- This is about the Italian mountain range. There is
also a lunar mountain range named the Montes Apenninus.
(Greek: Απεννινος; Latin: Appenninus
in both cases used in the plural; Italian: Appennini
) is a
from the north to the south of Italy along its
east coast, traversing the entire peninsula, and forming the backbone of the
The range characteristically consists of limestone
and related sedimentary strata
believed to have been uplifted near the end of the Cretaceous
when the African plate
began to gently collide with the
eastern part of the European plate
The same tectonic
episode also formed the
. The Apennines strata are of particular
significance in oceanic anoxic
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
The name may be derived from the Latin root "penne", meaning a
quill or feather, also the source of the word "pinnacle".
it may be linked etymologically to the English Pennines. The term Apennines was originally applied
to the northern portion of the chain, from the Maritime Alps to Ancona.
Polybius is probably the first writer who applied
it to the whole chain, making, indeed, no distinction between the
Apennines and the Maritime Alps, and extending the former name as
far as Marseilles.
Other Classical authors do not
differentiate the various parts of the chain, but use the name as a
general name for the whole.
The mountains lend their name to the Apennine peninsula
, which forms the major
part of Italy. The mountains are mostly green and wooded,
although one side of the highest peak, Corno Grande (2,912 m), is partially covered by the southernmost
glacier in Europe. The eastern slopes
down to the Adriatic
Sea are steep, while the western slopes form a plain on
which most of peninsular Italy's historic cities are
The total length is some 1,000 km and the
maximum width 80/140 km.
Modern geographers divide the range into three parts: northern,
central and southern. Together, they form a distinct physiographic
province of the larger Alpine System physiographic division.
northern Apennines are generally distinguished (though there is no
real solution of continuity) from the Maritime Alps at the
Bocchetta dell' Altare, some 8 km west of Savona on the high
road to Turin.
again are divided into three parts: the Ligurian, Tuscan and
Ligurian Apennines extend as far as the La Cisa pass in the upper valley of the Magra above
Spezia; at first they follow the curve of the Gulf of Genoa, and then run east-south-east parallel to the
coast. On the north and north-east lie the broad
plains of Piedmont and Lombardy, traversed by the Po, the chief
tributaries of which from the Ligurian Apennines are the Scrivia, Trebbia and Taro.
), though largely fed by tributaries from the
Ligurian Apennines, itself rises in the Maritime Alps, while the
rivers on the south and south-west of the range are short and
unimportant. The south side of the range rises steeply from the
sea, leaving practically no coast strip: its slopes are sheltered
and therefore fertile and highly cultivated, and the coast towns
form the favourite winter resorts of the Italian Riviera
highest point (Monte
Maggiorasca) reaches 1,799 m. The range is crossed
by several railways - the line from Savona to Turin (with a branch
at Ceva for Acqui), that from
Genoa to Ovada and Acquit,
the main lines from Genoa to Novi Ligure, the junction for Turin and Milan (both of
which pass under the Monte dei Giovi, the ancient Mons Loventius,
by which the ancient Via Postumia ran from Genua to Dertona), and
that from Spezia to Parma under the pass of La Cisa.
pass was also traversed by a nameless Roman
). All these traverse the ridge by long tunnels
- that on the new line from Genoa to Ronco Scrivia is upwards of 8 km in length.
The Tuscan Apennines extend from the pass of La Cisa to the
of the Tiber
. The main chain continues to run in an
east-south-east direction, but traverses the peninsula, the west
coast meanwhile turning almost due south. From the northern
slopes many rivers and streams run north and north-north-east into
the Po, the Secchia and Panaro being among
the most important, while farther east most of the rivers are
tributaries of the Reno.
small streams, e.g. the Ronco and Montone, which flow into the sea together east of Ravenna, were also tributaries of the Po; and the Savio and the Rubicon seem to be
the only streams from this side of the Tuscan Apennines that ran
directly into the sea in Roman
days. From the south-west side of the main range
the Arno and Serchio run into the Mediterranean. This section of the
Apennines is crossed by three railways, from Lunigiana to Parma, from
Pistoia to Bologna and from Prato to Bologna, and by several good high roads, of which the
direct road from Florence to Bologna over the Futa pass is of Roman origin; and certain places in it are
favourite summer resorts. The highest peaks of the chain are
Cimone (2,156 m) and Monte Cusna (2,121 m).
The so-called Alpi Apuane
, a detached chain south-west of the
valley of the Serchio, rise to a maximum height of 1,946 m.
contain the famous marble quarries of
Carrara. The greater part of Tuscany, however, is
taken up by lower hills, which form no part of the Apennines, being
divided from the main chain by the valleys of the Arno, Chiana and
Paglia, Towards the west they are rich in minerals and chemicals,
which the Apennines proper do not produce.
The Umbrian Apennines extend from the sources of the Tiber
to (or perhaps rather beyond) the pass of
Scheggia near Cagli, where the ancient Via
crosses the range. The highest point is the Monte Catria (1,701 m). The chief river is
the Tiber itself: the others, among which the Foglia
(Pisaurus), Metauro and Esino (This river (anc.
