- NORTHERN ITALY
- CENTRAL ITALY
- SOUTHERN ITALY
- INSULAR ITALY
The Apuan Alps are a mountain range that extends between the Garfagnana, Versilia and Carrara, with peaks that reach two thousand metres. The highest peak is that of Monte Pisanino, with its 1946 meters.
With their wild nature and fantastic sea view, the Apuan Alps are a true masterpiece of nature. Here is Monte Forato, a mountain with a large arch that connects two peaks, thus creating a"hole", visible both from the sea side and from the internal one of the Garfagnana. Here are also the Marmitte dei Giganti, deep circular depressions in the rocks, which arise from the fluvial erosion of places previously covered by glaciers.
Furthermore, the Apuan Alps hide more than a thousand karst caves, such as the Antro del Corchia, which is the largest karst complex in Europe, and the spectacular Grotta del Vento.
Finally, it is from here that the precious Carrara marble is extracted, used for the construction of important buildings and monuments in the world, since Roman times. There are numerous cathedrals and sculptures created with the use of this famous marble, the quality of which is recognized throughout the world.
In addition to its unique constitution in the world and a nature rich in animal and plant species, among these mountains there are also pretty villages such as that of Isola Santa.
Isola Santa is a small village with a few houses and a delightful little church and overlooks an artificial lake that will fascinate you with its fantastic emerald green colour. The town remains somewhat hidden from the road and does not have a large car park. However you will be amazed by this small fairytale village.
There are two ways to access the town to visit it, but the best point to see it is from the dam, from which the path also starts to reach other places in the Apuan Alps, such as Col di Favilla in about 1 hour or Levigliani in about 3 hours. Taking another direction, however, it is possible to reach the Pania della Croce peak, reaching an altitude of 1858 metres.
Taking the opposite path, however, you can reach Monte Sumbra or the Marmitte dei Giganti, deep circular depressions in the rocks, which arise from the fluvial erosion of places previously covered by glaciers.
Levigliani is a small village located in the province of Lucca, on the slopes of Monte Corchia and in a central position in the Apuan Alps. Mainly known for being the starting point for exploring the Antro del Corchia, the largest karst cave in Europe, in this town it will also be possible to visit the Quicksilver mines, for the extraction of mercury. A walk through the narrow streets of this 18th century village will also be pleasant.
The village is well organized and, at the end of the main road, has a tourist office for access to the well-known caves and other information.
Finally, by lengthening the journey to the north, it will also be possible to access the marble quarries of Monte Corchia, which can also be seen in the distance from the town. Alternatively, you can take the paths that lead to the Garfagnana side.
Known since the 19th century by the inhabitants of the area who used it as a natural refrigerator, the Grotta del Vento has been the subject of various scientific expeditions which have led to the discovery of over 4 kilometers of cave. The name Grotta del Vento is due to the strong wind that can be felt at its entrance, which can even exceed 40 kilometers per hour. The cave is characterized by a great variety of phenomena linked to underground karst phenomena such as stalactites, stalagmites, small lakes, streams and vertical wells, which can be visited by following a series of itineraries and with guided tours.
It is located near Fornovolasco, on the slope of Vergemoli and Gallicano, in Garfagnana.
The fame of the Apuan Alps has always been linked to that of its marvelous white Carrara marble. Today the quarries are one of the main attractions of the sea side of the Apuan Alps. Here there are three marble basins that can be visited: Colonnata, Fantiscritti and Torano. The best known of these are the Cave di Fantiscritti, which take their name from a bas-relief from the Roman era where deities are represented with a dedication in Latin.
An interesting museum is located at the Quarries of Fantiscritti Quarry Museum Fantiscritti dedicated to the history of mining activity and extraction techniques.
The side of the Garfagnana is also rich in marble and there are numerous marble quarries, such as the aforementioned Monte Corchia quarry.
Colonnata is a small village located above Carrara, about 7 kilometers in the Apuan Alps, renowned for the" lardo di Colonnata", a salami typical of this area, and for Carrara marble.
Along the road between Carrara and Colonnata, in fact, it will be possible to see numerous marble quarries, as well as visit the numerous marble souvenir shops. To notice the richness of marble in the place, it will be enough to look along the roadside, up to a large parking lot. From here the shuttle will leave for the town, about half a kilometer away.
Castelnuovo di Garfagnana is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is a stop not to be missed during a tour in these parts. In addition to being a small medieval center very well preserved, it offers a beautiful view of the Apuan Alps.
The car can be parked in a square near the Torrione San Pietro, outside Porta Nuova, which will be the access to the historic centre. The town is totally surrounded by walls and can be visited in a couple of hours, but so full of things that it would be ideal to stay for at least half a day.
There are numerous tourist attractions, ranging from the Rocca di Castiglione to religious buildings, such as the Church of Saints Michael and Peter(simply called the Church of San Michele) and the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.
It is interesting to walk along the outside of the walls, passing through Porta Inferi. In fact, near this gate, there is the Parco della Rimembranza, a lovely garden that offers a beautiful panorama towards the Apuan Alps.
Barga is a beautiful village of historical importance. Inhabited since Roman times, it had its maximum expression in the Middle Ages and this prestige can be seen from the Cathedral of Barga(or Cathedral of San Cristoforo) and the Palazzo del Podestà. In particular, the cathedral has a Romanesque structure dating back to the 10th century. From here it will be possible to see the town from above and a beautiful panorama of the Apuan Alps, thanks to its elevated position and the surrounding gardens.
Gallicano is a beautiful village of medieval origin, located in an excellent position, between woods and valleys, at the foot of the Pania della Croce. In the town there is the castle, the Rocca Estense, a beautiful town hall and some churches such as the Church of San Jacopo, the Church of San Giovanni Battista and that of Santa Lucia. The best time of year to visit Gallicano is on the occasion of the Palio di San Jacopo, which is held every year on July 25th for the feast of San Jacopo, the patron saint of Gallicano. On the occasion of the palio, the three districts of the town parade through the streets of the village and are evaluated by a jury who will award the winning district.