished refuges. The patient and careful watcher is rewarded by the unforgettable sight of bucks, deer, chamois, and, higher up, of rock goats and marmots which often peep out from the vegetation and the rocks of their habitat. More easily discernible is the silent but spectacular flora of the Park. Its important species are surely one of the reasons why this territory has become a protected area. The following endemic species such as the sandwort (Arenaria huteri), the Daphne blagayana, a species of Thymelaeacea, the Froelich gentian (Gentiana froelich), the Primula tyrolensis and the Primula Wulfeniana are but some of the many valuable species of plants growing in the area. We should not forget more common species such as the splendid lady’s slipper (Cypripedium calceolus), a kind of orchid which blossoms profusely at the beginning of summer. Besides the flora and the fauna, the park also offers some fresh springs which turn into streams and small torrents and break into the silent woodland, remodelling its landscape and its rocks.

Some promotional projects for the Natural Park of the Friuli Dolomites have been set up particularly in schools. Over the last years, many students from all over the region and surrounding areas, have learned more about this naturalistic area thanks to the guided tours which take place throughout the year and are available to everyone. This is an interesting way of learning how the environment mutates in the different seasons. To help the visitor appreciate and enjoy the nature reserve, six visitors’ centres have been set up in the territory, some of which are open all year round, others by appointment only and only during high season (summer time). They all give additional information about the protected area.

The visitors’ centre at Cimolais is an important point of reference for tourists who wish to have information about the many excursions around the Park, which are ideal for those visitors venturing into the Natural Park for the first time. In particular, there is an educational tour which offers additional information about the fauna, flora, rock formations and vegetation. A brief interlude to familiarize the visitor with the surrounding, natural environment. The visitors’ centre at Erto is entirely dedicated to the floods which happened after the Vajont dam burst in 1963. The area is divided into two sections, one of which hosts an exhibition of old photographs which take us back over the centuries, to discover the traditions and habits of the Vajont inhabitants prior to the tragic event of 9 October 1963 and then to that fatal night, when a huge rockslide from mount Toc fell into the artificial lake, causing the dam to collapse and the death of 2,000 people. The other section gives a detailed analysis of the whole event, starting from the hydroelectric project of the Vajont right up to the court hearing following the tragedy. The story is narrated on descriptive panels; it is also possible to consult technical charts and examine and compare the plastic models of the area. The multimedia room offers a cd-rom which makes it possible to have a more general view of the catastrophe through the computerized reconstruction of the rockslide and original films dating back to that period.

The area of Andreis hosts a bird-life sanctuary, which was set up by an association for the care of wounded birds in cooperation with the local vet association. The area consists of a research centre, a study area, and a network of aviaries. The most interesting part is surely the aviaries, which can be found to the north of Andreis. They host different species of birds such as hawks, kestrels, buzzards, tawny owls, sparrow hawks, one goshawk and one golden eagle. Some of these birds have been so badly injured that will have to remain in captivity; others are freed once they are fully recovered. During convalescence, they are kept in special cages which are kitted out with rehabilitation equipment. When these birds are set free, the Park organises events, which are attended by adults and students, with a view to making them more environmentally aware. In the upper Tagliamento valley, the visitors’ centre at Forni di Sopra hosts the exhibition “La vegetazione del Parco”. It is about the vegetation of the area and is combined with excursions tailor-made for children, such as the “children’s pathway”. The visitors’ centre at Forni di Sotto has an exhibition on the different species of woodland, which is named “Le tipologie forestali del Parco”. 

It also includes interesting itineraries concerning the archaeology of the woodland, such as that of the “Teleferica della Val Poschiadea” (Cable car of the Poschiadea Valley). An additional visitors’ centre is to open soon at Frisanco and it will host an exhibition about dairy farming. The idea of an educational tour about the ancient dairy techniques was carried out after a former local dairy was refurbished. The tour describes the activities in a shepherd’s hut and the production of typical products.

The nearby “Forra del Cellina” Nature Reserve is adjacent to the parkland which extends over the municipalities of Andreis, Barcis and Montereale Valcellina. This Reserve includes the mountainous area between Barcis and Montereale which has been eroded into a gorge by the Cellina torrent. It carries the sediment into the Pordenone area where it is deposited, forming wide river beds.

This narrow gorge is similar to a canyon and is characterized by fluvial erosions which over the centuries, have created appealing rock sculptures such as the “marmitte dei giganti”. A winding road crosses the left side of the gorge for about ten kilometres up to the green lake of Barcis. Today, this attractive trail is not open, but it is due to be refurbished thanks to European Community funding. The tormented aspect of this valley led the most prominent poet of the Cellina valley, Giuseppe Malattia della Vallata (1875-1948), to believe that Dante may have found inspiration for spirals of his Inferno right here.

Exploring the Seas Around Italy

EXPLORING THE SEAS OF ITALY

Seas of Italy

The peninsula of Italy has a coastline of about 7,300 km and is surrounded by the  Mediterranean Sea, which has been historically divided into several smaller seas; Ligurian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Sardinia Sea,  Adriatic Sea, and Ionian Sea. .

The Ligurian Sea touches Italy along the coastline of the Liguria Region and the northern coastline of the Tuscany Region  of Tuscan. Depending on who produced the map you are looking at you will also see the Ligurian Sea extend as far south as the Island of Elba. The Ligurian Sea , center  is the Gulf of Genoa, further south you find the high and rocky coasts of the Riviera di Levante and Cinque Terre.

The Tyrrhenian Sea runs along the coast of the Tuscany Region, starting at Elba Island, south to the coastline of the Calabria Region.  The sea also covers the northern coast of the Island of Sicily and eastern coast of the island of Sardinia. The Tyrrhenian coast varies greatly, alternating with rocky to sandy beaches , with numerous bays and capes. Between the gulfs you should remember at least those of Naples , Salerno and Gaeta, between the Sorrento peninsula , between the headlands of Circeo and the Piombino . In the Tyrrhenian Sea , there are three major channels : between Elba Island and the Tuscany Region coast is the Piombino Channel , between Elba Island and Corsica Island is the Corsica Channel and between Sardinia Island and Corsica Island is the Strait of Bonifacio .

The Adriatic Sea runs along the eastern coast of Italy, from the Friuli Venezia Region south to Cape of Santa Maria di Leuca, in the Puglia Region. The Adriatic coast are fairly straight , characterized in the north by the gulfs of Trieste and Venice, the central region by the Conero promontory and in the south than the Gargano Peninsula. The Adriatic shoreline and beaches tend to be low and sandy, with lagoon ecosystems in the northern section.

The Ionian Sea borders the eastern coast of the Island of Sicily, the Southern coastline of the Calabria Region and Basilicata Region, and the western shorelines of the Puglia Region. The Ionian coasts are mostly low and sandy and are characterized from the large Gulf of Taranto, closed to the east by the Salento Peninsula ( which divides it from the Adriatic ) and to the west by the Calabrian peninsula ( which divides it from the Tyrrhenian Sea ) . The Strait of Messina connects the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas.

Sea of Sardinia is a small section on the western coastline of Sardina.

THE SEAS OF ITALY

 

Geography of the Tuscany Region

GEOGRAPHY OF THE TUSCANY REGION

geography of the tuscany region

The Tuscany Region has a varied and complex morphology; ranges of mountains and hills alternate with foothills and strips of plain. The true Tusco-Emilian Apennines can be distinguished from the mountainous and hilly groups of the Preapennines, separated by an imaginary line linking Montecatini Terme to Chiusi.

