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The Apennine Mountains or the Apennines are the main mountain system of Italy. It stretches as a series of linked mountain ranges for more than 1,200 km (750 mi) along the Apennine Peninsula, from which it gets its name. It covers the entire country except in the north, where the Po River Plain lies, beyond which the Alps begins. The main feature of the system is its most extensive mountain range, the Gran Sasso d’Italia ("Great Stone of Italy") massif, located by natural coincidence approximately in the center of the peninsula. It also includes the highest and the most prominent mountain of the entire Apennines—Corno Grande—Vetta Occidentale (the “Great Horn”—Western Summit) of 2,912 m (9,554 ft). The massif is also the Gran Sasso and Laga Mountains National Park, which includes another neighboring mountain range. In total there are 19280 named mountains in the Apennines.

Corno Grande, Apennine Mountains, Appennini, Apennines, Italy


According to the generally accepted version, the name of the range comes from the Celtic word "penn," which means "mountain" or "summit", or "peak", or the like. The Celtic origin is explained by the fact that in the beginning the word described only the northern part of the mountain system, where this largest European ancient tribe lived, before the arrival of the Romans.

The name of the system in Italian is Appennini, in other languages: Apennin (German), Apennins (French).

Geography and Landscape

The Apennines extend for more than 1,200 km (746 mi) along the entire peninsula of the same name on which most of Italy is located: from the island of Sicily in the south to the Ligurian Alps, the southernmost mountain range in the Western Alps, in the north, with which the Apennines collide west of the major city of Genoa.

Apennenes map, Italy

If we look closer, the mountain system stretches along the peninsula not in a straight line, of course, but wriggles like a snake:

  • The high mountains cover only the northeastern part of Sicily and the entire southern part of the nose of the "Italian boot," leaving its heel almost flat.
  • Then the Apennines continues northward, reaching the center of the peninsula and expanding outwards, occupying almost all of its territory from west to east, which is about 250 km (155 mi)—that's how wide they are.. Here, almost in the geographical center of Italy, just north of Rome, by coincidence, are the most extensive ranges with the highest mountains.
  • The Apennines then climb to the northeast, from where they turn west to meet the Alps.

Monte Terminillo, Apennine Range, Apennenes, Italy

As a result, these mountains are also divided for convenience into three main parts: the Northern Apennines (Appennino settentrionale), the Central Apennines (Appennino centrale), and the Southern Apennines (Appennino meridionale). But, of course, it's not that simple.

In addition to the mountains, which will be discussed below, among other individual features of the landscape of the system, the following should be singled out for one reason or another:

  1. The only glacier in the Apennines is Calderone Glacier (Ghiacciaio del Calderone), partly covering its highest mountain, Corno Grande.
  2. The four active of 30+ volcanoes in Italy and throughout Southern Europe: Vesuvio (1,281 m / 4,202 ft), Etna (3,357 m / 11,013 ft), Stromboli (926 m / 3,038 ft), and Vulcano (391 m / 1,282 ft).
  3. The highest paved pass of the range you can cross year-round is Passo della Pradarena (1,579 m / 5,180 ft) between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna.
  4. The only UNESCO site valley of the system is Vallo di Diano to the north of the city of Salerno in the Campania region, a part of the larger World Heritage site.
  5. The longest river in the Apennines and the third-longest in Italy is the Tiber of 389 km (242 mi), which flows from Mount Fumaiolo (1,406 m / 4,616 ft) in the Northern Apennines near the town of Cesena in the Emilia-Romagna region on its border with Tuscany to the Tyrrhenian Sea via Rome.
  6. The three largest lakes are Trasimeno to the west of Perugia, Bolsena to the west of Terni, and Bracciano to the north of Rome.
  7. The most hidden cave between Rome and Naples is the Grotta di Sperlonga named after the seaside town, with the ruins of Villa di Tiberio—the second Roman emperor.
  8. The two highest waterfalls in the Apennines are Rio Verde (200 m / 656 ft) in Abruzzo, and Marmore (165 m / 541 ft) in Umbria.
  9. The largest island with Apennines mountains is Sicily, other famous ones are Ischia, Ponza of Pontine Islands, Tuscan Archipelago, and many more.
  10. The most beautiful smaller peninsula is Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana) south of Naples culminating in another famous island, Capri.

Mount Solaro, Capri Island, Apennenes, Italy

Mount Solaro, Capri Island


The main thing to know about the origin of the Apennines is that geologically they are a separate mountain system from the Alps, although previously it was thought the opposite, because of their geographical proximity.

The Apennines are about two to three times younger than the Alps. They appeared between 65 and 20 million years ago during the Cenozoic Era (Miocene and Pliocene epochs). This long geological process is called the Apennine orogeny. These mountains rose out of the ancient Tethys Sea as a result of its shallowing. The Alps appeared about 65 million years ago during the Mesozoic Era or the Alpine orogeny as a result of the collision of the African and European tectonic plates.

