Between Sesia and Val Grande: rocks and stones, natural and artificial waters

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In the northern sector of the Piemonte region, there is a geologically relevant area, whose importance has been internationally recognized in september 2013, through the establishment of the Sesia Valgrande Geopark, receiving the label UNESCO Global Geopark on november 2015.

The area includes part of the glaciated summits of the Alps (e.g. Monte Rosa), large valleys such as Sesia and Ossola, prealpine mountains (Valsessera and Prealpi Biellesi) and piedmont hills (e.g Alte Colline Novaresi). The geopark borders the Maggiore Lake and the fluvial terraces of the high plains, modelled during the Quaternary as responses of fluvioglacial and fluvial processes.

From the geological point of view the area is crossed by the Insubric Line, a major discontinuity of the Alpine chain, in term of its tectonic and paleogeographic history. Markers of the Alpine rock metamorphism are preserved North- and Westward of this discontinuity. South- and Eastward of the Insubric Line, rocks preserve traces of older geological events: almost an intact section of the Earth crust before the transformations due to the building processes of the Alps.

This outstanding diversity of geological and geomorphological features, together with a wide altitude range, determines many different ecological conditions and, consequently biodiversity, deeply influencing also the human culture.

What you will see:

    • A unique deep Earth crust section, which includes the magmatic system of the 300 million years old Sesia supervolcano.
    • The karstic area of Mount Fenera, the unique evidence of Neanderthal man in the Piemonte Region.
    • Glaciers in action on the Monte Rosa massif.
    • The visible signs of the Walser cultural heritage, deeply connected to local geological and ecological features of the mountain environment.
    • The Val Grande National Park, internationally recognised as the largest wilderness areas in Italy.
    • One of the best “terroir” of the Nebbiolo vineyards, whose geodiversity is reflected in a wide range of fine wines.
    • Natural and artificial products of water: fluvial terraces (the “Baraggia” ecosystem) and the largest rice fields in Europe.
    • The historic quarry of the Candoglia marble, used to build the cathedral of Milano.
    • The “Sacri Monti” of Ghiffa, Domodossola and Varallo Sesia, UNESCO World Heritage sites rich of artistic religious features and historical ornamental stones.
    • The “Artificial Marble” of Rima, a unique artistic technique that made famous its masters in whole Europe.

Image gallery (click to enlarge)

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