The Apuan Alps are known throughout the world for their fine high-quality
marble, quarried since Roman times and widely used by the great sculptors.
They also occupy a chapter in the history of Italian mountain-climbing,
and fully deserve to be called Alps.
Established in a much older geological era than the Apennines, their
bold precipitous forms contrast sharply with the gentle Lucchese hills
from which they arise, and from the plain they appear to be a mass of
spires piled on top of each other. Although they are less than two thousand
metres high, these peaks have vertical calcareous rock faces which have
long provoked the interest of men living in Pisa, Lucca, and Firenze,
above all that of naturalists, who ventured onto these mountains from
the 17th century onwards to search out and classify plants, flowers, and
animals. They range from the maestro of Galileo, Andrea Cesalpino, to
the botanist of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Father Silvio Bocconi, who
went to the Panie range to seek out herbal plants and remedies. These
mountains have generated the scientific fervour of geographers, geologists,
and naturalists, who were the first to grasp the peculiarity of these
mountains which, though within sight of the Mediterranean sea, still today
preserve a rare Alpine flora which dates back to the glacial period. It
is interesting to note that Dante Alighieri and Boccaccio respectively
called them Petrapana and Petra Apuana Mons, and the etymology of the
name Apuan Alps lies in the term Pania that derives from the lexical root
Pen (penna = peak). And there is little doubt that the two southern peaks
are the most imposing and majestic of the whole range.