Lattari Mountains, Apennenes, Italy

Lattari Mountains

However, the mountain systems also have similarities—because of the presence of the Tethys Sea in the past, both are composed mainly of marine sedimentary rocks: shales, clay, sandstones and limestones, dolomites, marl, and others, except the Central Alps (one of the three large parts of the Eastern Alps according to the classification of the German-Austrian Alpine Club, AVE), which are mainly composed of crystalline rocks: granite, gneiss, slate, and others.

Ranges and Summits

Given the size of the Apennines, which cover the entire namesake peninsula, they consist of a large number of separate but related ranges and subranges or groups with 12,127 named mountains in total. Their classification is rather confusing, but I will help you to understand it.

The entire mountain system is divided in two main ways: by latitude or north to south, and by longitude or west to east. The first includes the Apennines proper, the second includes the Preapennines or the foothills, which are more often called by the well-established and unusual term the Antiapennines (but that is not the only name), whose existence you might not even have guessed before, right. And, in my opinion, with all due respect to the main range of the Apennines, they are no less or maybe even more interesting to explore than the former.

The Antiappenines is a generic name for mountains that geographically are the same as the main snake-like range of the Apennines, but, if you look closely, they are separated from it by deep valleys and wide mountain trenches. The second reason why they are singled out as separate mountains is geology: They have stones of other compositions, such as the Apuan Alps, where there is a lot of marble, and so this range served as the main source of it for paving streets and cladding buildings of Rome. This part of the Apennines contains other unusual mountains like the world-famous volcano Vesuvius or Monte Circeo (541 m / 1,774 ft), where Odysseus himself spent a couple of years.

Volcano Mountain Vesuvius, Apennines, Italy

Mountain Vesuvius

A special note about the mountains of Sicily. Some sources refer them to as the Apennines calling them the Sicilian Apennines (Appennino siculo) with the highest peak Pizzo Carbonara (1,979 m / 6,492 ft), others do not, allocating them to a separate range, Sicily Mountains, or rather a group of three relatively small ranges: Monti Peloritani, Monti Nebrodi, and Madonie. The most famous mountain of Sicily, volcano Etna, in turn, is considered a separate peak.

Pizzo Carbonara, Sicily, Appennines, Italy

Pizzo Carbonara

So what follows is a classification of the Apennines. Be patient—the list will be long, but you will find more gems in it. Closer to the center, I also leave the original Italian names of the mountain groups for maximum accuracy.

The Apennines (by latitude, north to south)

In general, the Apennines are separated into four big and several smaller parts with the following regions, the main subranges and the highest mountains in each of them:

1. The Northern Apennines (Appennino settentrionale)

1.1. The Ligurian Apennines (Appennino ligure): Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Toscana—Monte Maggiorasca (1,804 m / 5,918 ft)

  • Massiccio Savonese
  • Gruppo del Monte Figne
  • Monti di Genova
  • Nodo della Scoffera
  • Catena dei Monti Liguri
  • Gruppo del Monte Maggiorasca
  • Nodo del Monte Zatta
  • Appennino Spezzino

Monte Reixa, Liguria, Ligurian Apennines, Northern Italy

Monte Reixa, Liguria

1.2. The Tuscan-Emilian Apennines (Appennino tosco-emiliano): Tuscany, and Emilia-Romagna—Monte Cimone (2,165 m / 7,103 ft)

1.2.1. The Tuscan Apennines Subranges

  • La Lunigiana
  • La Montagna Pistoiese
  • La Garfagnana (Alpi Apuane)
  • Serchio
  • Val di Bisenzio
  • Monti della Calvana
  • Mugello
  • Casentino

1.2.2. The Emilian Apennines Subranges

  • Appennino parmense
  • Appennino reggiano
  • Appennino modenese (Frignano)
  • Appennino bolognese

Monte Cimone, Apennines, Italy

Monte Cimone

1.3 The Tuscan-Romanian Apennines (Appennino tosco-romagnolo): Tuscany, Romagna (a historical region in the southeast of the present-day Emilia-Romagna region), the Republic of San Marino, and partly Marche and Umbria—Monte Falco (1,658 m / 5,439 ft)

1.3.1 The Tuscan Apennines Subranges

  • Mugello
  • Casentino
  • Valdarno
  • Val Tiberina
  • Valmarecchia toscana

1.3.2. The Romanian Apennines Subranges

  • Appennino imolese
  • Appennino faentino
  • Appennino forlivese
  • Appennino cesenate
  • Appennino riminese
  • Montefeltro

