Renon, a well-known tourist resort above Bolzano, is also home to some of the most unusual natural formations: the earth pyramids. Around 25,000 years old, the pyramids on the Bolzano plateau are considered to be among the most beautiful and tallest in Europe.
Where to find the earth pyramids of Renon
These extraordinary phenomena can be found all over the Ritten Plateau: in the Rio Fosco valley on the road to Longomoso and Monte di Mezzo, in the Rio Rivellone valley near Soprabolzano and in the Rio Gasterer valley in Auna di Sotto. Thanks to specially created itineraries, tourists have the opportunity to photograph and admire them throughout the year.
What are the earth pyramids?
The so-called "pinnacles" are formed by cones of moraine material on each of which rests a large boulder, creating unique earth structures made of moraine clay of fluvial-glacial origin, the residue of the main glacier of the Valle Isarco and of some secondary local glaciers. These geological formations have the peculiarity of being cohesive and compact in dry conditions, but because they are clayey, they lose stability when exposed to rain and crumble, forming slopes of 10 to 15 metres. The boulder on top of the pyramids adheres to the clay material creating a natural barrier against rain or other weathering. When precipitation occurs, an unusual event occurs: the material not protected by the boulders is eroded and transported downstream, causing the majestic earth pyramids to literally emerge from the bottom.
It is not easy to estimate a precise time within which an earth pyramid can form, as there are too many factors to calculate and therefore it is not possible to define the age of the pyramid. Certainly the most beautiful and majestic ones were formed over thousands of years.
The end of a pyramid is when the boulder or 'hat' falls from the top of the column.
How to get to the Earth Pyramids: routes
There are several routes that allow you to admire these wonders in all their splendour:
Corno del Renon Panoramic Trail: an easy one-hour panoramic hike starting from Cima Lago Nero.
Earth Pyramids Trail in Soprabolzano: two-hour hike starting from Soprabolzano.
Towards the earth pyramids of Monte di Mezzo: flat hike, also suitable for families with children, of about 45 minutes starting from Collalbo.