The highest chains along the watershed strip, the Pratomagno group (1,592 m.), the Chianti hills and the southern chain, which stretches between Casentino and Val di Chiana to the west and Val Tiberina to the east, are part of the Apennines; the Apuan Alps (1,945 m.) branch off from the ridge on the inner side. The trachyte massif of Mount Amiata (1,738 m.) and the Colline Metallifere belong to the Tuscan Apennines. The intermontane basins are of particular interest, especially for their settlements; the largest and best defined are Lunigiana, near the upper Magra valley, Garfagnana (upper Serchio basin), the basin of Florence, Mugello (upper Sieve valley), Valdarno Superiore, Casentino, Val di Chiana and lastly, the upper section of Val Tiberina. The most extensive plains are Valdarno Inferiore, Versilia (at the foot of the Apuan Alps) and the coastal plains of Maremma).

The rivers in Tuscany are irregular in size, torrential and winding, for they have adapted to the morphology of the region. With the exception of the upper courses of the Reno, Santerno, Lamone, Marecchia and Foglia, which enter the Adriatic, all the other Tuscan rivers flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The most important are the Tiber (only a stretch of its upper course in Tuscany), the Arno with its tributaries, the Sieve, Bisenzio, Greve, Pesa, Elsa and Era, the Magra and the Serchio, respectively flowing through Lunigiana and Garfagnana; the Cecina, the Ombrone and the Albegna, which flow through the Preapennine range.

The climate is temperate but there are considerable zonal variations depending on the distance from the sea, altitude and the position of the mountains. Generally speaking, the temperatures decrease from the Maremma coastal areas (to the SW) towards the Apennines (to the NE). Precipitations fall mainly in spring and autumn. The wettest zones are those of the north-western Apennines and Pratomagno, the Catenaia Alp, the Chianti mountains, the Mount Amiata group and the highest parts of the Colline Metallifere, while the driest are the coastal belt, the plains and the intermontane basins.

LANDSCAPE OF THE TUSCANY REGION

Geography of the Veneto Region

THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE VENETO REGION OF ITALY

cinque torri

The Veneto is the 8th largest region in Italy. It is located in the north-eastern part of Italy and is bordered to the east by Friuli Venezia Region, to the south by Emilia Romagna Region, to the west by Lombardy Region and to the north by Trentino-Alto Adige Region. At its northernmost corner it borders also on Austria. The north-south extension of Veneto is from the Austrian border to the mouth of the Po River and its east-west extension is from the eastern shore of Lake Garda on the west to the mouth of Tagliamento river on the east. Veneto can be divided into four areas: the northern Alpine zone, the hill zone, the lower plain and the coastal territory.

By area 29% of its surface is mountainous (Carnic Alps, eastern Dolomites and Venetian Prealps. The highest massif in the Dolomites is the Marmolada Mountain Group. Other Dolomite peaks are the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the Civetta Mountain Group. The Venetian Prealps are not as high and range from Lake Grade to the border of the FruiliVeneiza Region. A distinctive characteristic of the Pre-alps are the cave formations, including chasms and sink holes; the Spluga della Preta, situated in the Monte Lessini chain in the province of Verona, where the deepest cave in Italy is found and abundant  fossil deposits.

The Po Valley, covering 57% of Veneto, extends from the mountains to the Adriatic sea, broken only by some low hills: Euganean Hills, Berici Hills Colli Asolani and Montello, which constitute the remaining 14% of the territory. The plain itself is subdivided into the higher plain (gravel-strewn and not very fertile) and the lower plain (rich in water sources and arable terrain). The lower plain is both a mainstay of agricultural production and the most populated part of the region. Several rivers flow through the region: the Po, Adige, Brenta, Bacchiglione, Livenza, Piave, and Tagliamento.

The eastern shore of the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda, belongs to Veneto. The coastline covers approximately , of which are beaches. The coasts of the Adriatic Sea are characterized by the Venetian Lagoon, a flat terrain with ponds, marshes and islands. The Po Delta to the south features sandbars and dunes along the coastline. The inland portion contains cultivable land recently reclaimed by a system of canals and dykes. Fish ponds have been created there as well. The delta and the lagoon are a stopping-point for migratory birds.

DOLOMITE MOUNTAINS IN THE VENETO

PREALP MOUNTIANS OF THE VENETO

RIVERS IN THE VENETO

BEACHES IN THE VENETO

LAKES IN THE VENETO

Lago di Garda, Italy

SEAS

The Adriatic Sea

OTHER PLACES IN THE VENETO

Gulf of Venice

GULF OF VENICE

gulf venezia

The Gulf of Venice is a gulf that borders modern-day Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, and is at the north of the Adriatic Sea between the delta of the Po river in northern Italy and the Istria peninsula in Croatia. On average the gulf is 34 meters deep. It is the home of the popular destination island Albarella. The Tagliamento, Piave, Adige, Isonzo, Dragonja, and Brenta rivers run in to it. Major cities that lie on it are Venice, Trieste, Koper, Chioggia and Pula.

History

In antiquity the gulf was southern terminus of Amber Road. The Gulf of Venice gets its name from when the Venetian Republic was at the height of its power, at this time the Venetian Republic encompassed most of the northern Adriatic Sea.

Julian Alps Regional Park | Friuli Venezia

JULIAN ALPS REGIONAL PARK | FRIULI VENEZIA REGION

Friuli Venezia, Julian Alps

The Regional Park of the Julian Alps was set up in 1996. It includes the municipalities of Chiusaforte, Lusevera, Moggio Udinese, Resia,Resiutta and Venzone, which are all in the province of Udine. The whole area, which is completely mountainous, measures about 100 square kilometres. This pre-alpine territory which extends from the Tagliamento river to the Slovenian border has become a protected area thanks to its specific characteristics in terms of nature, landscape and ethnography.

Nature

The park joins two geographically different areas: the Alps and the Julian Pre-alps. The first contains Mount Canin (2.587 m), including the peak between the Baba Piccola and the Prevala Pass, the whole Foran dal Muss plateau, the Bila Pec? and the Ladris peak. The Cochiaze-Guarda,Plauris-Lavara ridges as well as the Musi chain belong to the Pre-alps. They consist of long ranges of mountains running parallel from east to west and sloping down towards the Friuli plain.

The typical geomorphology, vegetation and the fact that human settlements are limited to the valley bed, provide the area with a high degree of wilderness and offer the perfect setting for long walks in a wild and suggestive landscape, often in complete solitude. The huge variety of fauna and flora come basically from three big bio-geographic areas: the Mediterranean, the Alpine and the Illyric regions. These species cannot be easily found anywhere else. The endemic species, the karst phenomena at high altitude, the springs, the abandoned mines, the dark beech wood, the rural villages, the livestock, the diversity of colours in autumn and then steinbocks, chamois, whistlers, all these greatly contribute to enhance these areas. Besides, they represent an important point of reference for the different cultures belonging to the Friuli and Slav regions.

Ethnographic aspects of the Resia valley

The Slav communities of Alta Torre and Resia valleys have maintained their ancient heritage through customs, music and dances which are not found anywhere else in the Alps. There are many folk celebrations in the different towns of the valley, such as the ancient carnival of the Resia Valley (Püst) where all the participants are dressed in old and worn-out clothes to look like tramps babaci or kukaci, or wear the most beautiful and precious traditional white masks, the so-called Te lipe bile mas?kare.

Ancient celebrations such as the “donation of cheese” or the “cambio della cameranza”* usually belong to religious ceremonies, which are enthusiastically accompanied by local music and dances.

The first settlements in the Resia Valley date back to the 7th century AC, when some Slav populations reached Italy after the Avari and the Longobards. In the past, Resia was a secluded valley between the Musi chain to the south, and the imposing Canin rock to the east and to the north. From the cultural viewpoint, it is a linguistic area with extremely important traditions, which are studied, even today by many Italian and foreign researchers. The Resian language derives from the Alpine Slavonic which is the basis for the Slavonic language spoken today. The question still remains as to whether it should be considered a dialect or a language in its own right. Resia is well known for the knife-grinding craft, which is still carried out in Stolvizza, where the local museum is dedicated to this ancient activity. The earthquake in 1976 badly damaged the most typical buildings, however the towns of Coritis and Stolvizza still have the typical Resian houses with stone walls and wooden balconies. As we move towards the Canin area, located between the Italian and the Austrian borders, the variety of ethnographic aspects is replaced by the significant remains dating back to the First World War, which had a strong impact on the area.

