Suess divides the Mediterranean basin into four physical regions, which afford probably the best means of description: (I) The western Mediterranean, from Gibraltar to Malta and Sicily, enclosed by the Apennines, the mountains of northern Africa, and of southern and south-eastern Spain (Cordillere betique).
(2) The Adriatic, occupying the space between the Apennines and the Dinaric group (Suess compares the Adriatic to the valley of the Brahmaputra).
VOLTURNO (anc. Volturnus, from volvere, to roll), a river of central Italy, which rises in the neighbourhood of Alfedena in the central Apennines of Samnium, runs S.
Parma, one of the finest cities of northern Italy, lies in a fertile tract of the Lombard plain, within view of the Alps and sheltered by the Apennines, 170 ft.
The story is well known; two years before his death Francis went up Mount Alverno in the Apennines with some of his disciples, and after forty days of fasting and prayer and contemplation, on the morning of the 14th of September 1224 (to use Sabatier's words), "he had a vision: in the warm rays of the rising sun he discerned suddenly a strange figure.
While the Alps thus constitute the northern boundary of Italy, configuration and internal geography are determined almost entirely by the great chain of the Apennines, which branches off from the Maritime Alps between Nice and Genoa, and, after etching in an unbroken line from the Gulf of Genoa to the Adriatic, turns more to the south, and is continued throughout Central and Southern Italy, of which it forms as it were the back-bone, until it ends in the southernmost extremity of Calabria at Cape Spartivento.
One chief result of the manner in which the Apennines traverse Italy from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic is the marked division between Northern Italy, including the region north of the Apennines and extending thence to the foot of the Alps, and the central and more southerly portions of the peninsula.
By far the larger portion of Northern Italy is occupied by the basin of the Po, which comprises the whole of the broad plain extending from the foot of the Apennines to that of the Alps, together with the valleys and slopes on both sides of it.
In a direct line&mdsah;the Po receives all the waters that flow from the Apennines northwards, and all those that descend from the Alps towards the south, Mincio (the outlet of the Lake of Garda) inclusive.
This is most clearly marked on the side of the Apennines, where the great Aemilian Way, which has been the high road from the time of the Romans to our own, preserves an unbroken straight line from Rimini to Piacenza, a distance of more than 150 m., during which the underfalls of the mountains continually approach it on the left, without once crossing the line of road.
The narrow strip of coast-land between the Maritime Alps, the Apennines and the sea—called in ancient times Liguria, and now known as the Riviera of Genoa—is throughout its extent, from Nice to Genoa on the one side, and from Genoa to Spezia on the other, almost wholly mountainous.
The Apennines (q.v.), as has been already mentioned, here traverse the whole breadth of Italy, cutting off the peninsula properly so termed from the broader mass of Northern Italy by a continuous barrier of considerable breadth, though of far inferior elevation to that of the Alps The Ligurian Apennines may be considered as taking their rise in the neighborhood of Savona, where a pass of very moderate elevation connects them with the Maritime Alps, of which they are in fact only a continuation.
This is the highest point in the northern Apennines, and belongs to a group of summits of nearly equal altitude; the range which is continued thence between Tuscany and what are now known as the Emilian provinces presents a continuous ridge from the mountains at the head of the Val di Mugello (due north of Florence) to the point where they are traversed by the celebrated Furlo Pass.
Throughout this tract the Apennines are generally covered with extensive forests of chestnut, oak and beech; while their upper slopes afford admirable pasturage.
In width, between the crest of the Apennines and the plain of the Po, is one of the least known and at the same time least interesting portions of Italy.
The geography of Central Italy is almost wholly determined by the Apennines, which traverse it in a direction from about north-north-east to south-south-west, almost precisely parallel to that of the coast of the Adriatic from Rimini to Pescara.
In this part of the range almost all the highest points of the Apennines are found.
Proceeding thence southwards, we find in succession the Monte Vettore (8128 ft.), the Pizzo di Sevo (7945 ft.), and the two great mountain masses of the Monte Corno, commonly called the Gran Sasso d'Italia, the most lofty of all the Apennines, attaining to a height of 9560 ft., and the Monte della Maiella, its highest summit measuring 9170 ft.
But the Apennines of Central Italy, instead of presenting, like the Alps and the northern Apennines, a definite central ridge, with transverse valleys leading down from it on both sides, in reality constitute a mountain mass of very considerable breadth, composed of a number of minor ranges and groups of mountains, which preserve a generally parallel direction, and are separated by upland valleys, some of them of considerable extent as well as considerable elevation above the sea.
This constitution of the great mass of the central Apennines has in all ages exercised an important influence upon the character of this portion of Italy, which may be considered as divided by nature into two great regions, a cold and barren upland country, bordered on both sides by rich and fertile tracts, enjoying a warm but temperate climate.
The district west of the Apennines, a region of great beauty and fertility, though inferior in productiveness to Northern Italy, coincides in a general way with the countries familiar to all students of ancient history as Etruria and Latium.
The northern part of Tuscany is indeed occupied to a considerable extent by the underfalls and offshoots of the Apennines, which, besides the slopes and spurs of the main range that constitutes its northern frontier towards the plain of the Po, throw off several outlying ranges or groups.
In this part the Apennines are separated from the sea, distant about 30 m.
South of Palestrina again, the main mass of the Apennines throws off another lateral mass, known in ancient times as the Volscian mountains (now called the Monti Lepini), separated from the central ranges by the broad valley of the Sacco, a tributary of the Liri (Liris) or Garigliano, and forming a large and rugged mountain mass, nearly 5000 ft.
Besides these offshoots of the Apennines there are in this part of Central Italy several detached mountains, rising almost like islands on the seashore, of which the two most remarkable are the Monte Argentaro on the coast of Tuscany near Orbetello (2087 ft.) and the Monte Circello (1771 ft.) at the angle of the Pontine Marshes, by the whole breadth of which it is separated from the Volscian Apennines.
