The Partition of the Alps

101 Italy on Trail – Mountains – the basics!

by Maria E. Bellini

“The Partition of the Alps”

Stretching approximately 1,200 km across eight countries –  France, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia, the Alps are Europe’s largest mountain range forming a rainbow shaped arc that touches along all of northern Italy. Along with the Apennines, the Alps form Italy’s mountains, you can see an overview of the Alps and the Apennines in this article.

How are the Alps organised? There are so many different names and ranges!

Today, the Alps are divided in accordance with the “The Partition of The Alps” – Partizione delle Alpi  adapted in 1926 by the National Geographic Committee (Comitato Geografico Nazionale).

This sees the Alps on Italian soil placed into three main sections: Western Alps, Central Alps and Eastern Alps. Each section has further subsections.

However in 2005 there was an unofficial proposal named “SOIUSA” lead by the Italian researcher and Alpinist, Sergio Marazzi, outlining a bipartition of the Alpine System into: Western Alps and Eastern Alps. Many aspects of the 1926 Partition of the Alps were challenged, although as of today (2016 n.d.r.) the “Partizione delle Alpi” still remains the official way in which the Italian Alps are divided.

The Partizione delle Alpi “The Partition of The Alps” adapted in 1926, this sees the Alps on Italian soil divided into three sections - Western Alps, Central Alps and Eastern Alps. Each section has further subsections.

Listed below are the sub-divisions of the three main sectionsWestern Alps, Central Alps and Eastern Alps.

Following this, each section has ulterior divisions with numerous mountain ranges! Bearing in mind that the Alps in Italy stretch for over approximately 600km, it stands to reason that the Alpine landscape, culture, and characteristics change over distance.

Western Alps

  • Maritime Alps
  • Cottian Alps
  • Graian Alps

Central Alps

  • Pennine Alps
  • Lepontine Alps
  • Rhaetian Alps
  • Lombard Prealps

Eastern Alps

  • Noric Alps
  • Dolomites
  • Carnic Alps
  • Julian Alps
  • Venetian Alps
  • Karst

The illustration of “The Partition of the Alps” has been created by http://www.italyontrail.com using part of an image by Jo Weber [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


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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