A project for environmentally friendly tourism aimed at sustainable development

Today, the Ente Parco is the authority in charge of the safeguard and promotion of this protected area. In co-operation with the local town authorities, the Ente Parco aims to protect and maintain the integrity and vitality of the territory for future generations, as well as set up the basis for sustainable, social and economic development. One of its main objectives was to enhance the area by improving its tracks and facilities. Many refuges, such as Goriuda, Rio Nero, Cjariguart, Canin have been refurbished and turned into rural hotels for those who need a stopover point during daily excursions or even longer trekking itineraries.

During summer it is possible to stop at the Malga Coot, a holiday farm at the foot of the Babe which is part of a project for the reintroduction of alpine livestock such as theplezzana sheep and the Resian cow. It also offers the opportunity for horse riding and trekking. The visitors’ Centre at Prato di Resia provides visitors with many information points and services. The structure overlooks the charming valley and the north-side of the Musi chain. Visitors can have more information about the area through exhibitions set up in dedicated rooms or they can go on a virtual tour of the area. The visitors’ Centre also offers accommodation for 20 people. Particularly interesting is the permanent exhibition “Forests, man, economy”, which is located in the Palazzo Organi Martina at Venzone. It is dedicated to the woodland and to the related activities. Some other visitors' centres will be soon set up in the surrounding areas, for instance at Resiutta (mining activities), at Sella Nevea (karst areas and speleology) and at Lusevera (protected areas of the Eastern Alps).

Lago d'Iseo, Italy

LAGO ISEO

Monte Isola e il Lago dIseo

Lake Iseo or Lago d'Iseo or Sebino is the fourth largest lake in Lombardy, Italy, fed by the Oglio river. It is in the north of the country in the Val Camonica area, near the cities of Brescia and Bergamo. The lake is almost equally divided between the Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia. Northern Italy is renowned for its heavily industrialised towns and in between there are several stunning lakes. Lake Iseo remains one of outstanding natural beauty, with its lush green mountains surrounding the crystal clear lake. There are several medieval towns around the lake, the largest being Iseo and Sarnico. These are filled with bars, shops, cafes, hotels, B&B's and several campsites running alongside the lake shore. The Franciacorta wine region, just minutes away from the lake produces some of the worlds finest sparkling wines. The road north to Switzerland used to run along the side of the lake, and stories about entire families being swallowed up by the murky waters abound. A much safer road, carved into the side of the mountains, now exists. In the middle of the lake is Monte Isola (or Montisola). There is easy access via the regular running lake ferries.

Around the shore of the lake are a number of small towns:- On the Brescian side:

  • Iseo
  • Pilzone
  • Sulzano
  • Marone
  • Sale Marasino
  • Pisogne
  • Paratico
  • Clusane

On the Bergamo side:

  • Sarnico
  • Predore
  • Tavernola Bergamasca
  • Riva di Solto
  • Castro
  • Lovere
  • and on Montisola (Province of Brescia):
  • Peschiera Maraglio
  • Siviano, Sensole and Carzano
  • Cure

Two smaller islands, Loreto and San Paolo, are privately owned.

Lago d'Orta, Italy

LAGO d'ORTA | ITALY

lago dorta

Lake Orta (Italian: Lago d’Orta) is a lake in northern Italy west of Lake Maggiore. It has been so named since the 16th century, but was previously called the Lago di San Giulio, after Saint Julius (4th century), the patron saint of the region; Cusio is a merely poetical name. Its southern end is about 20 km by rail NW of Novara on the main Turin-Milan line, while its north end is about  30 km by rail south of the Gravellona-Toce railway station, half-way between Ornavasso and Omegna. Its scenery is characteristically Italian, while the San Giulio island has some very picturesque buildings, and takes its name from the local saint, Julius of Novara, who lived in the 4th century. Located around the lake are Orta San Giulio, built on a peninsula projecting from the east shore of the lake, Omegna at its northern extremity, Pettenasco to the east, and Pella to the west. It is supposed that the lake is the remnant of a much larger sheet of water by which originally the waters of the Toce flowed south towards Novara. As the glaciers retreated the waters flowing from them sank, and were gradually diverted into Lake Maggiore.

Lago di Como, Italy

LAGO COMO | ITALY

lago como villa de balbianello

Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian, also known as Lario, after the Latin name of the lake; Lach de Comm in Lombard; Latin: Larius Lacus) is a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy. It has an area of , making it the third-largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 200 meters deep, it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times, and a very popular tourist attraction with many artistic and cultural gems. It has many villas and palaces (such as Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni, and Villa Carlotta). Many famous people have or have had homes on the shores of Lake Como, such as Matthew Bellamy, Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho, Sylvester Stallone, Julian Lennon, Richard Branson, Ben Spies, and Pierina Legnani. Lake Como is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe.

GETTING AROUND ON LAKE COMO

The Lake Como ferry service is a highly developed public transport system linking the many small towns around the Lake. A motorized service began in 1826 when a steamship with sails, the “Lario”, was launched by the newly established Società privilegiata per l'impresa deibattelli a vapore nel Regno Lombardo Veneto. Since 1952 the system has been run under the auspices of a government organization called first the Gestione Commissariale Governativa and subsequently the Gestione Governativa Navigazione Laghi, which is also responsible for services on Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda.Massimo Gozzi, "History of Navigation on Lake Como",

  • "Motorship" services along the western branch and northern end of the Lake (betweenColico or Piona and Como town), with additional shuttles to the mid-lake area.
  • "Fast services" that follow broadly the same route but use faster hydrofoils, stop less frequently, and cost extra.
  • "Ferries" that run only between the popular mid-lake villages of Menaggio, Bellagio, and Varenna, plus Cadenabbia. Some of these boats carry vehicles as well as passengers.

The lake is shaped much like the letter " Y". The northern branch begins at the town of Colico, while the towns of Como and Lecco sit at the ends of the southwestern and southeastern branches respectively. The small towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Lierna are situated at the intersection of the three branches of the lake: a triangular boat service operates between them. The Lierna area is an historical charming site of the lake with a white beach and a famous castle. Lake Como is fed primarily by the Adda River, which enters the lake near Colico and flows out at Lecco. This geological conformation makes the southwestern branch a dead end, and so Como, unlike Lecco, is often flooded. The mountainous pre-alpine territory between the two southern arms of the lake (between Como, Bellagio, and Lecco) is known as the Larian Triangle, or Triangololariano. The source of the river Lambro is here. At the centre of the triangle, the town of Canzo is the seat of the Comunità montana del Triangolo Lariano, an association of the 31 municipalities that represent the 71,000 inhabitants of the area. As a tourist destination, Lake Como is popular for its landscapes, wildlife, and spas. It is a venue for sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

In 1818 Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Thomas Love Peacock: "This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests".

Lago di Garda, Italy

LAKE GARDA | ITALY

lake garda

Lago di Garda is Italy's largest natural lake. The eastern shore of Lake Garda is in the province of Verona, and province of Trento.  The eastern shore is bordered by the mountain chain of Monte Baldo that  runs parallel to the Lake and separates the it from the Adige Valley.  Monte Baldo, which is accessible from Malcesine on a modern cableway and is a popular spot with Summer vacationers and naturalists. It is also an important winter resort with modern hotels and sports facilities. Toward the south, Baldo slopes toward the valleys of Ca­prino and Garda, where the line of morainic hills begins and the wine zones. 

