Peak Experience: Italy’s Stunning Mountain Landscapes

Spring will soon be here, and for the intrepid, it’s time to start thinking of where to travel. I am a mountains person, and in this post, I like to share about two mountainous regions in Italy that are so beautiful, they make you feel like you’re in another world.

The Apennines 

The Apennine Mountains tend to receive far less attention than Italy’s mighty Dolomites, though it is impressive in its own way. For starters, it is the “Spine of Italy”, given the fact that it runs almost the whole length of Italy, from Liguria in the North to the tip of Calabria in the South, and even onto the island of Sicily, over a distance of about 1,200 km (750 miles).

The mountains in the range are generally named for the province or provinces in which they are located; for example, the Ligurian Apennines are in Liguria. The Abruzzi Apennines, located in Abruzzo province in southern Italy contain the highest peaks and the most rugged terrain of the Apennines. Corno Grande (Italian for “great horn”) is the highest point in the Apennine Mountains. Part of the Gran Sasso massif, its summit is 2,912m (9,554 ft) from sea level, making it the highest peak of the Italian Peninsula outside of the Alps, Historically, Abruzzo and the surrounding areas are known as the territory where the Italic peoples were first defeated by the city of Rome.

The Apennines offer hikers and bikers an amazing playground of quiet valleys and passes among forests of chestnut, oak, and beech trees. A network of secondary roads departs from the valleys formed by the rivers that spring near the mountain peaks.

The Via Francigena (St. Francis’ Way) is an ancient trail that took pilgrims on an epic journey from Canterbury, England; across the channel to France, through Switzerland before crossing Italy on their way to Rome. In time to come, it may be as famous as the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It crosses over the Apennine mountains between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany regions in northern Italy.

Corno Grane (“The Great Horn”) situated in Abruzzo, southern Italy. At 2,912 m (9,554 ft) in it is the highest peak in the Apennine range.

Rocca Calascio fotress, province of L’Aquila, Abruzzo, south Italy.

Perched at more than 1400 metres high on the tip of a ridge, the medieval castle known as Rocca Calascio is among the highest fortifications in Italy, and one of the most spectacular sites nestled in the vast and wild mountain landscape of the Apennine Mountains. The history of this mysterious castle dates to the Norman period of the 11th century. The majestic structure has inspired numerous films such as “In the Name of the Rose” and “Ladyhawke”. In foreground is the small octagonal church of Santa Maria della Pietà, built in 1596 on the place where, according to legend, the local population defeated the brigands.

Rocca Calascio fotress, province of L’Aquila, Abruzzo, south Italy.

The Church of Santa Maria della Pietà. An octagonal building erected in 1596. According to legend, the people of Rocca Calascio built the church after defeating a band of brigands. Inside, there is a depiction of the Miraculous Virgin Mary and a sculpture of an armed St Michael. The church, now a simple oratory, is visited by the faithful and the devout.

The Dolomite Mountains

The staggering Dolomites – an alpine mountain range that decorates the Northern Italian province of Trentino – look as if they belong in the wilderness of Patagonia or the Canadian Rockies. The breathtaking mountains are snow-dusted throughout the year. They have long played second fiddle to the Swiss Alps. even though the skiing is world-famous and summer is pleasant, with warm days and cool evenings that enhance the stunning views of mountains, not to mention ancient towns scattered over its vast area of 141,903 ha. As mountains go, the Dolomites are not particularly high, numbering eight peaks which rise to no more than 3,343 m (10,968 ft). But the area features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys. In 2009, UNESCO declared the Dolomites a World Heritage Site, thus joining it to the list of the world’s protected natural paradises.

The Val di Funes (Funes Valley) pictured here is situated on the edge of the Dolomites, north of Lake Garda.

The San Giovanni Church, one of two iconic churches in the Funes Valley. The backdrop of San Giovanni church is the Seceda Ridgeline. The Seceda Ridgeline and the Puez Odle Nature Park feature some of the most panoramic views of the Dolomites mountain range along its entire way. The other church, the Santa Maddalena (next pic) is located a bit further away.

The Santa Maddalena, Funes Valley.

Walking along the famed Seceda Ridgeline.

Riva del Garda at Sunrise in Winter, Lake Garda, Trentino, Dolomites, northeast Italy.

The Three Peaks of Laverado (Tre Cime Leverado) are three distinctive battlement-like peaks in the Dolomites of northeast Italy. The highest point is about 3,000m.

Gorgeous reflections on the shore of a pond in front of the Pale di San Martino (the Pala group), which is the largest massif of the Dolomites, Baita G. Segantini, north east Italy.

Pale di San Martino under the stars.

Alpe Di Siusi on a snowy autumn morning. With rolling meadows, scarcely erected huts and dramatic mountain range as the backdrop, Alpe Di Siusi is the definition of the Italian Dolomites.

Cinque Torri. As with all the other mountains in the area, the rocks that make up Cinque Torri are made of dolomite, with a particular pale grey colour. The group is formed by five towers (which give the name to the mountain) with a maximum elevation of 2,361 m. Over the years the ethereal landscape of Cinque Torri has become rock climbers and photographers’ favorite.

Cima Cadin. Cima Cadin (2,839 m) is one of the most recognizable peaks in the Dolomites. It is also the highest peak in the Cadini di Misurina group of mountains in the eastern Dolomites situated in the province of Belluno, Italy.

Vajolet Towers. A spectacular sunset view of the difficult-to-reach Vajolet Towers, which comprise six summits located in the Rosengarten Nature Park in South Tyrol, Italy. The province is the northernmost of Italy, sharing its border with Austria.

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