Aesis) was the
boundary of Italy proper in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC) may be
mentioned, run north-east into the Adriatic, which is some
50 km from the highest points of the chain. This portion of the
range is crossed near its southern termination by a railway from
Foligno to Ancona (which at Fabriano has a branch to Macerata and Civitanova Marche, on the Adriatic coast railway), which may perhaps
be conveniently regarded as its boundary.
(The Monte Conero,
to the south of Ancona, was originally an island of the Pliocene
sea.) By some geographers, indeed, it is
treated as a part of the central Apennines.
Gran Sasso and Campo Imperatore
central Apennines are the most extensive portion of the chain, and
stretch as far as the valley of the Sangro
(Sangrus). To the north are the Monti Sibillini, the highest point of which
is the Monte
Vettore (2,476 m). Farther south three
parallel chains may be traced, the westernmost of which (the Monti
Sabini) culminates to the south in the Monte Viglio (2,156 m), the
central chain in the Monte Terminillo (2,217 m), and farther south in the Monte Velino (2,486), and the eastern in the Gran Sasso
d'Italia (2,912 m), the highest summit of the Apennines, and
the Majella group (Monte Amaro, 2,793 m).
the western and central ranges are the plain of Rieti, the valley
of the Salto, and the Lago
Fucino; while between the central and eastern ranges are
the valleys of Aquila and
Sulmona. The chief rivers on the west are the
Nera, with its tributaries the Velino and Salto, and the Aniene, both of
which fall into the Tiber. On the east there is at first a
succession of small rivers which flow into the Adriatic, from which the highest points of the chain are
some 20 km distant, such as the Potenza, Chienti, Tenna,
Vomano an others. The Pescara, which receives the Aterno from the north-west and the Gizio from
the south-east, is more important; and so is the Sangro.
central Apennines are crossed by the railway from Rome to
Castelammare Adriatico via Avezzano and Sulmona: the railway from
Orte to Terni (and thence to Foligno) follows the Nera valley;
while from Terni a line ascends to the plain of Rieti, and thence
crosses the central chain to Aquila, whence it follows the valley
of the Aterno to Sulmona. In ancient times the Via Salaria, Via Caecilia and Via
Valeria-Claudia all ran from Rome to the Adriatic coast.
volcanic mountains of the province of Rome are separated from the
Apennines by the Tiber valley, and the Monti Lepini, or Volscian mountains, by the valleys of 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).
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
promontory of Monte
Gargano, on the east, is completely isolated, and so are
the Campanian volcanic arc near Naples.
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 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
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.
highest point is the Monte Pollino (2,248 m).
The Mount Pollino
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
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.
second group extends to the south end of the Italian peninsula,
culminating in the Aspromonte (1,956 m) to the east of Reggio di
In both groups the rivers are quite
The Apennines are to some extent clothed with forests, though these
were probably more extensive in classical times (Pliny
mentions especially pine
woods, Hist. Nat
. xvi. 177);
they have indeed been greatly reduced in comparatively modern times
by indiscriminate timber-felling, and though serious attempts at
have been made by the
government, much remains to be done.
They also furnish considerable summer pastures, especially in the
: Pliny (Hist. Nat
xi. 240) praises the cheese of the Apennines. In the forests
were frequent, and still are found,
the flocks being protected against them by large sheep-dogs; bears,
however, which were known in Roman times, have almost entirely
disappeared. Nor are the wild goats called rotae
of by Marcus Terentius Varro
II. i. 5), which may have been either
, to be found.
Brigandage appears to have been prevalent in Roman times in the
more remote parts of the Apennines, as it was until recently: an
inscription found near the Furlo pass was set up in AD 246 by an
(a member of a picked corps) on special
police duty with a detachment of twenty men from the Ravenna
Snow lies on the highest peaks of the Apennines for almost the
whole year. The range produces no minerals, but there
are a considerable number of good mineral
springs, some of which are thermal (such as Bagni di
Lucca, Montecatini, Monsummano, Porretta, Telese), while others are cool (such as
Nocera, Sangemini, Cinciano), the water of which is both drunk on the
spot and sold as table water elsewhere.
The particular shape of the Pietra di
Bismantova, Tuscan Apennines, Emilia-Romagna region
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
in which the African Plate
descending beneath the Eurasian
. 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.
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
The inner zone of crystalline
rocks which forms the main chain of the
Alps, is absent in the Apennines except towards the southern
The Apennines, indeed, consist almost entirely of Mesozoic
like the outer zones of the Alps. Remnants of a former inner zone of more
ancient 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
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 chain.
But that in Tertiary times there was a high interior zone of
crystalline rocks 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
. 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
This old land mass has been called Tyrrhenis
, and probably extended from Sicily
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.
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
Eocene and Miocene
beds. In the south the
deposits, from the Trias to the middle Eocene, consist mainly of
, 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
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.
no longer exist in the Apennines outside the Gran Sasso
d'Italia massif; Post-Pliocene moraines have been observed in Basilicata,
Apennines traverse Italy in a
direction from about north-north-west to south-south-east, almost
precisely parallel to that of the coast of the Adriatic from Rimini to
Major mountains in the range include:
|Pizzo di Sevo
|Monte Cusna, a.k.a. "Il Gigante"
|Alpe di Succiso
|Monte Pisanino (Alpi Apuane)
|Corno alle Scale