Malcesine, Brenzone, San leno di Montagna, Torri, Garda, Bardo­lino, Lazise, and Peschiera are the principal tourist centers; how­ever others are being developed at a rapid rate. Val di Sogno, Punta di San Vigilio, and Golfo di Garda offer the most impressive views.  Bardolino once a prehistoric lake village that later became Roman,  and was surrounded by walls (no longer existing) by the Scaligeri rulers. Famous for the wine that bears its name, it also has several very interesting medieval monuments like the Ro­manesque Church of S. leno, which is from the Longobard period. The Church of S. Maria, in the district of Cisano, dates back to the 8th century. Bardolino is a tourist resort at the height of development

TOWNS AROUND LAKE GARDA

Brenzone is located in the center part of the Garda basin and its territory is covered by a dense olive grove. The districts on the lake - Assenza, Porto, Magugnano, Marniga, Castelletto - are peaceful and picturesque tourist centers. It has good hotel facili­ties. On the shore road is the Romanesque Church of S. Leno.

Garda has very old origins and was elevated to an Earldom by Charlemagne. For a long time it had jurisdiction over the entire lake. In the narrow streets and along the lake are several typical constructions like the loggia of the 16th-century Palazzo Carlotti (now Pincini) and the Gothic House of the Capitano. In the ex col­legiate church there are a loggia and fragments of Longobard sculpture. The very large park of Villa Albertini is truly stupendous. In San Vigilio, one of the most charming spots on the lake, is' Villa Guarienti, which was built in the 16th century. Garda is a' tourist resort that is at the height of development.

Lazise is still surrounded by walls and cren­elated towers. The Scaligeri Castle is one of the most typical and picturesque medieval monuments in the Garda zone. Near the port that is extremely picturesque is the Romanesque Church of San Nicolo (12th cent.) and the Venetian customs house. It is already a tourist resort with good hotel facilities.

Malcesine is located in a charming location amid olive trees and gardens and dominated by Monte Baldo, the town has a typical medieval nucleus and a Scaliger castle (13th-14th cenU with a tower that offers a stupendous view of the lake. Also noteworthy is the Palazzo dei Capitani (15th cent.). An ideal vacation resort in constant expansion along the lake and toward the mountain, Malcesine is the point of departure for the new Monte Baldo ca­bleway that climbs to an altitude of 1,748 meters.

Peschiera sui Garda is located at the southeastern tip of the lake, where the Mincio flows into it. Peschiera was founded by the Roman Arilica and during the Middle Ages on was a very important fortress. It has Venetian and Austrian walls surrounded by a moat and, along with Verona, Mantua, and Legnago, was one of the strongholds of the Austrian « quadrilateral» (1815-1866).

San Zeno di Montagna. The town is like a balcony overlooking tne lake and it has many meadows and woods. It is popular for winter' sports that are practiced in the locality of Costabella and for inter­esting excursions to the Monte Baldo chain, which is famous for the variety of its rich flora and the numerous rare species to be found.

On the eastern side of Baldo are Ferrara di Monte Baldo, Spiazzi ­where there is a view of the Adige Valley from the celebrated Sanc­tuary of the Madonna delia Corona - and Caprino Veronese.

Torri del Benaco. The town corresponds to the Roman Castrum Turrium and still has a part of the old walls and the castle with courtyards and crenelated towers rebuilt in 1383 by the Scaligers. There are old streets and a port that give it a quaint appearance, and it is sourrounded by olive trees, gardens and parks with villas and hotels. A stupendous scenic road climbs to Albisano (309 m.) and to San Zeno di Montagna (583 m.).

Lago Maggiore, Italy

LAGO MAGGIORE | ITALY

lago maggiore

Lake Maggiore is a large lake located on the south side of the Alps. It is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the Italian regions of Piedmontand Lombardyand the Swiss canton of Ticino. Located halfway between Lake Orta and Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore extends for about between Locarno and Arona. The climate is mild in both summer and winter, producing Mediterranean vegetation, with many gardens growing rare and exotic plants. Well-known gardens include those of the Borromean and Brissago Islands, that of the Villa Taranto in Verbania, and the Alpinia botanical garden above Stresa.

Lake Maggiore is 64.37 kilometers / 34¾ nautical miles long, and wide, except at the bay opening westward between Pallanza and Stresa, where it is wide. It is the longest Italian lake, although Lake Garda has a greater area. Its mean height above the sea level is 193 metres; a deep lake, its bottom is almost everywhere below sea-level: at its deepest, 179 metres below. Its form is very sinuous, so that there are few points from which any considerable part of its surface can be seen at a single glance. If this lessens the effect of the apparent size, it increases the variety of its scenery. While the upper end is completely alpine in character, the middle region lies between hills of gentler form, and the lower end advances to the verge of the plain of Lombardy.this paragraph is taken largely verbatim from John Ball, The Alpine Guide, Central Alps, 1856, p. 306 Lake Maggiore is the most westerly of the three great southernpre alpine lakes, the others being Lake Como and Lake Garda. The lake basin has tectonic-glacial origins and its volume is . The lake has a surface area of about , a maximum length of (on a straight line) and, at its widest, is . Its main tributaries are the Ticino, the Maggia, the Toce (by which it receives the outflow of Lake Orta) and the Tresa (which is the sole emissary of Lake Lugano). The rivers Verzasca,Giona, and Cannobino also flow into the lake. Its outlet is the Ticino which, in turn, joins the river Po just south-east of Pavia. The lake’s jagged banks are surrounded by the Pennine, Lepontine and Lugano Alps. Prominent peaks around the lake are the Gridone, Monte Tamaro, Monte Nudo and the Mottarone. The highest mountain overlooking Lake Maggiore is Monte Rosa (4,634 m), located about 50 km west of it. The western bank is in Piedmont (provinces of Novara and Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola) and the eastern in Lombardy (province of Varese), whereas the most northerly section extends thirteen kilometres into the canton of Ticino, where it constitutes its lowest point above sea-level as well as that of Switzerland. The culminating point of the lake's drainage basin is the Grenzgipfel summit of Monte Rosa at 4,618 metres above sea level.

Lake Cornino, Friuli Venezia Region

LAKE CORNINO | ITALY

Lake Carnino, Friuli Venezia Region

 

Lake Carnino nature Reserve covers an area of 510 hectares on the extreme south-west border of the Carnia pre-alps and is surrounded by a splendid landscape. Its severe rock faces and its screes act as a backdrop to the wide bed of the Tagliamento river.

Besides the mountains and the river, the Reserve also boasts a crystal-clear lake rich in flora and fauna, encouraged by its mild climate. In this specific area, the Tagliamento river is over a kilometre wide. The karst morphology appears severe and wild, with evident contrasts in the landscape. The Mount Prat plateau stretches out on top of the rocky slopes, and it is interspersed with woodland, meadows and grazing lands that overlook the Arzino valley to the west. Lake Cornino lies in a vast hollow carved out by landslides which occurred after the retreat of the glacier. The Lake is 8,500 square metres wide and 8 metres deep, it has a green-azure colour and is fed by subterranean karst currents.

The rock faces of the area are made up of layers of limestone, which contain many fossils. Common among theses are the fingerprint-shaped ellispactine organisms which were responsible for the formation of the coral-type reefs. There are also fossils of other species such as seaweeds, sea urchins and small shellfish. The fragments breaking away from the rocky surfaces surrounding the plateau, have formed wide scree-covered areas over the centuries: this is due to strike faults that have created strips which are more easily subject to erosion. The Tagliamento river is considered to be the “king of alpine rivers”. It is the only river with a primarily natural bed and therefore of great interest from the nature viewpoint. Research on its morphology and vegetation is also carried out here. The Reserve includes an area measuring about 6 kilometres in length, which is the only section out of the 170 km-long river to be part of a protected area. The river bed separates the Reserve from the Osoppo plain, which is surrounded by the Carnia and Julian pre-alps. The plain was formed by huge glaciers during the glacial period, roughly between 75 and 10 thousand years ago. As these moved down from the Alps, they deeply eroded the ground and the edges of this area by forming ridges of debris resulting in the creation of the morainic Amphitheatre of the Tagliamento river. As the glaciers retreated, such ridges acted as natural barriers which dammed up the Tagliamento river resulting in the formation of a huge lake. The lake stretched northwards up to Venzone and Somplago from which some islands emerged and later formed the Osoppo hills.


