The road leading
to Pian della Fioba (1000 mts a. s. l.) is not very smooth,
but thanks to several remaking of these last years, is accessible
as other mountain roads. But if you have the courage to cover
these 20 km by car, you will be repaid enjoying the snow in
winter and the green coolness of Pian della Fioba in summer.
And you can over all get pleasure from the panorama of the Apuan
If you don't like the four-wheeled vehicles to climb a mountain,
and if you are a good walker, you have the possibility to reach
Pian della Fioba through one of the many paths recently recovered
thanks to the interventions of some local bodies.
It is even easy to find by the way valuable works of art as
the "Majesty" simple votive niches with marble bas-relief
representing the Madonna.
Whichever route you keep at 900 meters a. s. l., you will reach
the Tecchia, where the deep green is familiar (di casa), and
with a last effort you get to Pian della Fioba, to the shelter
of the Italian Alpine Club and to the botanical garden, our
As far as the botanical garden is concerned, we can tell that
this little strip of land owes its name to Pietro Pellegrini,
a botanist from Massa, who wrote some valuables work about the
Apuan flora. The botanical garden allows us to admire in a single
area, all the more characteristic plants of our mountains.
It has been created in 1956, by some Apuan Alps fans, which
immediately started to collect the Apuan flora, adding to it
also flora coming from other mountains. They have then classified
the plants as in every considerable botanical garden.
If you want to visit it, look at the opening time:
Open every day - between
9.00 and 12.00 and between 16.00 and 19.00.
A photo of Pian della Fioba.
The wedding of Maria Teresa, Alderano Cybo's daughter and heiress
of the principality of Massa and Carrara, with the Crown Prince
of the ducal family of Este Ercole Rinaldo, added Massa and
Carrara to the dominions of Francesco III from Modena. The duke
realized that the double barrier of the Tosco-Emilia Apennines
and of the Apuan Alps divided his Emilia estate from those in
the Tyrrhenian coast. The wish to create a direct line of communication
induced him to conceive one of the most audacious technical
realization of the time: the construction of a street which
should cross the Apennines in San Pellegrino in Alpe and the
Alps at the Pass of Tambura (1670 meters).
The abbot Domenico Vandelli, a famous
mathematician and engineer, was entrusted with this project
and he started the work in 1738. Because of the difficulty of
the undertaking and because of the Austrian War of Succession,
the road was finished only in 1751. But it wasn't as its inventors
would have wanted it: the roughness of the land, the steep slope
and the presence of hard bends in the Apuan side didn't allow
the transit of wheeled vehicles, in spite of the employ of a
large number of labour (coming also from Savoy) and of all the
available technical means of the time. Moreover during many
months of the year the road was impracticable because of the
Vandelli street didn't become a vital arterial road, as the
Modenese governors had hoped and toward the half of 19th century
it had already been quitted. The zone was moreover infested
with brigands who, taking advantage of the lonely spot. robbed
and killed the wayfarers. However it was an indispensable landmark
for the crossed territories and it caused the foundation of
some unheard of villages, like Resceto. All along the way, over
all the more inhospitable points, there were several inns and
refreshment-rooms, called "Casoni" (for ex. the "Casone
of Campaniletti", on the massese side and the "Casone
del Ferro" on the Vagli side, of which practically nothing
is left; the Casoni of Arnetola, Caprareccia, Ripanaia Formignàcola,
which are still visible in the Arnetola Valley even if they
have been neglected).
In the Apuan side the Vandelli has been widely destroyed on
the slope of Garfagnana; nevertheless it is possible to find
at the head of the valley an ancient road-bed which rises sweetly
and long among the beeches, towards the green terrace of Acqui
Freddi, where a pleasant spring lies just under the Tambura
Pass. Once you have reached the Pass (1670 meters), which was
engraved from the Randelli Cut, on the ridge between Focoletta
and Tambura, the road faces the dizzy slope leading to Resceto:
about 1100 meters of fall of level in hardly 6 km. and 700 meters
of an incredible zigzag path on bare calcareous slopes, which
represents the most spectacular and better preserved part of
the entire route.
The dry walls supporting the road bed in this part of the way
have caved in, but they have been largely recovered, thanks
to a clever restoration, which aims at bringing this valuable
document of the past back to its ancient magnificence.
In the last bends before Resceto and in the tract leading to
Canal Pianone, it is possible to observe characteristic holes,
a testimony of the fact that the Vandelli was utilised as "lizza"
way in the middle of the 19th century.
Only few pieces of the ancient road-bed remain from Resceto
to Massa: it has been mostly covered with the successive tracing
of the asphalt road.