Province Siena, Montalcino, Tuscany, Apennines, Italy


2. The Central Apennines (Appennino centrale)

2.1. The Umbrian-Marchigian Apennines (Appennino umbro-marchigiano): Umbria, Marche, Lazio—Monte Vettore (2,476 m / 8,123 ft)

2.1.1. Eastern Subranges

  • Bocca Serriola (Bocca Trabaria)
  • Monte Subasio
  • Monti Martani

2.1.2. Central Subranges

  • Monte Cucco-Catria-Nerone
  • Monti Sibillini
  • Corno alle Scale

Monti Sibillini, Apennines, Italy

Monti Sibillini

2.1.3. Western Subranges

  • Monte San Vicino

2.1.4. Ellissoide di Cingoli (Ellipsoid of the commune of Cingoli)

2.1.5. Monte Conero (Monte d’Ancona)

2.2 The Abruzzo Apennines (Appennino abruzzese): Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise—Corno Grande—Vetta Occidentale (2,912 m / 9,554 ft)

Corno Grande, Apennines, Italy

Corno Grande

2.2.1. Eastern Subranges

  • Monti della Laga
  • Il Gran Sasso d’Italia
  • Gruppo meridionale della Maiella

2.2.2. Central Subranges

  • Monti Reatini
  • Monti del Cicolano
  • Monti della Duchessa
  • Sirente-Velino
  • Monti Sirente
  • Altopiano delle Cinquemiglia

2.2.3. Western Subranges

  • Monti Carseolani
  • Monti Simbruini
  • Monti Cantari
  • Monti Ernici
  • Serra Lunga
  • Gruppo della Maiella
  • Monti della Meta
  • Le Mainarde
  • Monti Marsicani

3. The Southern Apennines (Appennino meridionale)

3.1. The Samnium Apennines (Appennino sannita): Sannio (a historical region inhabited by the Samnites tribe in the southwest of the present-day regions of Molise, and Campania)—Monte Miletto (2,050 m / 6,725 ft)

Matese lake, Monte Miletto, Apennines, Italy

Monte Miletto
  • Massiccio del Matese

3.2. The Campanian Apennines (Appennino campano): Campania, Basilicata—Cervialto (1,809 m / 5,935 ft)

  • Taburno Camposauro
  • Monti del Partenio
  • Monti Picentini

Taburno Camposauro, Appennines, Italy

Taburno Camposauro

3.3. The Lucanian Apennines (Appennino lucano): Campania, Basilicata, Calabria—Serra Dolcedorme (2,267 m / 7,437 ft)

  • Il Vulture
  • L’Altopiano dei Li Foj
  • Comprensorio Sellata-Volturino-Viggiano e Monti della Maddalena
  • Monti del Cilento
  • Monti Alburni also known as the “Dolomites of Campania”
  • Val d’Agri Lagonegrese
  • Massiccio del Sirino
  • Monte Alpi
  • Monti la Spina-Zaccana
  • Massiccio del Pollino
  • Monti dell’Orsomarso

Lucanian Apennine, Italy

Castelmezzano village in the Lucanian Apennine. Basilicata

3.4. The Calabrian Apennines (Appennino calabro): Calabria—Serra Dolcedorme (2,267 m / 7,437 ft)

  • Catena Costiera
  • Altopiano della Sila
  • Catena delle Serre
  • Massiccio dell’Aspromonte

Serra Dolcedorme, Appennines, Italy

Serra Dolcedorme

The Antiapennines (by longitude, west to east)

In general, the Antiapennines or the Preapennines are divided into four big and several smaller parts with the following regions, the main subranges and the highest mountains in each of them:

1. The Antiapennines Main Range

The Antiapennines Main Range is a range of mountains corresponding to the watershed between the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas to the west and the Adriatic and Ionian seas to the east.

2. The Subappennines (Subappennino)

2.1. The Tuscan Subappennines (Subappennino toscano): Tuscany—Monte Pisanino (1,946 m / 6,384 ft)

  • Alpi Apuane (Alpi di Garfagnana)
  • Monte Pisano
  • Monti Pistoiesi
  • Monti del Mugello e di Calvana
  • Pratomagno
  • Alpe di Catenaia

Monte Pisanino, Apennines, Italy

Monte Pisanino

2.2. The Lazio Subappennines (Subappennino laziale): Lazio—Monte Tancia (1,292 m / 4,238 ft)

  • Monti Sabini
  • Monti Lucretili
  • Monti Prenestini
  • Monti Tiburtini
  • Monti Ruffi
  • Monti Affilani
  • Monti Cornicolani

Monti Sabini, Lazio Subappennines, Italy

Monti Sabini

2.3. The Abruzzo and Molise Subappennines (Subappennino abruzzese-molisano): Abruzzo, and Molise—Monte Castelfraiano (1,412 m / 4,632 ft)