Much later, the Tagliamento river carried huge quantities of alluvial soil down into the lake. Now, only the Cavazzo Lake and a huge water table, which is one of the most important waterresourcesof the region, remain. Traces of glaciers are evident in the Reserve and as can be seen by the moraine on the Mount Prat plateau, which was formed by masses of rock carried down from the Carnic chain of mountains, and by its sheer rock walls.

The differences in landscape are characterised by the different species of vegetation. Flora typical of alpine areas cohabits with that usually found in hot, dry, Mediterranean climates and with South-European and Illyric-Balcanic species.

The orientation of the rocky slopes and the reflection of the sun on the river bed have an insulation effect, which results in a particularly mild climate for the thermophiles which are usually found along the coast or in southern regions. Particularly surprising is the presence of holm oaks (Quercus ilex) in the rocky areas, whose lush green is specially vivid during winter and contrasts with the thermophilous woodland scattered across the slopes.

The vegetation of the Tagliamento river is sparse and discontinuous, it is characterized by pioneer or unstable species living on the gravel of the bed, which are rare or endemic to this environment. The fauna includes many species, which are typical of different habitats including the mountains, the plains and the marshes, but it is particularly interesting for the bird species found in the area. Lakes and ponds are favourable places for herons, little ringed plovers, ducks and gulls, while the barren and steppe-like river beds host the woodlark (Lullula arborea) and the goatsucker (Caprimulgus europaeus). The woodland hosts many thermophile species such as the white Western Bonelli Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) and the rock bunting (Emberiza cia). However, the rocky areas are the most interesting ones as they house colonies of rock-birds such as the raven (Corvus corax) and the crag martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris). For some rare and precious species such as the peregrine (Falco peregrinus), the eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and the black kite (Milvus migrans) this is the best nesting site in the region.

It is also particularly important for its birds of prey and is one of the most interesting Alpine areas for bird watching. During the eighties, the griffon (Gyps fulvus) was successfully re-introduced in the Reserve. It is a kind of vulture with a wingspan of nearly 3 metres and 8-12 kg in weight. Many examples have started to nest on the nearby rocky slopes and have formed a colony which today boasts somewhere between 60 and 100 griffons spread over the Eastern Alps. This colony attracts those griffons coming from other European areas, in particular those arriving from Croatia during the summer season.

The project of reintroduction includes many research and promotional activities.It also allows birdwatchers to easily observe this beautiful vulture in one of the few remaining habitats of Central Europe where it is still present. There are many different itineraries which allow visitors to enjoy the nature and the landscape of this area. These itineraries are linked to the main routes which already exist in this pre-alpine area and also offer the possibility of longer and more demanding excursions. The starting point is the visitors’ Centre of the Reserve, located northwards of Somp Cornino, where visitors can admire the most important examples of the fauna, find information and educational tools relating to all the naturalistic and environmental aspects of the area.

Lake Resia (Reschensee) in Northern Italy

LAGO RESIA | ITALY

lago resia

Lago di Resia (in German: Reschensee) is an artificial lake in the western portion of Bolzano Province of the Trentino Alto Adige Region.  Lake Resia is just south of the Reschen Pass, which forms the border with Austria, and 3 km east of the mountain ridge forming the border with Switzerland. With its capacity of 120 million cubic metres it is the largest lake in the province. Its surface area of 6.6 km² makes it also the largest lake above 1,000 m in the Alps.

The Lake is fed by the Adige River, Rojenbach and Karlinbach and drained by the Adige. The lake is famous for the steeple of a submerged 14th-century church; when the water freezes, this can be reached on foot. A legend says that during winter one can still hear church bells ring. In reality the bells were removed from the tower on July 18, 1950, a week before the demolition of the church nave and the creation of the lake.

Plans for a smaller (5 m deep) artificial lake date from 1920. In July 1939, the Montecatini company (now Edison Energia) introduced a new plan for a deeper lake, which would unify two natural lakes (Reschensee and Mittersee) and submerge several villages, including Graun and part of Reschen. The creation of the dam started in April 1940 pursuant to this second plan but, due to the war and local resistance, did not finish until July 1950. In 1947 Montecatini received 30 million Swiss francs from the Swiss company Elektro-Watt for the construction of the dam (in exchange for 10 years of seasonal electricity), ironically after the population of Splügen had voted against the company's plans to build a dam that would have submerged that Swiss village. Graun's population did not have such success, despite the willing ear of Antonio Segni who later became Italy's prime minister. In total 163 homes and of cultivated land were submerged.

Lunigiana Area | Tuscany Region

LUNIGIANA AREA | TUSCANY REGION

lunigiana region map tuscany

Lunigiana is a historical region located in both Tuscany and Liguria, between the La Spezia and Massa-Carrara provinces. It owns its name to the city of Luni, an ancient Etruscan city, and then Roman colony in 177 BC. In the 5th century, the Lunigiana was robbed by the Vandals, and then by the Longobards of Rotari. At the end of the first millenium, the earl-bishops of Luni and the Malaspina family fought for the predominion of Lunigiana. The dispute was finally resolved on behalf of the Malaspina that started an hegemony on the region.

Today Lunigiana corresponds to the valley of the Magra River, thus it is administratively divided between two Provinces: La Spezia and Massa Carrara. However, in the past Lunigiana covered a bigger area represented by the diocese of Luni.

Thanks to its geographical features and to its strategic position, the Magra Valley has always been a natural corridor that has seen the passage of different peoples who have strongly influenced the history and organization of this territory. Lunigiana has featured a strong cultural identity since the Prehistoric Era, as witnessed by the popular Statue Stele, anthropomorphic stone statues dating back to the 4th-1st millennium B.C., kept at the Piagnaro Castle in Pontremoli.

The name “Lunigiana” was first used in 1141 to indicate a territory belonging to the Roman municipality of Luni and to its 35 Parish churches scattered around the Magra Valley, Serchio Valley and the coast as far as Versilia in the South and Levanto towards West. This territory is today referred to as “Lunigiana Storica” (Historical Lunigiana).

The Romans, who had defeated the Ligurian people living in this area, founded the city of Luni at the mouth of River Magra in 177 B.C.. Luni was very powerful especially during the Imperial time when they started to excavate the nearby marble quarries in Carrara. Thanks to the harbour these products could be shipped to all the territories belonging to the Empire. Also, the area was well connected already in the Republican Age thanks to an efficient road system. Unfortunately, the city experienced a productive and trade crisis in the 4th century due to the shutting down of the marble quarries and to the abandon of the harbour that became a marsh.

After the decay of Luni no other city or political power managed to give a unified administrative entity to Lunigiana again. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, during the barbarian invasions (6th-7th century), in Lunigiana Byzantines fought against the Longobards, therefore in this period many castles and fortifications were built. When the Longobards won, Lunigiana passed under the influence of Lucca that continued also during the rule of the Franks.

While Luni was suffering sackings by the Saracens and Normans, the Frankish dukedom was replaced by a Carolingian march, however no political change took place until the 10th century. The territory was organized according to the “curtes”, rural land properties that were the basis on which the following division into fiefdoms took place. These lands belonged mainly to rich families, in particular to the Obertenghi, but also to the Church and its bishops.

At the half of the 10th century the King of Italy Berengario II founded the Mark of Liguria Orientale (Eastern Liguria) ruled by the Earl Luni Oberto of the Obertenghi family. Lunigiana was included into this Mark so it was no longer under the influence of Lucca.

In the 10th-11th century, the territory was divided into numerous small land properties due to the crisis of the Italian Reign and to the absence of strong urban centres.

