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the wild Apuan lands

June 2023- Number 23
the wild Apuan lands

In appearance desolate, the Apuans instead bustle with life. Invisible life, if your eyes can’t see or you haven’t the nerve to go looking in unexpected, even hostile places. Lorenzo Shoubridge, author of the extraordinary photos on these pages, most certainly has both eyes and a wonderful sense of adventure

Words by Niccola De Prà - Photography Lorenzo Shoubridge

There is an entire other world around us. A world of unconfined wild animals and of tiny, fantastical creatures. Of places with fairy-tale names or names as dark as night. Of rime, of snow, of wind that splits the skin, of scoured skies, of glaring sunlight. And solitude, promise, menace. A world that we, Versilia’s plains dwellers – to say nothing of the tourists – simply cannot imagine. And yet, it’s right there, on those Apuan mountains that guard Forte dei Marmi and the coast with their reassuring solidity.

Much more than a backdrop, however stunning; harsh and in appearance desolate, the Apuans instead bustle with life. In the skies, on the ground, in every crevice and cleft, every body of water. Invisible life, if you don’t have eyes that can see. Or the patience to wait. Or the nerve to go looking.

Eyes, patience, nerve. Lorenzo Shoubridge, author of the extraordinary photos on these pages, certainly has all three in abundance. The photos are a very limited selection of the images captured by this nature photographer over six years in the mountains of Versilia, Apuania, and Garfagnana, published in 2018 in the now unfindable Apuane terre selvagge. Shoubridge is preparing a second book devoted to the Alps and the Mont Avic park, with even more spectacular photos – were that possible! An exclusive crowdfunding campaign will let you preorder – but only in September and October 2023 (all the details at or at the website).

In his photos, native Versilian Shoubridge accompanies us through the mists and the colors of the Fatonero woods to the mountain’s snow-locked crests and into its most recondite depressions for a glimpse into the secret lives of its creatures as season turns to season. He takes us to a lake where the white-throated dipper, the river crab, and the barred grass snake hunt their prey. He directs our eyes to the sky to track the majestic flight of the eagles; in the dark of night, downward to half-see the movements of the foxes, the wolves, and the small mammals that reign here. In images that reveal another side of places we thought we knew, that invite reflection on the beauty of nature, on the fragility of mountains we have long admired and yet never really seen.

“Up on those mountains I love, I learned to coexist with my fears and to push my limits – and uncover new ones,” Shoubridge tells us. “Moments of complete solitude alternated with moments that will remain indelible in my heart, like my encounter with a pack of Apennine wolves, or my first glaze-frosted winter dawn, or the hoarse, scratchy cry of the golden eagle, the queen of the high skies.”

Lorenzo Shoubridge’s wild Apuans have won star billing in prestigious international nature photography circles. Two of the book’s images earned honorable mentions at as many editions of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition promoted by Natural History Museum, London, and one of two wolves under the Apennine peaks – The Herd – took top prize in all categories at the 2020 Montphoto Photo Contest.