Itineraries for tourists
this month we take you for a walk in the Apuan Alps, a botanical patrimony....

The road leading to Pian della Fioba (1000 mts a. s. l.) is not very smooth, but thanks to several remaking of these last years, is accessible as other mountain roads. But if you have the courage to cover these 20 km by car, you will be repaid enjoying the snow in winter and the green coolness of Pian della Fioba in summer. And you can over all get pleasure from the panorama of the Apuan Alps.
If you don't like the four-wheeled vehicles to climb a mountain, and if you are a good walker, you have the possibility to reach Pian della Fioba through one of the many paths recently recovered thanks to the interventions of some local bodies.
It is even easy to find by the way valuable works of art as the "Majesty" simple votive niches with marble bas-relief representing the Madonna.
Whichever route you keep at 900 meters a. s. l., you will reach the Tecchia, where the deep green is familiar (di casa), and with a last effort you get to Pian della Fioba, to the shelter of the Italian Alpine Club and to the botanical garden, our destinations.
As far as the botanical garden is concerned, we can tell that this little strip of land owes its name to Pietro Pellegrini, a botanist from Massa, who wrote some valuables work about the Apuan flora. The botanical garden allows us to admire in a single area, all the more characteristic plants of our mountains.
It has been created in 1956, by some Apuan Alps fans, which immediately started to collect the Apuan flora, adding to it also flora coming from other mountains. They have then classified the plants as in every considerable botanical garden.
If you want to visit it, look at the opening time:

Open every day - between 9.00 and 12.00 and between 16.00 and 19.00.
A photo of Pian della Fioba.

Vandelli street

The wedding of Maria Teresa, Alderano Cybo's daughter and heiress of the principality of Massa and Carrara, with the Crown Prince of the ducal family of Este Ercole Rinaldo, added Massa and Carrara to the dominions of Francesco III from Modena. The duke realized that the double barrier of the Tosco-Emilia Apennines and of the Apuan Alps divided his Emilia estate from those in the Tyrrhenian coast. The wish to create a direct line of communication induced him to conceive one of the most audacious technical realization of the time: the construction of a street which should cross the Apennines in San Pellegrino in Alpe and the Alps at the Pass of Tambura (1670 meters).

Vara's bridges.

The abbot Domenico Vandelli, a famous mathematician and engineer, was entrusted with this project and he started the work in 1738. Because of the difficulty of the undertaking and because of the Austrian War of Succession, the road was finished only in 1751. But it wasn't as its inventors would have wanted it: the roughness of the land, the steep slope and the presence of hard bends in the Apuan side didn't allow the transit of wheeled vehicles, in spite of the employ of a large number of labour (coming also from Savoy) and of all the available technical means of the time. Moreover during many months of the year the road was impracticable because of the snow.
Vandelli street didn't become a vital arterial road, as the Modenese governors had hoped and toward the half of 19th century it had already been quitted. The zone was moreover infested with brigands who, taking advantage of the lonely spot. robbed and killed the wayfarers. However it was an indispensable landmark for the crossed territories and it caused the foundation of some unheard of villages, like Resceto. All along the way, over all the more inhospitable points, there were several inns and refreshment-rooms, called "Casoni" (for ex. the "Casone of Campaniletti", on the massese side and the "Casone del Ferro" on the Vagli side, of which practically nothing is left; the Casoni of Arnetola, Caprareccia, Ripanaia Formignàcola, which are still visible in the Arnetola Valley even if they have been neglected).
In the Apuan side the Vandelli has been widely destroyed on the slope of Garfagnana; nevertheless it is possible to find at the head of the valley an ancient road-bed which rises sweetly and long among the beeches, towards the green terrace of Acqui Freddi, where a pleasant spring lies just under the Tambura Pass. Once you have reached the Pass (1670 meters), which was engraved from the Randelli Cut, on the ridge between Focoletta and Tambura, the road faces the dizzy slope leading to Resceto: about 1100 meters of fall of level in hardly 6 km. and 700 meters of an incredible zigzag path on bare calcareous slopes, which represents the most spectacular and better preserved part of the entire route.
The dry walls supporting the road bed in this part of the way have caved in, but they have been largely recovered, thanks to a clever restoration, which aims at bringing this valuable document of the past back to its ancient magnificence.
In the last bends before Resceto and in the tract leading to Canal Pianone, it is possible to observe characteristic holes, a testimony of the fact that the Vandelli was utilised as "lizza" way in the middle of the 19th century.
Only few pieces of the ancient road-bed remain from Resceto to Massa: it has been mostly covered with the successive tracing of the asphalt road.

The Maps

Pizzerie Restaurants
Farm holidays
Bathing establishments