Therefore, in the 12th and 13th century Lunigiana experienced a political instability during which two political entities in contrast with one another emerged: the Malaspina family (part of the Obertenghi dinasty) on one side and the bishops of Luni on the other. They fought each other throughout the 13th century until the 1304 when they finally signed the Treaty of Castelnuovo in the presence of the poet Dante Alighieri (who was exiled in Lunigiana) as their solicitor.

With this treaty, the bishop of Luni maintained its rule over the coast and the lower Magra valley whereas all upper Lunigiana was assigned to the Malaspina who however were unable to create a unified fiefdom. The lands were in fact divided in two parts: the “Spino Secco”, ruled by Corrado Malaspina, included the lands on the right riverside of the Magra River whereas the “Spino Fiorito”, referring to Obizzo Malaspina, covered the left riverside with the exception of Villafranca. Pontremoli was the only town that was not subjected to the Malaspina rule and that acted as an independent Comune for centuries.

Throughout the Late Middle Ages Lunigiana was divided into smaller and smaller fiefdoms ruled by different foreign lords. Some popular characters of that time, such as Castruccio Castracani and Spinetta Malaspina, tried to unify the territory without any luck so in the 14th century Lunigiana was divided between the main cities of that period: Genoa, Milan, Lucca and Florence.

During the Modern Age Lunigiana continued to be a territory at the border of different municipalities and small fiefdoms ruled by the Malaspina. When Napoleon occupied Italy, the local fiefdoms had to pledge loyalty to the French Empire, but with the Vienna Congress Lunigiana was assigned again to the Italian dukedoms of Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Sardinia.

 

Marshes in the Friuli Venezia Region

MARCHES IN THE FRIULI VENEZIA REGION

venice-lagoon-trieste

The biotopes are small protected areas which aim to safeguard the local habitat and the rare species of flora and fauna often subject to extinction. Since 1996, when a regional law on protected areas was issued, 24 biotopes have been set up so far.

They mainly cover coastal resurgent areas, the magredi plains and hilly areas, where natural habitats are rare and greatly reduced. Together, the areas represented are the “magredi” (poor meadows), the wet coastal regions, low-lying peat fields and the hill and mountainous marsh areas.

The combination of different soils in today’s Friuli plain is due to different types of fluvial-glacial sediments which have been further modified by man while exploiting the different natural resources over the centuries. In the past, any traveller who visited these areas would see arid meadows spreading over large areas of the high plains, wide marshes in the resurgent areas and woodland on the low plains. Land reclaiming and rationalisation as well as improved farming techniques have helped increase the exploitable agricultural areas and created more uniformity of landscape among the plains.

Today’s traveller can satisfy his curiosity by visiting the biotopes of the magredi of St. Quirino and of the marshes of Flambro and Virco: they not only exemplify those habitats which have nearly become extinct today but are also the only remnants of the ancient Friuli plain.  

The “Magredi” of St. Quirino

The huge alluvial sediments carried by the Cellina and Meduna torrents have certainly formed the part of the plain which has been less influenced by man. Its primitive soils, together with seasonal grazing of livestock, have contributed to form and maintain large expanses of poor pastures, the so-called “magredi”. This kind of landscape was very common in most of the Venetian-Friuli high plains. The progressive rural development has lead to conserve almost only these areas which are under military ownership or near the shores of torrential rivers. The biotope of St. Quirino covers and protects an area of about 20 hectares. Although the “magredi” could seem uninteresting, the flora is rich in species from the Mediterranean, Illyric, Alpine and Central-European areas. The abundance of flowers in spring includes many orchids and rare species of plants such as a particular type of cabbage (Brassicaglabrescens), which is endemic to the Friuli “magredi”, and the Crambe (Crambe tataria), probably introduced by the Barbarian invasions and today perfectly integrated in the habitat. Its closest stations are in Hungary. As a matter of fact, there are different types of meadows to discover, which stretch from the river shores up to the higher terraces, where a layer of infertile, leach soil characterises the ground and has caused the partial stagnation of water.

The fauna includes many species of birds of prey. Its landscape is certainly remarkable: during clear, winter days, these meadows seem to blend with the snowy peaks of the Carnic pre-alps. The slight inclination of the alluvial cones to the south allows a wider view nearly up to the sea. The river beds which are usually dried-up unless some significant flood occurs, give the impression of being on a steppe, similar to that of Central Asia. Nowadays the arid meadows need to be looked after to prevent bushes from completely overgrowing the area, now that seasonal pasturing of livestock is no longer common, thus avoiding the extinction of fauna and flora.

The biotopes of Flambro and Virco

The low-lying alkaline peat fields and the ancient landscape around the Friuli resurgence are a rare sight these days. The two biotopes of Flambro and Virco are probably the best preserved areas. The springs are formed of water which runs under the gravel in the high plain, and emerges thanks to a different consistency of the substratum. Pools, springs, moats and rivers form a complex water network on the surface. Among the most significant habitats, are the so-called alkaline peat areas and the small areas of purple moor grass “molinieti”.

Those poor areas had little to offer to their inhabitants. The grassland was mown at least once a year and the carts were carried along small, raised cattle-tracks. In the past, these areas were more extensive and the huge quantity of water could guarantee their preservation.

Today, the ground water table has retreated and the grassland is neither mown nor produces straw. The ever growing bushes suffocate the rarer species. Armeria helodes and Erucastrum palustre are two plants of European relevance which grow only in few small areas of the Friulan alcaline fens. There are also some other rare species such as the round leaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), a carnivorous plant which makes up for the lack of nitrogen, characteristic of peaty soil, by eating insects. These habitats house many birds of prey as well as many amphibians and rare insects. The dynamics of this environment have made it necessary for an active part to be played in the management of the biotopes, bushes need to be cut back and the grasslands mown so as to protect the environment which is becoming rare and on the verge of extinction.

By walking along these areas you understand how complex the agricultural habitat of this plain could have been: with its marshes, peat fields and arid plains, which were often enriched with organic fertilizer and alternated with cultivated fields, woodland and hedges which grew in patches depending on the quantity of water available. Today, water is channelled into ditches or canals along the fields, it is a driving force as well as a key element to better understanding this habitat, whose skyline is almost always interrupted with trees or with orderly hedgerows.

The peat fields of Schichizza

This biotope covers roughly 10 hectares on the west-side of the Fusine plain, between the Julian Alps and the Caravanche. As in all the Tarvisio area, eastwards of the Camporosso Pass, the water flowing down from this area reaches the Danube basin. The climate of the Fusine plain is similar to that of Central Europe as it is colder and drier than the Prealps.

The habitat, which is characterised by marshy meadows and peat fields interspersed with numerous streams, is dotted with Scotch pines, and recalls the landscape of the Central and Northern Alps rather than that of the marshy lowlandsSome rare species of plants such as the white hellebore (Veratrum album subsp. album) and the white beak sedge (Rhynchospora alba) carpet this biotope. Extensive blossoming of Siberian irises (Iris sibirica) and marsh gentians (Gentiana pneumonanthe) enhance the flora. Among its fauna there is the oriental hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor roumanicus) and many other small mammals. Of great interest is also the wide mown grassland, which is often very wet and covers almost all the plains adjacent to the biotope. Some traces of the ancient railway, which was inaugurated in 19th century and linked Tarvisio with Jesenice and Lubiana, can still be seen here.

Mount Amiata | Tuscany Region

MONTE AMIATA | TUSCANY REGION

monte amiata 

Mount Amiata is the largest of the lava domes in the Amiata lava dome complex located about 20 km northwest of Lake Bolsena in the southern Tuscany region of Italy. Half of the mountain area is in the Grosseto provinceand the northern slopes are within the Siena Province.

Mount Amiata (La Vetta) is a compound lava dome with a trachytic lava flow that extends to the east. It is part of the larger Amiata complex volcano. A massive viscous trachydacitic lava flow, 5 km long and 4 km wide, is part of the basal complex and extends from beneath the southern base of Corno de Bellaria dome. Radiometric dates indicate that the Amiata complex had a major eruptive episode about 300,000 years ago. No eruptive activity has occurred at Amiata during the Holocene, but thermal activity including cinnabar mineralization continues at a geothermal field near the town of Bagnore, at the SW end of the dome complex.

