The Garfagnana
The Apuan Alps

The Alps as a whole, represent an environment of the most interesting from the point view of vegetation, as they stand by more thermophilous Mediterranean horizons, characterized by the forest plan sphere and the coastal maquis of Versilia, to reach to their peaks and slopes in Garfagnana horizons typically Alpine and microtia, through a variety of fitocenosi that it is difficult to find in such a short space and include many rare species, and other endemisms.
The great richness of species and environments characteristic that has made the mass of Apuane were identified several habitats of significant interest, included in the survey sponsored by the Societ� Botanica Italiana.
In the few peaks of siliceous Apuane (Monte Pisanino, part of Mount Contrario) vegeta various species, as Trifolium thalii, Saxifraga exarata, Juniperus nana.
Exposed in valleys north of the mountains there are small heaths dominated by Empetrum nigrum and Vaccinium uliginosum, and acid from other species.
On the walls are frequent Siliceous bearings of various compact Saxifraga, the tufts of Alchemilla alpine and Primula auriculo subsp. ciliata, which prefers siliceous substrates.
But it is the peaks and their limestone and marble walls (drum, Sella, Macina, High) and dolomite (Pizzo d'uccello) that we find the most remarkable variety:axifraga lingulata, Silene lanuginosa, Arenaria bergolonii, Anemone alpina var. millefoliata to north and to south Rhamnus glaucopbylla, Moltkia suffruticosa, Globularia incanescens, Asperula purpurea.
On the limestone ridges, the species characteristics stolon as Dryas octopetala and Globularia cordifolia var. integrated.
The peaks of the Penna del Sumbra and, in part, to the Contrario and of the Cavallo are in a limestone lists of flint, on walls, especially those exposed to the north, are found in brief space the typical rarity both limestone walls that siciceous: Salix crataegifolia, Saxifraga lingulata, Silene lanuginosa, Saxifraga aizoides, Alchemilla alpina.
Finally, a habitat of interest is in the group of the Panie.
This is a group of calcareous (limestone madrepores that which has undergone a metamorphosis and limestone lists of flint) which variety of environments and consequent differences in vegetation.
There are almost all the rare plants of Apuane, endemism and species separately.
Among the endemics Apuan: Carex macrostachys, Cerastium arvense var. apuanmn, Asperula purpurea, Athamanta cortiana, Rhamnus glaucophyllus, Santolina pinnata, Salix crataegifoha.
Among those Appennine: Globularia incanescens, Saxifraga oppositifolia var. latina, Avena versicolor var. praetutiana, Leontodon anomalus,Arenaria bertolonii, Pulsatilla alpina, Aquilegia bertolonii, Robertia taraxacoides, Astrantia pauciflora.
Finally among the separate species: Moltkia suffruticosa, Galium palaeoitalicun, Saxifraga aizoides, Geranium argenteum.


The numerous caves and caverns Apuane revealed, bone, the presence of different animal species, mostly now extinct, such as the cave bear, the ibex, chamois, wolf, the hyena, the ox primitive, and large liege lord: the lynx, the lion and leopard.
Although wildlife has changed over time, still in the side of the Garfagnana Apuane live over forty species of mammals.
Among the huge amount of widespread wild boar, and deer and the deer have recently been, from Park of the Orecchiella.
Also the marten, the fame, the polecat, the weasel, the occasional otter, the badger, the fox, squirrel, the dormouse, the quercino, the "Arvicola snow, hedgehogs, hares, the shrews, the dormouse.
Among birds, the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, the rare raven, the eagle owl, the coturnice, the red partridge, the Chough, the swallow montana. Reptiles and amphibians are present in the grass snake by the neck, the viper, the Apuan triton alpestre, the salamander from the glasses, the Italian geotritone and endemism cavernicolo, germani Hydromantes italicus. Among the fish, spread the fario trout, the crayfish, a freshwater crab.
Lakes are abundant cyprinids.
Very interesting insects: among the great Parnassos butterflies (Parnassius apollo appenninus); among ortotteri Sepiana sepium (Mediterranean) and Stenobothrus rubicundus (especially alpine); including some endemic beetles.
Sipalia apuana, Bithynus apuanus e Trachypbloeus apuanus.
Important wildlife cavernicola.
Besides the many bats, some very interesting beetles are devoid of eyes and depigmented. Then some carabidi - The Duval - very specialized, which differ depending on the type of caves.
So there is the hole in Duvalius apuanum of the Omo Selvatico (wild man: the legend), the Duvalius doria carrarae Grotta delle Fate (Cave of the fairies), the Duvalius doria Briani in Tana che Urla (hole that screams) and in several caves of Panie.


