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 of the valley below Papavero with the 
 Alps behind

The ideal place for a perfect tuscany villa holiday - a beautifully restored historic farmhouse, set in the unspoilt countryside of Lunigiana

The Apuane Alps

Tuscany Villa Holiday>In Lunigiana>Walking & Climbing>The Apuane Alps

The Apuane Alps extend over a distance of 40km, paralleling the coast between La Spezia and Lucca. They form a spectacular backdrop to the many beaches along this stretch of coastline.

They are mainly composed of limestone laid down in an ancient sea over 250 million years ago. As with the central European Alps and the Appennines they rose from the sea as a result of collisions between the African and European tectonic plates.

During their formation they suffered a particularly complex sequence of forces and dislocations which resulted in the formation of large deposits of marble, as well as forging their characteristically craggy structure. This Apuane marble has been quarried for many centuries and has always been a significant source of employment and wealth. The quality of the marble is such that Michelangelo chose it for many of his works.

Tuscany Villa Holiday - In Lunigiana - Walking 
 & Climbing - Apuane1

Tuscany Villa Holiday - In Lunigiana - Walking 
 & Climbing - Apuane2

This mountain range offers enormous diversity for the walker/climber. It rises to a maximum altitude of 1947m in the form of the very steep, but largely grassy sided, Monte Pisanino. On the other hand, Monte Sumbra (1764m) has rounded rocky shoulders, whereas Monte Cavallo (1888m) has limestone columns jutting into the sky, more reminiscent of the mighty Dolomites. On its northern side Pizzo d'Uccello (1781m) has an impressive 700m high, rock face.

The mountain range is comprehensively served by refuges, footpaths, tracks and climbs which are well maintained by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI). There are also extensive via ferrata climbs of all grades and lengths, many of which can be incorporated as optional extras into challenging day walks. These features are also well documented on a variety of maps at both 1:50,000 and 1:25,000.

Tuscany Villa Holiday - In Lunigiana - Walking 
 & Climbing - Apuane3 Tuscany Villa Holiday - In Lunigiana - Walking 
 & Climbing - Apuane4

There are also a number of long distance paths. The classic traverse of the range takes four days, from Equi Terme to Stazzema, staying overnight in the refuges of the CAI. A lower altitude, easier and shorter route is known as the Via Vendelli, a historic bridleway built as a trade route by the abbot Domenico Vandelli in the 18C between Modena and Massa. This can be traversed in a single but strenuous day.

The Apuane Alps are also a paradise for cavers, containing over 1300 caves, spread throughout the region. The Antro del Corchia cave system has over 70 km of caves and tunnels with levels varying by more than 1200m. It is the biggest in Italy and is famous throughout the world. The Buca di Egui caves are open to the public and are noted for artefacts and animal remains from the Paleoithic age.

Tuscany Villa Holiday - In Lunigiana - Walking 
 & Climbing - Antro del Corchia1 Tuscany Villa holiday - In lunigiana - Walking 
 & Climbing - Antro del Corchia2

During the latter years of World War 2 the region was at the centre of German fortifications to prevent the Allies moving northwards, known as the Gothic Line. Some of these fortifications are still visible today, and numerous war cemeteries and memorials serve as reminders of the human cost. The Apuane Alps were a hiding place for Italian resistance fighters trying to rid Italy of the retreating German presence.

The mountain range was declared a Regional Park in 1985, the Parco del Apuane. The park authorities have the difficult job of protecting the landscape, rivers, flora, fauna, geological sites etc. whilst still supporting the essential industries of tourism and marble quarrying. There are a variety of web sites associated with the Park but most are in Italian OK if you speak Italian or have language translation built into your web explorer software. (If so, try Alpi Apuane, ParcApuane, Parks ).

Local visitor centres can be found in Castelnuovo Garfagnana on the north side of the mountains, and in Forno & Seravezza on the south side.

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