The main economical resources of the Amiata region are chestnuts, timber and, increasingly, tourism (ski resorts include the peak area, Prato delle Macinaie, Prato della Contessa, Rifugio Cantore and Pian della Marsiliana). The lower areas are characterized by olive trees and vines. Other vegetation include beech and fir. In ancient times cinnabar was extracted here. The region is included in the comuni of Abbadia San Salvatore, Arcidosso, Castel del Piano, Piancastagnaio, Santa Fiora and Seggiano, all located between 600 and 800 metres of altitude.

Rosandra Valley | Friuli Venezia Region

ROSANDRA VALLEY | FRIULI VENEZIA REGION

Rosanda Valley Friuli Venezia

This reserve is entirely within the municipality of San Dorligo della Valle (Dolina). It includes the highest peak of the Karst, Mount Cocusso, which is 670 metres high, and the deep crevasse of the Rosandra valley, formed by the Rosandra torrent. With its 30-metre waterfall, this torrent marks the presence of the fault formed where limestone andflysh meet. From this point on, the torrent runs on calcareous soil and forms small waterfalls, lakes and gorges. Of exceptional value are not only the Karst woodland, the non-spontaneous Austrian pinewoods and the particular characteristics of the moorland of Mount Stena, but also the different habitats of the Rosandra valley ranging from watery to rocky landscapes. This valley’s morphology is unique, and besides the north-west, south-west direction allowing an easy passage for the Bora wind, also the mountain ridges are different.

Its vertical rocky walls exposed to sun to the right contrast with the huge alluvial fields to the left, thus creating nearly completely contrasting microclimates. In particular, there is a pioneering vegetation along the “macereti” consisting of mountainous and rocky species, with a high concentration of rare species from alpine and oriental areas. This is the only area in Italy where species such as the Moehringia tommasinii, a very rare oriental chickweed, grow. The thistle variety, Drypis spinosa ssp.jacquiniana is a tertiary species which survived the glaciations thanks to these extremely selective cliffs which provided protection for many species.

Despite its wild and apparently inhospitable aspect, this valley has been densely populated since prehistory.

The remains found and the fortifications strategically built on the opposite mountain sides so as to control access, together with the roman aqueduct transporting water to Tergeste (the ancient name for Trieste) the small medieval church of St. Mary in Siaris and some other remains, represent this area’s history and traditions over the centuries. 

Rosolina Beach, Italy

ROSOLINA BEACH | ADRATIC VENETO

Rosolina Beach Italy

Rosolina beach and village is located south of Venice in the Veneto Region.  With long beaches, a variety of tourist offerings ,and the uniqueness of the environment of the Po Delta qualify the seaside resort of the province of Rovigo that is frequented by young people and families. This thin ribbon of sand that extends for nine kilometres, Rosolina Mare is a young beach city, was developed in the 1960s to exploit the considerable potential for tourism.  Due to its due location a lot of attention has been given to safeguard the environmental value of the area. There is a dense pine forest, together with the Mediterranean forest of oak trees that boarders the dunes of the beach.  The forest offers 172 acres with trees and a quiet retreat for a picnic and relax.

WHAT TO DO AT THE ROSOLINA BEACH AREA

There are several fish farms of the nearby are equipped for the breeding a variety of species. Rosolina Mare has numerous tourist facilities and numerous sport offerings. Swimming pools, bicycles that can be rented, tennis courts, horse ridding schools and the tourist dock of Porto Fossone fill sunny days spent at Rosolina.

You could also spend your days discovering the natural and historic beauty that surrounds Rosolina Mare such as, the Costal Botanic Garden of Porto Caleri.  The island of Albarella is only a few kilometres from Rosalina. This island has a stretch of sand of more than two and a half kilometres that slowly slopes into the sea and deserted long stretches. The backdrop of the island is 600 meters of forest with Mediterranean flora. Albarella also has a port with approximately five hundred mooring places and one of the most beautiful golf courses of Italy.

Sottomarina Beach, Italy

SOTTOMARINA BEACH | ADRIATIC VENETO

Sottomarina Beach in Italy

Sottomarina beach is a 10 km strip of land along Adriatic sea, it is bordered by the Brenta River on the north and the Adige River on south.  At one time Sottomarina was famous for its soil quality that is particularly suitable for the growing of vegetables, today this area is appreciated for its fine sand that is rich with minerals. Sottomarina is a destination for families to enjoy peacefulness areas suitable for children play on the beach. There are a lot of places to stay and many different activities: parks, structures for volley ball, basket ball, tennis, small harbours, canoeing, centres where visitors can rent windsurfs, and horseback riding schools.

The beach itself and sea flood makes a gradual slope, 100 to 200 meters off shore you will find the depth to be only about 1.5 meters during low tide. This makes the area great for open water swimming and safe for young kids to play in the water.  Further, off-shore the seabed offers SCUBA divers a few unique excursions. There are the tegnùe, small natural reefs that are made up of organisms such as calcareous red algae and a large variety of life forms that populate this seabed.  There are also a few wrecks to dive with most being no deeper than 20 meters.  

Visitors should also go and see the nearby town of Chioggia, a small Venice with streets and canals, palaces and churches and houses with typical chimneys that recall the places told in Goldoni's plays.

The Adriatic Sea

ADRIATIC SEA | ITALY

adriatic sea

The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula and the Apennine Mountains from the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest and the Po Valley. The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Italy, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia.

The Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along its eastern, Croatian, coast. It is divided into three basins, the northern being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a maximum depth of . The Otranto Sill, an underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait along the western (Italian) coast. Tidal movements in the Adriatic are slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally.

The Adriatic's salinity is lower than the Mediterranean's because the Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the Mediterranean, acting as a dilution basin. The surface water temperatures generally range from 25 C in summer to 9 C in winter, significantly moderating the Adriatic Basin's climate.

The Adriatic Sea sits on the Apulian or Adriatic Microplate, which separated from the African Plate in the Mesozoic era. The plate's movement contributed to the formation of the surrounding mountain chains and Apennine tectonic uplift after its collision with the Eurasian plate. In the Late Oligocene, the Apennine Peninsula first formed, separating the Adriatic Basin from the rest of the Mediterranean. All types of sediment are found in the Adriatic, with the bulk of the material transported by the Po and other rivers on the western coast. The western coast is alluvial or terraced, while the eastern coast is highly indented with pronounced karstification.

There are dozens of marine protected areas in the Adriatic, designed to protect the sea's karst habitats and biodiversity. The sea is abundant in flora and fauna—more than 7,000 species are identified as native to the Adriatic, many of them endemic, rare and threatened ones.

The Adriatic's shores are populated by more than 3.5 million people; the largest cities are Bari, Venice, Trieste and Split. The earliest settlements on the Adriatic shores were Etruscan, Illyrian, and Greek. By the 2nd century BC, the shores were under Rome's control. In the Middle Ages, the Adriatic shores and the sea itself were controlled, to a varying extent, by a series of states—most notably the Byzantine Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. The Napoleonic Wars resulted in the First French Empire gaining coastal control and the British effort to counter the French in the area, ultimately securing most of the eastern Adriatic shore and the Po Valley for Austria. Following Italian unification, the Kingdom of Italy started an eastward expansion that lasted until the 20th century. Following World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, the eastern coast's control passed to Yugoslavia and Albania. The former disintegrated in the 1990s, resulting in four new states on the Adriatic coast. Italy and Yugoslavia agreed on their maritime boundaries by 1975 and this boundary is recognised by Yugoslavia's successor states, but the maritime boundaries between Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian–Herzegovinian and Montenegrin waters are disputed. Italy and Albania agreed on their maritime boundary in 1992. Fisheries and tourism are significant sources of income all along the Adriatic coast.