  • Monti Frentani

2.4. The Dauno Subappennines (Subappennino dauno): Daunia (a historical region in the present-day Apulia (Puglia) region), Campania—Monte Cornacchia (1,151 m / 3,776 ft)

  • Monti della Daunia (Monti Dauni)

3. The Antiappennines (Antiappennino)

3.1. The Tuscan Antiappennines (Antiappennino toscano): Tuscany—Monte Amiata (1,738 m / 5,702 ft)

  • Colline del Chianti e di Montepulciano
  • Colline Metallifere della Toscana
  • Il gruppo dell’Amiata

Monte Amiata, Tuscan Antiappennines, Italy

Monte Amiata

3.2. The Lazio Antiappennines (Antiappennino laziale): Lazio—La Semprevisa (1,536 m / 5,039 ft)

  • Monti Volsini
  • Monti Cimini
  • Monti Sabatini
  • Monte Soratte
  • Monti Sabatini
  • Monti della Tolfa
  • Colli Albani
  • Monti Volsci: Monti Lepini, Monti Ausoni, and Monti Aurunci
  • Monte Circeo
  • Pontine Islands

Monte Semprevisa, Lazio Antiappennines, Italy

Monte Semprevisa

3.3. The Campania Antiappennines (Antiappennino campano): Campania—Monte Sant’Angelo a Tre Pizzi (1,444 m / 4,737 ft)

  • Roccamonfina (vulcano)
  • Monte Massico
  • Monti Trebulani
  • Monti Tifatini
  • Campi Flegrei (vulcano)
  • Vesuvio (vulcano)
  • Monti Lattari

Monti Lattari, Campania Antiappennines, Italy

Monti Lattari

3.4. The Apulo-Garganic Antiapennines (Antiappennino apulo-garganico): Apulia (Puglia), including Gargano (a historical region in the present-day province of Foggia), and Basilicata—Monte Calvo (1,056 m / 3,464 ft)

  • Promontorio del Gargano
  • Le Murge

Monte Calvo, Apulo-Garganic Antiappennines, Italy

Monte Calvo


The peaks in the Apennine Mountains are modest in elevation, all of them sit below 3,000 m (ft). The highest summit of the range, Corno Grande—Vetta Occidentale, which is translated from Italian as “Wester Summit of the Big or Great Horn”, towers over the surrounding landscape at 2,912 m (9,554 ft). It is also the most prominent Ultra-mountain (2,473 m / 8,113 ft).

In addition, there are several other Ultra-peaks in the Apennines: Monte Amaro (2,793 m / 9,163 ft, prom: 1,813 m / 5,948 ft), Serra Dolcedorme (2,267 m / 7,437 ft, prom: 1,711 m / 5,613 ft), Montalto (1,956 m / 6,417 ft, prom: 1,700 m / 5,577 ft), and Monte Cimone (2,165 m / 7,103 ft, prom: 1,575 m / 5,167 ft).

Monte Amaro, Appennines, Italy

Monte Amaro

A little more entertaining geography—the extreme mountains of the Apennines according to the four parts of the world:

  • The northernmost peak on the border with the Alps is Bric Sportiole (897 m / 2,942 ft).
  • The southernmost on the border with Sicily is Monte Grosso O Lesti (1,311 m / 4,301 ft), but taking into account the Mountains of Sicily, it is Cozzo Streppenosa (462 m / 1,515 ft) on the southern tip of the island or Monte Falcone (686 m / 2,250 ft) on the western tip.
  • The westernmost is Monte Castello (440 m / 1,443 ft), the highest peak of the volcanic island of Capraia in the Tuscan Archipelago near the northern tip of the French island of Corsica.
  • The easternmost is Monte Conero (572 m / 1,876 ft) near the large port city of Ancona in the Marche region on the shore of the Adriatic Sea.

Monte Conero, Appennines, Italy

Monte Conero

Among the other important peaks of the Apennines, of course, I must mention Rome’s famous seven hills: the very low Aventino (51 m / 167 ft), Capitolino (59 m / 193 ft), and Palatino (57 m / 187 ft) in the city center near the Colosseum (I hardly even noticed them while walking in Rome), and the more distant and higher ones to the northeast of the center: Celio (59 m / 193 ft), Esquilino (88 m / 288 ft), Quirinale (38 m / 124 ft), and Viminale (43 m / 141 ft).

The only mountain in the city-state of the Vatican, which you are also sure to visit, is called the same — Monte Vaticanus (83 m / 272 ft). Yes, it has a mountain!

More: Vatican is not the only inner state of the Apennines, there is also the Republic of San Marino in the northeast of the range with its highest peak, Monte Titano (739 m / 2,445 ft).

Best Hikes in the Apennines

Except for its pure and wild nature, ancient myths, cultural diversity, and religious relics are abundant in the Apennines, making it an ideal place for hiking and exploring.

