The most famous marble in the world, Carrara’s white marble, is extracted here in their quarries. They are known as the “montagne irripetibili” (Italian for unique mountains) for their picturesque nature: sharp ridges, vertiginous walls, gorges and precipices close to Versilia’s beaches. These are the Apuan Alps, the favourite destination of trekking enthusiasts and those who love high-altitude excursions. There is often a legend for every mountaintop, stories deeply rooted in local traditions and that endured the passing of time. One of the most coveted peaks are Pania Secca and Pania della Croce, the highest of the Panie mountain range with its old glaciers, Mount Tambura, mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy’s Hell and Mount Sumbra, the mountain that changes depending on the perspective. Then there is Mount Forato, which fascinates excursionists from all over the world for its natural arch, the “hole” that formed across the centuries due to the erosive action water and wind on the limestone rock.
Every summer solstice, a number of tourists and enthusiasts gather on the meadows around the village of Pruno to see the sun rise at dawn through the hole: an ancient pagan tradition dating back to the pre-Roman period and that still continues today. Mount Matanna, with its green meadows and many trails, has always been a family destination for fun picnics.
Finally Pizzo della Caranca, a peak that can be admired with its 1946 metres from the charming Gramolazzo Lake and better known as Monte Pisanino. According to the legend, this is where two soldiers from Pisa died and found shelter in Garfagnana after being accused of treason by their army. One of the two soldiers died straight away, the other one was injured and survived thanks to the loving care of a young woman who lived in the area. He never revealed his name, which is why he was nicknamed “Il Pisanino”. Unfortunately he didn’t survive either and was buried in the garden of the young woman, who cried on his grave every day. Each tear shed by the young woman turned into a stone and this is how, one stone at a time, the highest mountain of the Apuan Alps formed in that garden and took the name of the young man who never said his name.