With over 30,000 meters of level gain spread out over 501km, Italy’s longest ultra trail, the AVP501 covers an impressive amount of hills and mountainous terrain.

Of Pilgrims and Saints

In our previous article regarding the AVP501 endurance trail we saw how the race route crosses many places connected with spirituality and faith. The race takes place along the Long Distance Hiking Trail – – The Alta Via Dei Parchi, a route where not only will you be surrounded by the beauty of nature but where you will also meet with a significant amount of sanctuaries, monasteries, chapels, and places of retreat.

Ample Cut-Off time

With a generous cut off time of 200 hours, 8 days and nights, this is a race where trail runners will be able to apprecaite their surroundings.

There are four main areas of interest that we’re covering in a series of article regarding the AVP501:

Spirituality – Mountains – Nature & Villages

In this, our second article on the AVP501 race route, we’ll be looking at the Kings of the Route.

AVP501 – Five Notable Peaks

We’re in central northern Italy. The race route follows Italy’s long distance hiking trail, the “Alta via dei Parchi”. It crosses three regions: Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Le Marche. The mountain range is the Apennines, which you can read more about here.

We asked co-race director, Fabrizio Foglia, to list 5 notable mountains that the AVP501 race route covers:

#1 Monte Falterona m.1654

View of Monte Falterona from the summit of Monte Falco By Elwhajeff at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20244704
View of Monte Falterona from the summit of Monte Falco By Elwhajeff at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Set in Italy’s Foreste Casentinesi National Park, this is one of the two highest mountains in the Tuscan-Romagnolo Apennine range.

Right on the border with Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, this is also where we can find the source of the river Arno, which flows through Florence and Pisa.

It’s also the location for one of the most particular Etruscan Archeological sites ever to have come to light. Right by Lago degli Idoli – where in 1838 over 600 bronze statuettes were discovered along with more than 2000 other votives. Many of these objects were dispersed throughout the ages, and today a few can be found in several museums, including the British museum.

#2 Monte Mauro m. 515

Di Giorgio Sagrini - opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://it.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1690483
Monte Mauro – by Giorgio Sagrini – own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Further along the AVP501 race route comes the small but hardy, Monte Mauro, situated in the Parco Regionale della Vena del Gesso Romagnola  – the Romagnola Chalk Vein Regional Park.

This area is characterized by a sea of numerous gullies and badlands. As for the chalk vein…, well that’s actually Gypsum –which is a hard white or grey mineral chiefly occurring in sedimentary deposits, and is used to make plaster of Paris, and in the building industry. The silvery gypsum mineral is clearly visible along parts of the trail giving an almost magical, glassy look.

#3 Monte Libro Aperto m. 1936

Lorenzo Pavani [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Monte Rotondo – Lorenzo Pavani CC BY-SA 3.0  via Wikimedia Commons
“Open Book Mountain” – Monte Libro Aperto… now you can’t help but fall in love with a name like that!

This mount, is in fact made up of two summits, Monte Rotondo which translates into a pleasing ‘Round Mountain’ (1.937 m s.l.m.) and Monte Belvedere (1.896 m s.l.m.) which tanslates to ‘Beautiful View Mountain’.

Again we’re on the border between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, although officially part of the High Modena Apennines. The area is known for some potent views that stretch to the Alps, and to the Mediterranean sea.

#4 Monte Sillara m. 1861

Monte Sillara - North view by Giuseppe Gabelli at it.wikipedia
Monte Sillara – North view by Giuseppe Gabelli at it.wikipedia

Situated along the noteworthy ridgeline that separates Lunigiana and Parma, we reach Monte Sillara.

A stunning setting to two glacial lakes, the Sillara superiore (11.400 m², at 1.732 m.) and the Sillara inferiore (11.350 m², at 1.731 m.). During periods of heavy rain, it’s not unusual for these two lakes to fill up and burst their banks, only to join and form one large lake.

#4 Monte Orsaro m. 1831

By euparkeria (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Monte Orsaro and Braiola – By euparkeria (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0  via Wikimedia Commons
Nearing Berceto, as we approach the end of the AVP501 endurance trail, we also happen to encounter one of the races’ most epic mountains, Monte Orsaro.

Legend has it that it got it’s name from the bears (Orso in Italian) that inhabited the mountain, way back in the seventh century!

A dramatic mountain that stands proudly in Italy’s Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park, near to Lago Santo, the largest glacial lake in Emilia-Romagna.

If you want to know more about the AVP501 Endurance trail, you can read our presentation here, and visit the official website.


Maria E. BelliniMaria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.