Hiking Areas

Most of the Apennine mountainous area belongs to natural parks, nature reserves, and other green areas. This is another clear difference from the Alps, where, of course, there are also many parks. But in the Apennines, they literally follow one another, so the opposite happens—it is harder to choose an area to hike than to find one.

National Parks

As in the world as a whole, these are the largest and most important natural areas in Italy. Of its 25 national parks, 15 are located in the Apennines, that is, about 2/3. From my personal choice, here’re the five main ones in the Apennines from north to south with an overview of each of them:

Cinque Terre National Park (Parco nazionale Cinque Terre). It is the main park in the northern Apennines, located on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea north of the town of La Spezia.

The park is named after five villages or lands (terre in Italian) — Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore—built literally on rocky cliffs and in picturesque bays as fishing settlements, which due to their picturesque location over time have become one of the main tourist attractions of Italy together with Venice and others — alas, rather in a bad way.

Next I asked a colleague who also hikes a lot in the Apennines to tell about the main trails in the park, as well as the other four:

“The main hiking trail in the park is the Blue Path (Sentiero Azzurro). It is divided into four sections and connects all the villages. The total length is about 12 km (7.5 mi) but some of the sections can be closed as an attempt by locals to limit the influx of tourists. This trail along the Ligurian coast is of great scenic and cultural value. The layout and disposition of the small towns and the shaping of the surrounding landscape, overcoming the disadvantages of steep, uneven terrain, encapsulate the continuous history of human settlement in this region over the past millennium.

Cinque Terre National Park, Apennines, Italy

Cinque Terre National Park

Sibillini Mountains National Park (Parco nazionale dei Monti Sibillini). Sibillini Mountains are named after Monte Sibilla (2,173 m / 7,129 ft) where the Sibyl, a sort of witch with extraordinary powers, was believed to dwell.

Most of the peaks of this range are over 2,000 m (6,561 ft). The highest is Monte Vettore (2,476 m / 8,123 ft). Since 1993 the area has been part of the namesake national park. Thanks to a long tradition of sheep-farming culture, today we can easily access these mountains through well-established sheep tracks. Important: due to a severe earthquake in 2016 some trails may be still closed.

The main (and the longest) hiking route in the park with the name speaking for itself is the “Sibillini Mountains Great Ring” (Grande Anello dei Sibillini) of 120 km (75 mi). However, like all long hiking routes, it consists of shorter sections you can hike. In the “Ring,” there are 9 of them.

Sibillini Mountains, Monte Sibilla, Apennines, Italy

Sibillini Mountains

Gran Sasso and Laga Mountains National Park (Parco nazionale Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga) is one of the largest and most precious, protected areas in Europe.

Here, the great natural treasures live alongside amazing cultural heritage. Snow can continue to fall on the park’s highest mountain, Corno Grande, until late May and remain thick in summer as well. If you’re going to do any of the Gran Sasso trails, I recommend you to have the CAI Gran Sasso d’Italia map in addition to the PeakVisor app.

The main hiking route in the park starts from Pomilio Hut and is meant to satisfy the most fastidious hikers.

Cilento, Diano Valley, and Alburni Mountains National Park (Parco nazionale Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni). Cilento in Campania is a mountainous area, as well as a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its long history and the permanency of ancient agricultural traditions.

The park is a lesser-known paradise of jagged coastline and inland hills that combine beautiful seas with green natural splendor but it is a world away from the crowds and tourist shops. Here you will find street markets where the locals shop and small stores for everyday life. The most important range of this region is the Alburni Mountains, also called the “Southern Dolomites” or the “Dolomites of Campania”, due to their resemblance to their northern cousins.

Alburni Mountains, Apennines, Italy

Alburni Mountains

The main hiking route in the park is a walk on Monte Panormo (1,742 m / 5,715 ft), also known as Alburno, which will lead you to Panormo Hut starting from Ottati village, right on the mountain top, going through beech woods and sheep tracks. In addition, there are a few trails that go to the locally important Santuario della Madonna Delle Nevi (Virgin Mary of the Snow Sanctuary).

Monte Panormo, Apennines, Italy

Monte Panormo

Sila National Park (Parco nazionale della Sila). The namesake Sila Mountains are located in Calabria, between Catanzaro and Crotone, on the Calabrian Apennines. The highest peak is Monte Pollino (2,248 m / 7,375 ft).

Occasionally, the Sila woods remind us of the Scandinavian Mountains panorama. The area is particularly rich in flora and fauna. In particular, it is one of the last and most populated bulwarks for wolves in Italy—with about 31 trails waiting to be explored.

The main trail in the park is a challenging 6-hour trail to the second-highest peak of Sila Mountains, Montenero (1,881 m / 6,171 ft), on the slopes of which you can find pseudo-dolmenic monoliths. The trail goes from the village of Cagno via Arvo Lake from May to October.”

