Monviso and the Cottian Alps as symbols of the alpine chain

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The Monviso Massif may well be considered as one of the most outstanding symbols of the Alps in general, and of the Cottian Alps in particular.

Its peculiar shape above the Piedmont basin already impressed the ancient Romans more than 20 centuries ago. Moreover, the Monviso bottom at Pian del Re gives birth to the Po river, the historically most important source of life and welfare in northern Italy.

From the geologic point of view, the Monviso Massif  is a very well preserved, composite ophiolite nappe representing the remains of a former ocean, disappeared during the powerful orogenic processes, due to the Africa-Europe collision, which eventually led to the building of the Alps.

The Monviso Massif comprises a number of different geosites of great interest: :

  • Some of the best preserved ophiolites in the Alps.
  • The first primary source of jade in the Alps.
  • World-famous minerals such as coesite and giant pyrope, as well as type localities for new minerals.
  • The area where Hannibal is thought to have regrouped his army while crossing the Alps.
  • The biodiversity of lichens, microfungi and cyanobacteria colonizing the ophiolites.

Image gallery (click to enlarge)

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