Walking around, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in an open-air museum. This is a dream for every keen geologist – experiencing millennia of weathering first-hand. Water and wind, capable of shaping rock. This is Zone, near Brescia, along the northeastern shore of Lago d’Iseo.
The area is home to the Piramidi di Zone nature reserve, a protected area characterised by its “fairy chimneys”, which are imposing columns of volcanic and tuff rock that rise tens of metres above the surrounding vegetation. This spectacular scenery is a tangible and continuous testimony to the geological evolution of the area. At times, it is reminiscent (on a smaller scale) of the much more famous Turkish region of Cappadocia. You can observe the Pyramids from the comfort of a circular trail that runs around the entire nature reserve.
From geology to palaeontology is a short step – in this case less than a couple of kilometres. On a nearby rock flanking the route of the ancient Via Valeriana, traced back to Roman times, you can admire numerous fossilised footprints of ancient archosaurs dating back over 200 million years, when the entire area was an immense lagoon.