|Countries||Italy, San Marino|
|Highest point||Corno Grande (Big Horn)|
|- elevation||2,912 m (9,554 ft)|
|Length||1,200 km (746 mi), northwest to southeast|
|Width||250 km (155 mi), southwest to northeast|
|Geology||Apennine fold and thrust belt|
|Period||Mesozoic for formation of rock,
Neogene-Quarternary for orogeny
Relief of the Appennines
The Apennines or Apennine Mountains (Greek: Ἀπέννινα Ὄρη, Latin: Appenninus or Apenninus Mons — a singular used in the plural;[note 1] Italian: Appennini) are a mountain range consisting of parallel smaller chains extending c. 1,200 km (750 mi) along the length of peninsular Italy. In the northwest they join with the Ligurian Alps at Altare. In the southwest they end at Reggio di Calabria, the coastal city at the tip of the peninsula. Since about 2000 the Ministry of the Environment of Italy, following the recommendations of the Apennines Park of Europe Project, has been defining the Appennines System to include the mountains of north Sicily, for a total distance of 1,500 kilometres (930 mi). The system forms an arc enclosing the east side of the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas.
The etymology most frequently repeated, because of its semantic appropriateness, is that it derives from the Celtic Penn, "mountain, summit": A-penn-inus, which could have been assigned during the Celtic domination of north Italy in the 4th century BC or before. The name originally applied to the north Apennines. However, historical linguists have never found a derivation with which they are universally comfortable. Wilhelm Deecke said:[note 2] "...its etymology is doubtful but some derive it from the Ligurian-Celtish Pen or Ben, which means mountain peak."
The mountains lend their name to the Apennine peninsula, which forms the major part of Italy. They are mostly verdant, although one side of the highest peak, Corno Grande is partially covered by Calderone glacier, the southernmost glacier in Europe and the only one in the Apennines. It has been receding since 1794. The southern mountains are semi-arid. The eastern slopes down to the Adriatic Sea are steep, while the western slopes form foothills on which most of peninsular Italy's cities are located. The mountains tend to be named from the province or provinces in which they are located; for example, the Ligurian Apennines are in Liguria. As the provincial borders have not always been stable, this practice has resulted in some confusion about exactly where the montane borders are. Often but not always a geographical feature can be found that lends itself to being a border.
A number of long hiking trails wind through the Apennines. Of note is European walking route E1 coming from northern Europe and traversing the lengths of the northern and central Apennines. The Grand Italian Trail begins in Trieste and after winding through the Alpine arc traverses the entire Apennine system, Sicily and Sardinia.
The Ligurian Apennines border the Ligurian Sea in the Gulf of Genoa, from about Savona below the upper Bormida River valley to about Spezia (La Cisa pass) below the upper Magra River valley. The range follows the Gulf of Genoa separating it from the upper Po Valley. The northwestern border follows the line of the Bormida River to Acqui Terme. There the river continues northeast to Alessandria in the Po Valley, but the mountains bend away to the southeast.
The upper Bormida can be reached by a number of roads proceeding inland at a right angle to the coast southwest of Savona, the chief one being the Autostrada Torino-Savona. They ascend to the Bocchetta di Altare, sometimes called Colle di Cadibona, 436 m (1,430 ft), the border between the Ligurian Alps along the coast to the west and the Ligurian Apennines. A bronze plaque fixed to a stone marks the top of the pass. In the vicinity are fragments of the old road and three ruins of former fortifications.
At Carcare, the main roads connect with the upper Bormida valley (Bormida di Millare) before turning west. The Scrivia, the Trebbia the Taro and the Tanaro (Tanarus), tributaries of the Po River, drain the northeast slopes. The range contains dozens of peaks. Toward the southern end the Aveto Natural Regional Park includes Monte Penna. Nearby is the highest point of Ligurian Apennines, Monte Maggiorasca at 1,780 m (5,840 ft).
The main and only feasible overland route connecting the coastal plain of Liguria to the north Italian plain runs through Bocchetta di Altare. It has always been of strategic importance. Defenders of north Italy have had to control it since ancient times, as the various fortifications placed there testify. Currently however, Trenitalia, the state railway system, highly developed on the coastal plain, traverses the mountains routinely through a number of railway tunnels, such as the one at Giovi Pass.