Sila National Park, Calabria, Appennines, Italy

Sila National Park

All other national parks in the Apennines are the following:

Regional Nature Parks

In addition to national parks, the Apennines have even more regional nature parks, the second-largest type of natural areas by size. These parks are more popular with locals than tourists, which means you will find fewer of the latter in them.

For example, I would recommend visiting Aurunci Mountains Nature Park (Parco naturale dei Monti Aurunci), a relatively large mountain range between Rome and Naples. Thanks to its coastal location, you can see almost all of the Tyrrhenian Sea coast in this part, including Vesuvius, from the park's highest mountain Monte Petrella (1,533 m / 5,029 ft).

Monti Aurunci Nature Park, Appennines, Italy

Monti Aurunci Nature Park

Nature Reserves

Natural areas of this next type also make up a large part of the Apennines. They are even smaller and more strictly protected. But this does not mean that you cannot visit them and hike through them.

For example, one of the nature reserves, Monte Catillo (Riserva Naturale Monte Catillo), is just an hour from Rome, just north of the town of Tivoli with its famous villas and other Roman buildings. Paths lead to the reserve directly from the town and its low hills also offer excellent panoramic views of Tivoli itself and the surroundings.

Monte Catillo, Appennines, Italy

Monte Catillo

Natural Monuments

Finally, another popular type of natural area in the Apennines is various individual natural monuments also scattered throughout their territory from Sicily to Genoa. As a rule, these are natural structures of unusual shape or important from a scientific point of view, or rather both.

For example, also here between Rome and Naples, north of the coastal town of Terracina, is the Campo Soriano Natural Monument (Monumento naturale di Campo Soriano)—a huge crown-like rock that was formed in the process of weathering. It is accessible both on foot by trails and by bike. If you use a road bike, like I did, you can see it off the road from about 0.2 km (0.1 mi) but the approach is gravel.

Campo Soriano Natural Monument, Italy

Long Hiking Trails

In addition to the natural areas described above, thousands and tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of kilometers (mi) of various long hiking trails wind through the Apennines, many of which are known far beyond the mountain system. To help you get your bearings, I would divide them into three main groups: classical, historical and religious, and culinary—yes, what can you do in Italy without it, a country where food can (and often is) the main goal of a hike, including the longest ones, on which you can have a delicious meal more than once!

Classical Hikes

Classical hiking trails are routes with a focus on nature and small settlements, which can be of varying degrees of difficulty, but usually involve a higher level of physical activity than the usual walk in the mountains. Some of them are incredibly popular, while others are almost not. Here's what my colleague says again:

  • “The Big Apennine Hiking (Grande Escursione Appenninica, GEA), is a 425 km (264 mi) route that starts from the town of Bocca Trabaria on the border between Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche and ends in Lunigiana, a historical region that connects the Tuscany to Liguria, at Passo dei Due Santi (Two Saints Pass). So it goes from southeast to northwest mostly across Tuscany. It is feasible in 28 stages and it is recommended to hikers who want to take in a typical Apennine atmosphere, at least in its northern part, during a long hike.
  • The “Italy Coast to Coast” is a famous 400 km (249 mi) long trail that goes from the large port city of Ancona, on the Adriatic Sea, to the city of Orbetello, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It passes through Marche, Umbria, Lazio, and Tuscany. Even though it is not a route that goes on mountaintops, you will have a chance to admire the Apennine range from different points of view.”
  • The Grand Italian Trail (Sentiero Italia) is an even bigger route from the Italian Alpine Club (CAI), which in many ways repeats the previous one and goes further south, passing through the entire mountain system. The total length of the route together with its alpine part is more than 7,000 km (4,349 mi) divided into 500 stages, most of which are in the Apennines.

Sentiero degli Dei, Apennines, Italy

Sentiero degli Dei

Historical and Religious Hikes

A colleague continues: “The mountains of the Apennines have witnessed numerous historical changes. People from all walks of life, from venal mercenaries to valiant conquerors, humble pilgrims, cunning merchants, and just wanderers have been trying to conquer these mountains since the Roman Empire built the roads. Some of those ancient trails still exist and are known for their cultural heritage. The majority of these trails can be walked by hikers of any experience level because they traverse the mountains without significant elevation gain.