Adriatic Croatia's tourism industry has grown faster economically than the rest of the Adriatic Basin's. Maritime transport is also a significant branch of the area's economy—there are 19 seaports in the Adriatic that each handle more than a million tonnes of cargo per year. The largest Adriatic seaport by annual cargo turnover is the Port of Trieste, while the Port of Split is the largest Adriatic seaport by passengers served per year.

The Geography of Italy

GEOGRAPHY OF ITALY

geography of italy

Italy is located in southern Europe and comprises the short, sandal-shaped Italian Peninsula, the land between the peninsula and the Alps, and a number of islands including Sicily and Sardinia. Corsica is often mistaken to be an Italian island but in fact has been a part of France since 1769. Italy's total area is 301,230 square kilometres (116,310 sq mi), of which 294,020 km2 (113,520 sq mi) is land and 7,210 km2 is water (2,784 sq mi). Italy borders with Switzerland (740 km/460 mi), France (488 km/303 mi), Austria (430 km/270 mi) and Slovenia (232 km/144 mi).  The indepentant states of San Marino (39 km/24 mi) and Vatican city (0.44 km/0.27 mi) are both entirely surrounded by Italy. Including islands, Italy has a coastline of 7,600 kilometres (4,700 mi) on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian and Ligurian Sea. Highest peak in Italy is Mont Blanc, at 4,810 metres (15,780 ft) above sea level.

MOUNTAINS OF ITALY

Italy is a mountainous country: with the Alps as the northern boundary and the Apennine Mountains forming the backbone of the peninsula, but in between the two lies a large plain in the valley of the Po, the largest river in Italy, which flows 652 km (405 mi) eastward from the Cottian Alps to the Adriatic. Worldwide-known mountains in Italy are Matterhorn (Cervino), Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso in the West Alps, and Bernina, Stelvio and Dolomites along the eastern side of the Alps.

italian alps

italian dolomites

 

prealps italy

 

apennine mountains of italy

ISLANDS OF ITALY

Several islands form part of Italy. The largest are Sicily 25,708 km2 (9,926 sq mi) and Sardinia 24,090 km2 (9,301 sq mi). The third island is Elba, the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago (224 km2/86 sq mi).

islands of italy

LAKES OF ITALY

In the north of the country are a number of subalpine lakes, the largest of which is Lake Garda (370 km2/143 sq mi). Other well known of these subalpine lakes are Lake Maggiore (212.5 km2/82 sq mi), whose most northerly section is part of Switzerland, and Lake Como (146 km2/56 sq mi).

lakes of italy

RIVERS OF ITALY

Most of Italy's rivers drain either into the Adriatic Sea: (like Po, Piave, Brenta, Adige, and Reno) or into the Thyrrenian (like Arno, Tiber and Volturno), though the waters from some border municipalities, (Livigno in Lombardy Region, Innichen and Sexten in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) drain into the Black Sea through the basin of the Drava, a tributary of the Danube, and the waters from the Lago di Lei in Lombardy drain into the North Sea through the basin of the Rhine.

rivers of italy

 

 

The Ionian Sea

IONIAN SEA | ITALY

ionian sea

The Ionian Sea is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bordered by southern Italy including the Calabria Region, Sicily, and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and west coast of Greece. All major islands in the sea belong to Greece. They are collectively referred to as the Ionian Islands, the major ones being Corfu, Zakynthos, Kephalonia, Ithaca, and Lefkada. There are ferry routes between Patras and Igoumenitsa, Greece, and Brindisi and Ancona, Italy, that cross the east and north of the Ionian Sea, and from Piraeus westward. Calypso Deep, the deepest point in the Mediterranean at , is located in the Ionian Sea. The sea is one of the most seismically active areas in the world.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Ionian Sea as follows: :On the North. A line running from the mouth of the Butrinto River (39°44'N) in Albania, to Cape Karagol in Corfu (39°45'N), along the North Coast of Corfu to Cape Kephali (39°45'N) and from thence to Cape Santa Maria di Leuca in Italy. :On the East. From the mouth of the Butrinto River in Albania down the coast of the mainland to Cape Matapan. :On the South. A line from Cape Matapan to Cape Passero, the Southern point of Sicily. :On the West. The East coast of Sicily and the Southeast coast of Italy to Cape Santa Maria di Leuca.

The Lakes in Italy

LAKES OF ITALY

Lake Garda Italy

Italy has more than 1,000 lakes, most of these are artificial that have been created by damming river valleys. 

In the Prealps of the Lombardy region are the glacial lakes of: Lago Maggiore and Lago Como (Como is the deepest lake in Italy at 410 meter). In the Veneto Region is Lago Garda, Italy's largest lake and one of the best outdoor recreation destinations.

Italy also has coastal lakes, such as Lago Lesina, separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land. Volcanic lakes of Lago Bolsena, Lago Vico, and Lago Bracciano. Lago Trasimeno in the Umbria Region and formed by a land depression.

One must remember that at one time swamps and ponds covered most of flat areas of Italy, these have been drained over the last few hundred years.  There are wetlands left over from these projects; some of the better know are Valli di Comacchio in the Emilia Romagna Region and the Cagliari lagetto in theSardinia Region.

Italian Coastal lagoons are also found at the mouths of many of major rivers  the most importance is the Venetian lagoon in the northern Adriatic, the Lagoon of Orbetello on the Tuscan coast.

LAKES OF ITALY

Tyrrhenian Sea

TYRRHENIAN SEA

tyrrhenian sea

The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy. It is named for the Tyrrhenian people, identified since the 6th century BC with the Etruscans of Italy. The sea is bordered by Corsica and Sardinia (to the west), the Italian peninsula the Tuscany Region, Lazio Region, Campania Region, Basilicata Region, and Calabria Region to the east, and Sicily (to the south). The Tyrrhenian Sea is situated near where the African and European Plates meet; therefore mountain chains and active volcanoes such as Mount Marsili are found in its depths. The eight Aeolian Islands and Ustica are located in the southern part of the sea, north of Sicily.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Tyrrhenian Sea as follows: In the Strait of Messina: A line joining the North extreme of Cape Paci (15°42′E) with the East extreme of the Island of Sicily, Cape Peloro (38°16′N). On the Southwest: A line running from Cape Lilibeo (West extreme of Sicily) to the South extreme of Cape Teulada (8°38′E) in Sardinia. In the Strait of Bonifacio: A line joining the West extreme of Cape Testa (41°14′N) in Sardinia with the Southwest extreme of Cape Feno (41°23′N) in Corsica. On the North: A line joining Cape Corse (Cape Grosso, 9°23′E) in Corsica, with Tinetto Island and thence through Tino and Palmaria islands to San Pietro Point on the coast of Italy.

The main ports of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Italy are: Naples, Palermo, Civitavecchia ( Rome), Salerno, Trapani and Gioia Tauro. In France the most important port is Bastia. Note that even though the phrase "port of Rome" is frequently used, there is in fact no port in Rome. Instead, the "port of Rome" refers to the maritime facilities at Civitavecchia, to the northwest of Rome, not too far from its airport. Giglio Porto is a small island port in this area. It rose to prominence, when the Costa Concordia ran aground a few metres off the coast of Giglio and sank. The ship was recently removed and towed to Genoa.

In Greek mythology, it is believed that the cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea housed the four winds kept by Aeolus. Homer referred to this in his adventure of the Odessey. The winds are the Mistral from the Rhône valley, the Libeccio from the south-west, and the Sirocco and Ostro from the south.

Val di Merse | Tuscany Region

VAL DI MERSE | TUSCANY

river merse

Val di Merse is one of the regions of the province of Siena, in Tuscany, on the border with the Upper Maremma. The territory comprises the area between the rivers Farma and Merse. Notable monuments in the area include the Abbey of San Galgano. Villages in the region include Monticiano, Chiusdino, Murlo, Vescovado and Sovicille. The hot springs of Bagni di Petriolo are also in the region.

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