101 Italy on TrailMountains The Basics!

by Maria E. Bellini

Introducing Italy’s two major mountain ranges…the mighty Alps and the wild Apennines…Both offer plenty of spectacular trails and routes that will fuel your love for trail running and hiking in incredible settings at whatever speed you wish.

The Alps cover the width of northern Italy, whilst the Apennines run vertically down the length of boot shaped Italy. Both the Italian Alps and Apennines are divided into smaller ranges. If you would like to learn more about how the mountain ranges are divided you can read about the Partition of the Alps and also about the subsections of the Apennines.

An introduction to the Alps and Apennines - Italy's two major mountain ranges

At a glance….


Length of range approx: 1,200km (930 mi) run through Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
Width of range approx: 128 to 225km (80 – 140 mi)
In Italy – start from east to west: Colle di Cadibona, in Liguria, and carry on across Italy through to Slovenia
Shape: a horizontal arc
Main divisions: 3 – Devised in the 1926 “Partition of the Alps” which divides the Alps into three main sections (with subdivisions):
Western AlpsAlpi occidentali in Italian
– Central AlpsAlpi centrali in Italian
– Eastern AlpsAlpi orientali in Italian
Highest peak: Monte Bianco on Italian/French border 4,810 metres (15,782 ft)


length of range approx: 1,500km (930 mi)
Width of range approx: 30 to 250km (18 – 155 mi)
In Italy – start from north to south: the northern region of Liguria and finish in the southern region of Sicily
Shape: a vertical arc, often known as the spine, or backbone of Italy
Main divisions:  3 (each chain has ulterior divisione)
– Northern Apennines – Appennino settentrionale in Italian
– Central Apennines – Appennino centrale in Italian
– Southern Apennines – Appennino meridionale in Italian
Highest peak: Corno Grande, Gran Sasso 2,912 m (9,554 ft)

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.

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