The Apuan Alps are among the most important karst areas in the world.
The limestone matrix that has been characterized over the millennia the disruptive action of the water that has created a large number of caves. chasms, wells.
Areas of Vetricia (Panie Group) and the "Carcaraia" (Tambura Mountain) are in the world, including areas with the greatest density of natural cavities that are known.
Some of these cavities have a significant development, just think of the Antro del Corchia (cavern Corchia), 1200 meters deep, and with a development of over 40 kilometers.
This is the reason of the fact that every year there are many cavers who come from all over Italy and abroad to explore this large and fascinating underground.
Alongside these large cavities that require for their technical exploration, experience, and many facilities, there are many medium and small caves, easily accessible, offering the possibility of a direct contact with the underworld.
The environment, mostly new, can put the walker in the face of difficulties unexpected.
We recommend you to be guided by experts, who know these areas, addressing at the various caving groups in Tuscany.
For those who want to get closer to the underground world in peace, there is the Grotta del Vento, in the municipality of Vergemoli
The cave is equipped for sightseeing.
Inside, comfortable hiking harmonized perfectly to the underground to observe all the manifestations of evolutionary Karstification deep, conducted by the newly excavated remains from the ancient fossil galleries, all decorated with beautiful stalactites polychrome, slender translucent drapes, white pinnacles and casting stalagmites.
Water, absent on the surface, is abundant throughout the cave, where there are underground rivers, waterfalls, traps, ponds and puddles of overflow covered by sparkling crystals of calcite.
The concretions are all alive, that is, growth, ever traveled by a veil of water that turns the colors enhance the beauty.
The galleries known, are developed for more than four kilometers, but they are very numerous branches unexplored.
Every aspect of this fantastic natural history of the underworld is described with precision and skill by experienced caving guides.


The Region of Tuscany has ruled with L.R. 5/85 of the Apuan Alps Park, thereby promoting the preservation of a mountain range, unique geographical features, geo-morphological and nature, which extends in the direction NW-SE between the Versiia and Serchio Valley.
Contrary to what many believe, the Apuan Alps, which have a development of around sixty kilometers and a surface that is around one thousand square kilometers, are the majority in the Province of Lucca.
The rest of the territory is located in the Province of Massa Carrara.
On both sides, in different areas clearly delineated, there are several quarries of marble. This activity has become an integral part of the territory, has since helped to bring the world the image of the marble Apuan.
The Garfagnana area, include the Apuan chain since its origin and for the most imposing and impressive.
Starting from the junction between the Apuan Alps and Apennines, through the prairies of Tea, of the Argegna, and Foce Carpinelli of the Apuan Alps are now the cusp of Pisanino - the largest top - surrounded by the rocky peaks of Pizzo d'Uccello, Monte Grondilice and Roccandagia.
View Turrite cava valley from Mount Forato
Then continuing in a southerly direction for Tambura, the Alto di Sella, the Sumbra, and Mount Altissimo, until the Dolomitic Group of Corchia, of the Pizzo delle Saette, of the Pania della Croce and Pania Secca, still pushing ahead with Mount Forato and Matanna, which dominates the last valley of the Garfagnana, that of Turrite Cava.


The Apuan feature is its geological complexity, not yet fully elucidated. This fact, from the Paleocene is characterized by significant pain with geological sediment, upheavals, riemersioni and submersion. In summary, based on the most recent studies, the Apuan Alps were formed:
- With a core represented by rocks that were formed here and sedimentation which have subsequently undergone a metamorphosis.
These rocks can be traced back to Carbonifero period and the period Oligocene;
- From an aquifer, the so-called Tuscan aquifer, consisting of non-metamorphic rocks, originated in the same way, but not on site, and surrounding the nucleus.
These rocks are related to the period from the Triassic to upper Miocene;
- A frame, which in turn surrounds the Tuscan aquifer, and often overlapping, formed by rocks of various kinds, which are also alien, such as diabase, the Gabbro, the serpentine, which constitute the aquifer ligure, attributable to Jurassic-Paleocene period.
The lithology is quite varied.
The best-known formations are those of the limestone massifs in major banks, namely marble, of a power even more than three hundred meters.
Besides these there are dolomite and dolomite limestone, schist porphyritic Carcara in thin layers, filladi and gneis Albita, in addition to remember and ultra basic rocks of basic igneous origin, such as "green stone": Gabbro, serpentine, diabase.
The Alps are also interested in their side Garfagnana by a series of caves, gorges, caves of considerable depth and development, often characterized by rivers and underground impressive and spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.
The soil that originates from rocks Apuane is greatly influenced by its origin Lithologic, but even more from the natural vegetation which, favored by high rainfall tends to form brown earth, good thickness, and in impluvium in the less sloping; thick thin where the ground is steep and has little forest cover.
The percolabilit� (vertical permeability) of the rocks and even more of groundwater accumulated debris at the foot of the Apuan peaks is often diminished by the presence of a large forest soil, able to retain water and nutrients, so it is possible to find species mesic or moderately xerophilous. Where the forest cover has not been able to assert itself, was degraded, or the soil is rocky, gravelly and steep, the active layer appears low, rich in skeleton, characterized by sharply xerophilous species, the only able to survive in these inhospitable environments.
This situation is also in constant, albeit slow, evolution, driven by lower utilization of forests and the expansion of forest vegetation pioneer.