The Arno, which has its source in the Monte Falterona, one of the most elevated summits of the main chain of the Tuscan Apennines, flows nearly south till in the neighborhood of Arezzo it turns abruptly north-west, and pursues that course as far as Pontassieve, where it again makes a sudden bend to the west, and pursues a westerly course thence to the sea, passing through Florence and Pisa.
The Tiber, a much more important river than the Arno, and the largest in Italy with the exception of the Po, rises in the Apennines, about 20 m.
They may be enumerated, proceeding from Rimini southwards: (1) the Foglia; (2) the Metauro, of historical celebrity, and affording access to one of the most frequented passes of the Apennines; (3) the Esino; (4) the Potenza; (5) the Chienti; (6) the Aso; (7) the Tronto; (8) the Vomano; (9) the Aterno; (10) the Sangro; (11) the Trigno, which forms the boundary of the southernmost province of the Abruzzi, and may therefore be taken as the limit of Central Italy.
The great central mass of the Apennines, which has held its course throughout Central Italy, with a general direction from north-west to south-east, may be considered as continued in the same direction for about 100 m.
This mountainous tract, which has an average breadth of from 50 to 60 m., is bounded west by the plain of Campania, now called the Terra di Lavoro, and east by the much broader and more extensive tract of Apulia or Puglia, composed partly of level plains, but for the most part of undulating downs, contrasting strongly with the mountain ranges of the Apennines, which rise abruptly above them.
On the east side in like manner the Monte Gargano (3465 ft.), a detached limestone mass which projects in a bold spur-like promontory into the Adriatic, forming the only break in the otherwise uniform coast-line of Italy on that sea, though separated from the great body of the Apennines by a considerable interval of low country, may be considered as merely an outlier from the central mass.
From the neighborhood of Potenza, the main ridge of the Apennines is continued by the Monti della Maddalena in a direction nearly due south, so that it approaches within a short distance of the Gulf of Policastro, whence it is carried on as far as the Monte Pollino, the last of the lofty summits of the Apennine chain, which exceeds 7000 ft.
While the rugged and mountainous district of Calabria, extending nearly due south for a distance of more than 150 m., thus derives its character and configuration almost wholly from the range of the Apennines, the long spur-like promontory which projects towards the east to Brindisi and Otranto is merely a continuation of the low tract of Apulia, with a dry calcareous soil of Tertiary origin.
The Liri (Liris) or Garigliano, which has its source in the central Apennines above Sora, not far from Lake Fucino, and enters the Gulf of Gaeta about 10 m.
Below this the watershed of the Apennines is too near to the sea on that side to allow the formation of any large streams. Hence the rivers that flow in the opposite direction into the Adriatic and the Gulf of Taranto have much longer courses, though all partake of the character of mountain torrents, rushing down with great violence in winter and after storms, but dwindling in the summer into scanty streams, which hold a winding and sluggish course through the great plains of Apulia.
(5) The Bradano, which rises near Venosa, almost at the foot of Monte Volture, flows towards the south-east into the Gulf of Taranto, as do the Basento, the Agri and the Sinni, all of which descend from the central chain of the Apennines south of Potenza.
All the other lakes of Central Italy, which are scattered through the volcanic districts west of the Apennines, are of an entirely difierent formation, and occupy deep cup-shaped hollows, which have undoubtedly at one time formed the craters of extinct volcanoes.
The geology of Italy is mainly dependent upon that of the Apennines (q.v.).
The Roman district, the largest of the four, extends from the hills of Albano to the frontier of Tuscany, and from the lower slopes of the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The Apulian volcanic formation consists of the great mass of Monte Volture, which rises at the west end of the plains of Apulia, on the frontier of Basilicata, and is surrounded by the Apennines on its south-west and north-west sides.
Throughout the region north of the Apennines no plants will thrive which cannot stand occasional severe frosts in winter, so that not only oranges and lemons but even the olive tree cannot be grown, except in specially favoured situations.
But the strip of coast between the Apennines and the sea, known as the Riviera of Genoa, is not only extremely favourable to the growth of olives, but produces oranges and lemons in abundance, while even the aloe, the cactus and the palm flourish in many places.
Even in the central parts of Tuscany, however, the climate is very much affected by the neighboring mountains, and the increasing elevation of the Apennines as they proceed south produces a corresponding effect upon the temperature.
But it is when we reach the central range of the Apennines that we find the coldest districts of Italy.
The Calabrian Alps, the less rocky sides of the Apulian Murgie and the whole length of the Apennines are covered at different heights, according to their situation.
(4) The region of chestnuts extends from the valleys to the high plateaus of the Alps, along the northern slopes of the Apennines in Liguria, Modena, Tuscany, Romagna, Umbria, the Marches and along the southern Apennines to the Calabrian and Sicilian ranges, as well as to the mountains of Sardinia.
(5) The wooded region covers the Alps and Apennines above the chestnut level.
It is clear, however, that the Celtic and Etruscan elements together occupied the greater part of the district between the Apennines and the Alps down to its Romanization, which took place gradually in the course of the 2nd century B.C. Their linguistic neighbors were Ligurian in the south and south-west, and the Veneti on the east.
At first, indeed, the term was apparently confined to the regions of the central and southern districts, exclusive of Cisalpine Gaul and the whole tract north of the Apennines, and this continued to be the official or definite signification of the name down to the end of the republic. But the natural limits of Italy are so clearly marked that the name came to be generally employed as a geographical term at a much earlier period.
NOLA, a city and episcopal see of Campania, Italy, in the province of Caserta, pleasantly situated in the plain between Mount Vesuvius and the Apennines, 164 m.