  • Via Francigena. Besides ’Camino de Santiago’ in Spain, this is probably the most famous pilgrimage trail in Europe. It indicates a group of trails used by Christian pilgrims to reach Rome from France. In medieval times it was an important road and pilgrimage route for those wishing to visit the Holy See and the tombs of the apostle's Peter and Paul. It starts in Canterbury (England) and ends in Brindisi (Italy) with many sections going through the Apennines.
  • Via dei Romei. In ancient times, this route connected Eastern Europe with Rome and Venice, going through the Apennines via Ravenna. From there you have different choices. We suggest you take Via Romea Nonantolana from Nonantola, then proceed by walking or MTB to Sestola, on Monte Cimone, and Fanano, a village of high artistic value.
  • Via Degli Dei. From the Etrurian to the Romans, many cults and religions settled on the Apennines, and relics of this ancient past are still traceable in the local toponymy. This “Way of the Gods” from Bologna to Florence stops exactly in places named after ancient gods, such as Monte Adone (654 m / 2,145 ft), Monte Monzone (1,052 m / 3,451 ft), Monte Venus (966 m / 3,169 ft), Monte Luario (1,140 m / 3,740 ft), and others. The entire route from Bologna to Florence is doable in less than one week.

Bologna, Apennines, Italy


Gourmet Hikes

Real or not, Italy is well known abroad for the Mediterranean diet. But pizza and pasta is only the tip of the iceberg. Regional varieties and local products are so abundant, that planning your hiking experience and leaving out food escapades would be a huge mistake. Since the Apennine Mountains extend from north to south through many regions, you are likely to find an immense variety of authentic, local mountain products like berries, chestnuts, herbs, dairy products, and rare vegetables.

  • The Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. If you are a wine lover, Monte Cusna (2,120 m / 6,955 ft) in the Tuscan Apennines, won’t disappoint you. It is the second-highest peak in the Northern Apennines after Monte Cimone, but it is more remote and much steeper. It is located in the namesake Ozola Valley, Cusna Mountain Nature Reserve (Reserva naturale Val d'Ozola, Monte Cusna—a Nature 2000 network park) with many other hiking trails of different lengths. Dairy products are a must in the Emilian part. Parmesan cheese is the king of this land and it goes really well with pink Lambrusco wine. At Cerreto Pass and on Monte La Nuda (1,895 m / 6,217 ft) you can experience the taste of Lunigiana made of local honey, chestnuts, and mushrooms, and other products.
  • The Lucanian Apennines. The region is famous for such dairy products as Caciocavallo Podolico, or the Red Eggplant from Rotonda. Combining a visit to the Lucanian Apennine Val d’Agri Lagonegrese National Park with a stop at one local restaurant will definitely upgrade your experience. If your trip includes Monte Volturino (1,836 m / 6,023 ft) you can try a medium-level 4-hour trail (11 km / 7 mi one way) that starts from Copone Spring and leads to the top of the mountain.

Monte Cusna, Italy

Monte Cusna

I would add the Lazio Antiappennines. After hiking in the Aurunci Regional Nature Park or right during it, for example on the Monte delle Fate (1,090 m / 3,576 ft) from the Monte San Biagio train station near the town of Fondi, try the local products of Lazio: pickled olives and olive oil, spinach pie, local “Circeo” sparkling wine, and others. The most famous dessert of the region is Millefoglie, a tort.

The Apennines Ski Resorts

For skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, there are more than 70 ski resorts in the Apennines, which are located throughout the range, but mainly in its northern, central and even southern parts, where you will find most of the resorts, including also the largest of them. It is also the second main area for skiing in Italy after the Alps.

The largest ski resort in the Apennines is Alto Sangro (Roccaraso, and Rivisondoli) with more than 90 km (mi) of slopes and more than 20 ski lifts. It is located in the province of L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region in central Italy in the namesake Abruzzo Apennines at an altitude between 1,309 and 2,141 m (4,294 and 7,024 ft) with a difference of 832 m (2,729 ft). It is the nearest ski resort to the towns of Roccaraso and Rivisondoli in its name, but also to Aremogna. There are no large cities nearby. The resort is best suitable for easy and intermediate skiing—most of its slopes are blue and red. However, for advanced skiers, it has more than 20 km (12 mi) of black slopes each. The most common types of ski lifts are a chairlift and a T-bar. The Alto Sangro season is from early December to early April in general.

Ski Resort, Roccaraso, Apennines, Italy


Other major areas for skiing in the Apennines with more than 10 km (6 mi) of slopes and more than 5 ski lifts each include the following in descending order of size:

  • Cimone in Emilia-Romagna—the main ski resort near Bologna, as well as Genova for those who wants to ski in the Apennines rather than the Alps, which are closer
  • Abetone/​Val di Luce in Tuscany
  • Campo Felice–Rocca di Cambio in Abruzzo
  • Monte Magnola–Ovindoli in Abruzzo
  • Lorica in Calabria
  • Palumbosila in Calabria
  • Campitello Matese in Molise—the main ski resort near Naples (Important: as of Dec. 2022, the Laceno–Bagnoli Irpino Ski Resort, which is larger and closer, is temporary closed)
  • Prato Selva in Abruzzo
  • Doganaccia 2000–Cutigliano in Tuscany
  • Corno alle Scale–Lizzano in Belvedere in Emilia-Romagna
  • Campo Stella–Leonessa in Lazio
  • Schia–Monte Caio in Emilia-Romagna
  • Gran Sasso–Campo Imperatore in Abruzzo
  • Campo Catino in Lazio
  • Sassotetto–Santa Maria Maddalena in Marche
  • Selvarotonda–Cittareale in Lazio
  • Pratospilla in Emilia-Romagna
  • Eremo di Monte Carpegna in Marche—the main ski resort near Florence
  • Monte Amiata in Tuscany

The main ski resort near Rome is Monte Livata—Subiaco-Monna dell'Orso with more than 8 km (5 mi) of slopes and more than 4 ski lifts.

