The Apennine of Emilia and Tuscany

appennino tosco emiliano(Click to see the map in a separate sheet)

 1. Introduction

2. Places

3. Posts


1. The Apennine of Emilia and Tuscany: introduction

The Apennine of Emilia and Tuscany: quite easy to say where it starts, less clear where it ends. The Cisa pass is almost a corner stone, as a starting point. Then we have to find the border with the part of Tuscany and Romagna.  A tribute to localism, but also to the clear differences of landscape morphology. Differences also in the geological structure, however a topic in which I am not expert enough to use it as a classification criterium. Therefore, I basically follow my nose, so that a doubt will remain, in this classification. This will leave everybody free to attribute  the transitional area either to Emilia or Romagna. “Tuscan”, in any case, even if between people from Florence and Lucca the level of parochialism is not less than what exists between people from Emilia and Romagna. But in the paople from Garfangana, Casentino, Frignano, and in all the other mountain people, you will find the same traits, the ones that could conquer and never abandon you, a bit the reasons of  più di 1000.

So, let’s come back to our trip. The first strecth of this part of the Apennine is well characterised. From the Cisa pass, after the Cirone pass,  the main Apennine range rises to what is called the high Apennine, the part where you can breeze high mountain air and meet the top vegetation. This range will go on, almost straight, from the parma to the Bologna provinces, always marking the border between the Emilia and Tuscany regions.

rossena castle

the rossena castle, a famous destination of the reggio hill belt; one of the several possible escursions of the lower emilia valleys

On the Emilia side, the rivers flow almost parallel to the Po river, until the plain, generating long vallays and ridges, with a common structure: the high and middle mountains, the hill belt, then the plains. Such a structure is already present in the parts of the Piacenza and Parma provinces, where however the high mountains are subtantially missing. As a convention, the high Apennine is classified as a function of the administrative limits on the Emilia side, and the related river basins. therefore, the Parma Apennine, with the river Parma and Enza valleys; the Reggio Apennine, with Enza and Secchia valleys; the Modena Apennine, with the Secchia and Panaro valleys, the the Bologna bApennine, between Panaro and Reno. Also the hilly and plain areas are full of interesting things, that we however tend to neglect, since they are a bit more diffuse, with respect to the higher concentration of the Tusnay side: castles, anciant villages and landscape sights however do not lack.



pontremoli, lunigiana, one of the main historical centres of the tuscan side of the apennine of emilia and tuscany

The Tuscany side is strongly characterising this part of the Apennine.  It starts with the relatively short part, still belonging to Lunigiana, centred on Pontremoli, to which the upper river Serchio valley, the Garfagnana, follows. Then, when river Serchio goes south, to turn around the last Apuanian Alps slopes, after the  Bagni di Lucca  knot, the river Lima valley follows. The upper Serchio and Lima valleys run almost parallel to the main ridge, in opposite direction, Then the LIma valleys turn north, towards the  Abetone pass, and the ridge becomes a bit winding, keeping its height until mount Corno alle Scale, then becomes lower and the high Apennine ends. I will therefore adopt a somewhat different partitioning from the one that is commonly used, for this part of the trip.

After the high Apennine of the Bologna province, a sort of transitional part starts. On the Emilia side, we are now within the Reno river valley, not flowing to river Po anymore. On the Toscana side the rivers already flow to river Arno. the main dividing ridge winds a bit. Here you cannot still talk about being in Romagna. The Toscana region borders go to the north of the divifing ridge, that here goes down to the lowest quotes.

Let’s say that a first land mark is represented by the  Futa pass, where the ridge takes again a substantially straight direction, with a NO – SE orientation. To the east, the Firenzuola basin is still administratively Tuscany, but the valley is that of river Santerno, flowing north to Imola, province of Bologna, but culturally already in Romagna ! The following pass in the Giogo di Scarperia, still overlooking the Firenzuola basin, and the Santerno valley, to the north, and the Sieve valley, to the south. then the ridge reaches the pass of  Colla di Casaglia, where the Firenzuola basins borders the Lamone river valle; a bit lower, to the north, the river Senio springs: rivers starting in Toscana, but definitely belonging to the Romagna region; to the south , it is still Sieve river valley. Among the rivers flowing north, Santerno and Senio are still tributaries of the Reno, whereas Lamone freely flows to the Adriatic sea. Therefore here we have no doubts anymore: the Tuscany-Emilia already became Tuscany-Romagna. So you can decide: between the Futa and Colla di Casaglia passes there is the upper Santerno valley and the transition is accomplished; put the limit wherever you want. For a matter of convenience, I will use the Futa pass.


2. The Apennine of Emilia and Tuscany: places

 The Apennine of Parma, Reggio and Lunigiana

orsaro braiola fog, from marmagna

mounts orsaro and braiola tops, overlooking the lunigiana valley fogs


Where the Apennine raises. Still Tuscany, with Ligurian influences, that will then fade. On the other side, the transition from Parma to Reggio provinces. It is still possible to have sight on the sea, that will not immediately diseppear hereafter, but will become less easy to see. And here are the first high mountains of the Apennine.



The Apennine of Reggio, Modena and Garfagnana

apuane from prado top

a sight on the apuanian alps, from mount, apennine of reggio and garfagnana


The Apennine and Garfagnana, with its midde ages villages facing the Apuanian Alps, thatgenerally  cover the sight of the sea. Side chains on both sides of the main ridge, where we can extend our hikes. Still famous and visited mountains, lakes and high mountain meadows.



The Apennine of Modena, Bologna and Pistoia

cimone from roccapelago

mount cimone, from the roccapelago village church


Mount Cimone, the highest top. Then it is still high ridge, towards the river Reno springs. the last view on the far Versilia coast line and views on the Apennine of Romagna, on the other side. Here starts the Apennine with mountains forested to the tops, that will accompany our trips for a long traits still.



The Apennine of Bologna and Florence, of the Reno valley, between Emilia and Romagna

castellaccio montovolo mount vigese

the silhouettes of montovolo and mount vigese, from the historical settlement of castellaccio, bologna apennine


The transition. The river flowing north do not go to the Po anymore; we start in Emilia and end in Romagna, bordering the upper valley of the Reno river and its tributaries. On the side of Toscana, we are in the Arno river valley. The ridge lowers and becomes winding, covered with almost endless forests.