The southeastern border of the Ligurian Apennines is the Fiume Magra, which projects into the Tyrrhenian Sea south of Spezia, and the Fiume Taro, which runs in the opposite direction to join the Po River. The divide between the two upper river valleys is the Passo della Cisa, "Cisa Pass." Under it (two tunnels) runs the Autostrada della Cisa between Spezia and Parma.
Starting at Cisa Pass, the mountain chains turn further to the southeast to cross the peninsula along the border between the Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany regions, for which they are named the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, or just the Tuscan Apennines. They extend to the upper Tiber River. The high point is Monte Cimone at 2,165 m (7,103 ft).
A separate branch, the Alpi Apuane, goes to the southwest bordering the coast south of Spezia. Whether they are to be considered part of the Apennines is a matter of opinion; certainly, they are part of the Apennine System. Topographically only the valley of the River Serchio, which running parallel to the coast turns and exits into the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Pisa, separates the Apuane Alps from the Apennines; geologically the rock is of a slightly different composition: marble. The Roman marble industry was centered at Carrara.
As the Tuscan Apennines divide the peninsula between the Po Valley and the plains and hills of Tuscany and Lazio, transportation over them is essential to political and economic unity. Historically the Romans used the Via Flaminia between Rome and Rimini. The montane distance between Florence in Tuscany and Bologna in Emilia-Romagna is shorter, but exploitation of it required the conquest of more rugged terrain, which was not feasible for the ancients. Railway lines were constructed over the mountains in the early 19th century but they were of low capacity and unimprovable.
Since 1856 a series of tunnels have been constructed to conduct "the Bologna-Florence rail line", which is neither a single line nor a single tunnel. The Porrettana Line went into service in 1864, the Direttissima in 1934 and the High Speed in 1996. A few dozen tunnels support the three of them, the longest on the High-Speed Line being the Voglia Tunnel at 16.757 km (10.412 mi). The longest is on the Direttissima, the Great Apennine Tunnel, whch at 18.5 km (11.5 mi) is the longest entirely within Italy, although the Simplon Tunnel, which connects Italy and Switzerland, is longer.[note 3] Currently automobile traffic is carried by the Autostrada del Sole, Route A1, which goes through numerous shorter tunnels, bypassing an old road, originally Roman, through Futa Pass.
The southernmost limit of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines is approximately Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna National Park. The three-way intersection of the borders between Emilia-Romana, Toscana and Marche is on the south slopes of Monte Fumaiola, from which the Tiber originates. The mountain is the furthest south of Emilia-Romana.
The Tiber River at Rome flows from northeast to southwest, projecting into the Tyrrhenian Sea at right angles to the shore. The upper Tiber, however, flows from northwest to southeast, gradually turning through one right angle clockwise. In the north Val Tevere ("Valley of the Tiber") is a deep valley separating the Umbrian Apennines on the left bank from a lesser range, the Tuscan Anti- or Sub-Apennines on its right. They and some of Val Tevere are part of Toscana, which formerly was enclosed by the Arno River, the Tiber River and the coast, but has lost ground around the Tiber to Lazio and Umbria. Lazio extends a little way up the Tiber. Val Tevere, however, is mainly in Umbria. In the Apennines also and on the west coast is Marche.
The Val Tevere is marked on the map by Highway A1, the Autostrada del Sole, which enters it in the vicinity of Monte Rotondo north of Rome and follows the course of the river to the point where the latter flows from Lago di Cabara in the vicinity of Baschi and then goes up the valley of the Fiume Paglia. North of the lake the course of the Fiume Tevere is marked by Highway E45 almost to where the Tevere begins at Falera on the slopes of Monte Fumaiolo. That location is in Emilia-Romagna. For that entire distance the eastern slopes of the Apennines are in Marche.[note 4]
South of Monte Fumaiolo the Tevere enters Toscana. It crosses the Umbrian border in the vicinity of San Giustino and remains in it, becoming part of the border between Umbria and Lazio in the south, entering Lazio unequivocally in the vicinity of Castello delle Formiche. Over the centuries these borders have varied, mainly at the expense of Toscana. Consequently there has been considerable imprecision in locating the Umbrian Apennines, and therefore the highest peak in them. The major difficulty is discriminating the Umbrian of the Northern Apennines from the Umbrian-Marchigian of the Central Apennines. The mountains of Umbria and Marche are so wide and so tangled, rather than parallel, that the borders are difficult to place and vary according to author. Many do not make the distinction, but one is still recognized, however uncertainly, by the Italian park service. In general, the Umbrian Apennines are located mainly in Umbria, while the great mass of mountains in Marche are considered Central Apennine.
Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary defines the Umbrian Apennines to extend from the "sources of the Tiber" to Scheggia Pass, bounded on the east by the border between Umbria and Marche, which runs along the divide. Similarly the Alto Tevere begins near the border between Toscana and Emilia-Romagna. The pass is the point where the Roman Via Flaminia crosses the divide, at 575 metres (1,886 ft). Starting from Rimini on the Adriatic coast the old road follows the coast south to Fano, then turns inland and goes up the Fiume Metauro to Ponti di Traiano, then up the Fiume Candigliano to Acqualagna, and by the Fiume Burano to Cagli (ancient Cales). Here the Via Flaminia turns south, approximated today by highway SP3, which climbing the flanks of Monte Fiume arrives at last at the pass. This is the southernmost limit of the Umbrian Apennines, according to the dictionary. The pass goes down to Gualdo Tadino (Tadinium). Gubbio is east of the Val Tevere.
The region specified by the dictionary includes Monte Nerone, 1,526 m (5,007 ft), which is actually in Marche. South of the pass the same chain is in Umbria and includes a number of parklands considered by the Italians to be in the northern Apennines. The LOTO Project (Landscape Opportunities for Territorial Organization), a recent pilot study for regional landscape planning undertaken by the European Institute of Cultural Routes, an agency of the European Union, simply calls it "the Apennine Ridge" of "the Umbria Region," which it locates in "the central and northern mountains of the Apennines." The western part of this range is considered by some to be the Umbrian Apennines; it includes Parco del Monte Cucco, 1,566 m (5,138 ft), which includes the pass, the road and the Umbrian side of the ridge south to Fossato di Vico. Further south are Parco del Monte Subasio around Assisi and Parco di Colfiorito on the border with Marche.
The Apennine System forms an irregular arc with centers of curvature located in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The northern and southern segments comprise parallel chains that can be viewed as single overall mountain ridges, such as the Ligurian Mountains. The center, being thicker and more complex, is geologically divided into an inner and an outer arc with regard to the centers of curvature. The geologic definition, however, is not the same as the geographic.
Based on rock type and orogenic incidents, the northern segment of the arc is divided into the Outer Northern Apennines (ONA) and the Inner Northern Apennines (INA). The inner are located in Toscana and Umbria and correspond well with the geography, comprising the Alpi Apuane and Umbrian Apennines. The outer comprise the outer Ligurian, Tuscan-Emilian and half the Central Apennines, which are the eastern half of the divide marked by the Umbria-Marche border. The Central Apennines, also called the High Apennines, are therefore divided into the Umbria-Marche (Italian: Appennino Umbro-Marchigiano) or Roman Apennines in the north and the Abruzzi Apennines (Italian: Appennino Abruzzese) in the south.
A natural border exists between the Northern Apennines and the Central Apennines: a klippen zone, or band of isolated Liguride rocks, follows the Val Marecchia ("Valley of the Marecchia River") to the Marche-Toscana border and passes through the Monti Rognosi and Arezzo in Toscana. If extended the line would touch the northern tip of Corsica, but it is only relevant on the east slopes of the Apennines, where it is located just south of the border between Marche and Emilia-Romana. The west border of the Umbria-Marche Apennines runs through Cagli. They extend south to the Tronto River, the south border of the ONA.
In the northeast of the range, the Republic of San Marino is located on the slopes of Monte Titano. The highest peak, Monte Vettore, at 2,478 m (8,130 ft), is part of the Monti Sibillini, incorporated into Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini. Further inland is Parco Sasso Simone e Simoncello and further south Parco naturale regionale Gola della Rossa di Frasassi, in which are the Gola della Rossa ("Canyon of the Red") and Frasassi Caves. The Italian Park Service calls it the "Green Heart" of Italy.
In the southern Apennines, to the south of the Sangro valley, the three parallel chains are broken up into smaller groups; among them may be named the Matese, the highest point of which is the Monte Miletto (2,050 m). The chief rivers on the south-west are the Liri or Garigliano with its tributary the Sacco, the Volturno, Sebeto, Sarno, on the north the Trigno, Biferno and Fortore.
