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Erratic Boulders Trail

Walking among the stone giants

Italia, Regione Lombardia, provincia di Como, Blevio

Italia, Regione Lombardia, provincia di Como, Torno

Positioning

Antica Via Regia

COORDINATES
(CH 1903) E   728616 N   76096 H   660.0
(WGS 84) Long.   9.094 Lat.   45.824
GENERAL EVALUATION
DIFFICULTY E-T2/T3
SCIENTIFIC INTEREST PRIMARY:
Glacial morphology

SECONDARY:
Mineralogy / petrology
OTHER INTERESTS Landscape, Hiking
Ethnographical
GEOSITE   GEOMORPHOLOGICAL - glaciers

DESCRIPTION

This route will take you from Brunate to Torno in about three hours along the old Via Regia, an ancient communication road which proceeds along the hillside, connecting the villages of the eastern shore of Lake Como. Along the way there are some of the most impressive and spectacular erratic boulders of the lake: The Nairola Stone, The Lupo Boulder and The Pendula Stone. The Nairola Stone resembles a large flat table measuring 7.4 metres long by 4 metres wide and approximately 4.5 metres in height, which protrudes from the slope of the mountain and consists of a block of ghiandone granodiorite, originating from Val Masino (Valtellina). The panorama from the top of the boulder is well worth the effort of the short, steep climb needed reach it. The Pendula Stone is also a mass of ghiandone resting on a narrow base of limestone, probably thinned down by man. The letters PP are engraved upon it, probably meaning “Pietra Pendula”.

INSIGHT

Along the way you can see several boulders, left by the Abduano Glacier, which came down from the North during the Quaternary Period. These are rocks of ghiandone granodiorite, serpentine and mica schists from Valtellina which were carried by the glacier in its slow descent to the south, and were finally abandoned along the way as the glacier withdrew and melted. Geologists have reconstructed the maximum height reached by the glacier which occupied the valley, as well as accurately mapping all the erratic boulders present on the valley slopes. The glacier reached the considerable altitude of 750 metres above sea level at Brunate. The local bedrock is essentially constituted of hemipelagic marly limestone (Moltrasio Limestone) of the Sinemurian Age (196 to 189 million years ago). It looks like a dark limestone, in flat, parallel layers 20 to 30 centimetres in thickness, with frequent nodules of black flint. It is usually poor in fossils, but at a house in “Mountains of Cazzanore” there is the recognizable imprint of a rare ammonite in one of the stones of a wall.

CURIOSITIES

A legend of Christian origin states that the protruding position of the Nairola Stone is due to a miraculous intervention by the Virgin who held it back with her cloak during its descent. A chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built a hundred metres below the boulder. Just downstream of Montepiatto, near Pezöö, a legend originated regarding Saint Charles Borromeo, who made water gush from a wall of limestone at the touch of his hand, “softening the rock as if it were butter”. Here you may see a wall where the steadily dripping water has eroded the stone, carving out a basin.
scala temporale periodi geologici

HOW TO REACH THE SITE

A funicular climbs from Como to Brunate, providing a spectacular panorama. At the station, go down the stairs and exit through the turnstile, continuing down to the paved road. Continue to the right towards San Maurizio. After 50 metres, at the CAMPARI fountain, take Via Nidrino on the left, going slightly downhill. Continue down until the sports field and, passing it on the right, take the path entering the woods towards the north.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR THE VISIT

Go along the path, and after about 50 minutes there is a turning on the right which leads to the Nairola Stone in about 20 minutes.

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Programma di cooperazione transfrontaliera Italia - Svizzera 2007 - 2013 Progetto cofinanziato dal Fondo Europeo Sviluppo Regionale (FESR)
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