Check the Italy ski resorts map in the World Mountain Lifts section of the site. It includes information about open ski lifts / slopes in Italy in real-time with opening dates and hours. There are also year-round cable cars, funiculars, cog railways, aerial tramways, and all other types of mountain lifts.

Italy Ski Resorts Map

Tourist Information

Before or after hiking or skiing in the Apennines, visit one of the official tourist offices of this part of Italy. For example, in Pescara, the closest major city to Gran Sasso d'Italia Massif with the highest mountains, which is easily accessible from Rome in just three hours by train, bus or, of course, a car. Also check the official tourism site of Abruzzo region by the link below.

Ufficio IAT Pescara

Piazza della Rinascita



The mountain hut is the main type of accommodation when hiking and skiing in the Apennines, i.e. the same as in the Alps and other mountains. In my experience, unlike the Alps, there are considerably fewer of them in the Apennines, and they are therefore located farther apart from each other. In addition, the level of housing is also generally more simple. In other words, the system of huts in the Apennines is much weaker than in the Alps.

However, even in the more southern Italy, compared to the Alps, you can always find a place to sleep and rest. For example, in the same Gran Sasso and Laga Mountains National Park, these are the following huts: Rifugio Le Fontari, Rifugio Nicola D’arcangelo, Rifugio del Gran Sasso, Rifugio di Lago Racollo, Rifugio Fonte Vetica, Rifugio Orazio Delfico, and many others.

There are also many bivouacs in the Apennines. Hence another important detail: They are often called by the same word, "rifugio", as in the case of the last one in the list above, Orazio Delfico—just a small stone building with a bed inside. So study the map carefully before you go hiking. Or it could be a B&B as in the case of Rifugio del Pellegrino. In short, southern Italians, unlike northern ones, treat the term more loosely.

Rifugio, Hut in Apennenes, Italy

Another detail: As in northern Italy, the term also does not always mean housing at all, but only a restaurant, as in the case of Rifugio Bar Montecristo. Moreover, they may be open only in tourist season, on weekends, in good weather or holidays, and at other times simply closed. So check their schedules.

In case you have not found a hut or a shelter right in the mountains, you can always stay in dozens of other types of accommodation in towns and villages at the foot of the Apennines. Here I recommend the agriturismos, which are developed all over Italy and combine lodging and a farm restaurant in nature.

Cities and Resorts

The largest cities in the Apennines are the Italian regional capitals: Genova in Liguria, Florence in Tuscany, Rome in Lazio, Naples in Campania, and Palermo in Sicily. I assume you knew them before you read this guide.

Genova, Liguria, Italy


The largest city in the heart of the Apennines, the Gran Sasso Massif, is much less known, but I have also already named it—Pescara. But I didn’t tell you that the mountains are visible right from its promenade, or better yet, from the 466 m (1,528 ft) Ponte del Mare (The Sea Bridge), pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the Aterno-Pescara River, which flows here into the Adriatic Sea. It is the main modern architectural landmark of the city, the old part of which hides many historical buildings.

The second main city of this mountainous region, L’Aquila, is located on the opposite side of the massif, but in the valley of the same river. Like in Pescara, Gran Sasso rises over it. In particular, the city is surrounded by a series of peaks with an average height of 2,000 m (6,561 ft): Monte San Franco, Monte Orsello, Monte Ocre, and Cima di Monte Bolza, among others. The city’s main architectural landmarks are the L’Aquila Cathedral and Spanish Fort (yes, built by the Spanish), which today houses the National Museum of Abruzzo (National Museum of Abruzzo—MUNDA), so you have two reasons to visit it.

Spanish Fort, L’Aquila, Italy

Spanish Fort, L’Aquila

Do you see where I'm going with this? Similar pairs of cities and resorts on the sea coast and on the hills or mountains can be made literally throughout the peninsula—in other words, in the Apennines and the Antiapennines: Rome—Tivoli, Naples—Caserta, Florence—Lucca, Genova—Cairo Montenotte.

The latter, along with other towns, is interesting because it is located between the Apennines and the Alps, where you can find their exact boundaries. Well, to try.

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