The promontory of Monte Gargano, on the east, is completely isolated, and so are the Campanian volcanic arc near Naples. The district is traversed from north-west to south-east by the railway from Sulmona to Benevento and on to Avellino, and from south-west to northeast by the railways from Caianello via Isernia to Campobasso and Termoli, from Caserta to Benevento and Foggia, and from Nocera Inferiore and Avellino to Rocchetta S. Antonio, the junction for Foggia, Spinazzola (for Barletta, Bari, and Taranto) and Potenza. Roman roads followed the same lines as the railways: the Via Appia ran from Capua to Benevento, whence the older road went to Venosa and Taranto and so to Brindisi, while the Via Traiana ran nearly to Foggia and thence to Bari.
The valley of the Ofanto, which runs into the Adriatic close to Barletta, marks the northern termination of the first range of the Lucanian Apennines (now Basilicata), which runs from east to west, while south of the valleys of the Sele (on the west) and Basento (on the east) - which form the line followed by the railway from Battipaglia via Potenza to Metaponto - the second range begins to run due north and south as far as the plain of Sibari. The highest point is the Monte Pollino (2,248 m). The chief rivers are the Sele - joined by the Negro and Calore - on the west, and the Bradano, Basento, Agri, Sinni on the east, which flow into the gulf of Taranto; to the south of the last-named river there are only unimportant streams flowing into the sea east and west, inasmuch as here the width of the peninsula diminishes to some 60 km.
The railway running south from Sicignano to Lagonegro, ascending the valley of the Negro, is planned to extend to Cosenza, along the line followed by the ancient Via Popilia, which beyond Cosenza reached the west coast at Terina and thence followed it to Reggio. The Via Herculia, a branch of the Via Traiana, ran from Aequum Tuticum to the ancient Nerulum. At the narrowest point the plain of Sibari, through which the rivers Coscile and Crati flow to the sea, occurs on the east coast, extending halfway across the peninsula. Here the limestone Apennines proper cease and the granite mountains of Calabria begin.
The first group extends as far as the isthmus formed by the gulfs of S. Eufemia and Squillace; it is known as the Sila, and the highest point reached is 1,928 m (the Botte Donato). The forests which covered it in ancient times supplied the Greeks and Sicilians with timber for shipbuilding. The railway from S. Eufemia to Catanzaro and Catanzaro Marina crosses the isthmus, and an ancient road may have run from Squillace to Monteleone. The second group extends to the south end of the Italian peninsula, culminating in the Aspromonte (1,956 m) to the east of Reggio di Calabria. In both groups the rivers are quite unimportant.
The tree line in the Apennines can be found in the range 1,900 m (6,200 ft) to 2,000 m (6,600 ft). About 5% of the map area covered by the Apennines is at or above the tree line; i.e., is in the treeline ecotone. The snow line is at about 3,200 m (10,500 ft); that is, all the Apennines are below it, except for the one remaining glacier. Snow may fall from October to May. Rainfall increases with latitude. The climate is suboceanic.
The number of vascular plant species in the Apennines has been estimated at 5599, 728 of which (23.6%) are in the treeline ecotone. Hemicryptophytes predominate in the entire Apennine chain. The treeline ecotone is mainly grasslands, with scrub below it.
The range characteristically consists of limestone and related sedimentary rock strata believed to have been uplifted near the end of the Cretaceous era when the African plate began to gently collide with the eastern part of the European plate. The same tectonic episode also formed the Alps. The Apennines strata are of particular significance in oceanic anoxic events studies, having triggered off a three-decades-long series of research when a metre thick band of black shale matched core sample from the Pacific ocean signalling a worldwide event.
The Apennines are an ancient continuation of the Alpine chain, but are now mostly representative of a large accretionary wedge located ahead of what appears to be a shifting subduction zone in which the African Plate is descending beneath the Eurasian Plate. Research is intense and ongoing, but a clear picture of what is actually occurring, not just in the Apennines, but throughout the Mediterranean basin remains to be explained.
The Briançonnais zone of the Alps may be followed as far as the Gulf of Genoa, but scarcely beyond, unless it is represented by the Trias and older beds of the Apuan Alps. The inner zone of crystalline rocks which forms the central chains of the Alps, is absent in the Apennines except towards the southern end.
The Apennines, indeed, consist almost entirely of Mesozoic and Tertiary sedimentary rocks, like the outer zones of the Alps. Fragments of a former inner zone of Hercynian basement rocks may be seen in the Apuan Alps, in the islands off the Tuscan coast; in the Catena Metallifera, Cape Circeo and the island of Zannone, as well as in the Calabrian peninsula. These remnants lie at a comparatively low level, and excepting the Apuan Alps and the Calabrian peninsula do not now form any part of the Apennine chains.
The existence of high interior zone of crystalline rocks before the Quaternary is indicated by the character of the Eocene beds in the southern Apennines. These are formed to a large extent of thick conglomerates which are full of pebbles and boulders of granite and schist. Many of the boulders are of considerable size and they are often still angular. There is now no crystalline region from which they could reach their present position; and this and other considerations have led the followers of Eduard Suess to conclude that even in Tertiary times a large land mass consisting of ancient rocks occupied the space which is now covered by the southern portion of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
This old land mass has been called Tyrrhenis, and probably extended from Sicily into Latium and as far west as Sardinia. On the Italian border of this land there was raised a mountain chain with an inner crystalline zone and an outer zone of Mesozoic and Tertiary beds. Subsequent faulting has caused the subsidence of the greater part of Tyrrhenis, including nearly the whole of the inner zone of the mountain chain, and has left only the outer zones standing as the present Apennines.
Be this as it may, the Apennines, excepting in Calabria, are formed chiefly of Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Eocene and Miocene beds. In the south the deposits, from the Trias to the middle Eocene, consist mainly of limestones, and were laid down, with a few slight interruptions, upon a quietly subsiding seafloor. In the later part of the Eocene period began the folding which gave rise to the existing chain. The sea grew shallow, the deposits became conglomeratic and shaly, volcanic eruptions began, and the present folds of the Apennines were initiated.
The folding and consequent elevation went on until the close of the Miocene period when a considerable subsidence took place and the Pliocene sea overspread the lower portions of the range. Subsequent elevation, without folding, has raised these Pliocene deposits to a considerable height - in some cases over 1,000 m and they now lie almost undisturbed upon the older folded beds. This last elevation led to the formation of numerous lakes which are now filled up by Pleistocene deposits. Both volcanic eruptions and movements of elevation and depression continue to the present day on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
In the northern Apennines the elevation of the sea floor appears to have begun at an earlier period, for the Upper Cretaceous of that part of the chain consists largely of sandstones and conglomerates. In Calabria the chain consists chiefly of crystalline and schistose rocks; it is the Mesozoic and Tertiary zone which has here been sunk beneath the sea. Similar rocks are found beneath the Trias farther north, in some of the valleys of Basilicata.
The Apennines include 21 peaks over 1,900 m (6,200 ft), the approximate tree line. Most of those are in the Central Apennines.
The following summary of major mountains of the Apennines include some of them and some below 1900 m:
|Corno Grande||2,912 m (9,554 ft)|
|Monte Velino||2,486 m (8,156 ft)|
|Monte Vettore||2,476 m (8,123 ft)|
|Pizzo di Sevo||2,419 m (7,936 ft)|
|Monte Terminillo||2,217 m (7,274 ft)|
|Monte Sibilla||2,173 m (7,129 ft)|
|Monte Cimone||2,165 m (7,103 ft)|
|Monte Cusna||2,121 m (6,959 ft)|
|Monte Prado||2,053 m (6,736 ft)|
|Monte Miletto||2,050 m (6,730 ft)|
|Alpe di Succiso||2,017 m (6,617 ft)|
|Monte Pisanino||1,946 m (6,385 ft)|
|Corno alle Scale||1,915 m (6,283 ft)|
|Monte Alto||1,904 m (6,247 ft)|
|La Nuda||1,894 m (6,214 ft)|
|Monte Maggio||1,853 m (6,079 ft)|
|Monte Giovarello||1,760 m (5,770 ft)|
|Monte Catria||1,701 m (5,581 ft)|
|Monte Gottero||1,640 m (5,380 ft)|
|Monte Pennino||1,560 m (5,120 ft)|
|Monte Nerone||1,525 m (5,003 ft)|
|Monte Fumaiolo||1,407 m (4,616 ft)|