Destinations, Travel Tips

The Ritten earth pyramids

Pyramids in Italy? You might say that I am misinformed. Even though the Italic Peninsula has definitely had its share of  great civilizations throughout history, none of them created such constructions. However, nature decided to fix this, and so it gave birth to the Ritten pyramids. However, the name of “pyramids” is somewhat misleading. In fact, what you can see here is a group of stalagmite-shaped columns, many of them having a rock placed on top of them in what might seem a precarious balance. The landscape is just splendid as the site is located in the South Tyrol, next to the picturesque village of Ritten, so there are a lot of reasons to visit this place. But what is its story and what is it exactly?

The columns were many times associated to the image of a group of young ladies wearing hats. But what the researchers wanted to discover is who or what exactly lead to the apparition of these curious miracles of nature. Their story has begun during  the Ice Age. 10000 years ago, when the glaciers retreated, numerous materials created by the erosion remained there in a thick layer. Then it was water’s turn to intervene: especially the water from precipitations eroded the layer of clay, thus creating the columns. Those having a rock on top of them survived the “attack”, as the rock acted as an umbrella.

The protection role of the stones is still to be seen today: if a pyramid loses its stone, then it will be eroded in no time. It is a process of continuous evolution: the climate destroys some pillars whilst others are created by the rain. This will continue until no more clay will be left for the apparition of some new pyramids. So there is a very likely chance that future generations will not have the opportunity to see them in reality, but only in photographs. But, until then, the pyramids still attract a large number of tourists and specialists from all around the world.

Earth pyramids are not a very common view, but they can be found in several places in the world, thus receiving different names; in Italy they are called “the earth mushrooms” or “the dwarfs” while in the French Alps they are called “les demoiselles coiffées”. The tallest such column reaches 40 meters in height so, even if they were not made to hold for a very long time, the columns are still impressive in their own way.

So, if you get to Italy, you should definitely try to see this location. Since 1907, when the railway was completed, the area has become accessible to practically everyone. Since 1971 travelers can also benefit from  a paved road, especially designed for this purpose. Among the famous visitors of the pyramids you can count Sigmund Freud and Franz Kafka. If you are not quite familiar with the Italian language, you should know that most of the 7000 people living in the area are of German descent. In fact, Ritten is the German name of the village, its Italian name being Renon. So, now you know what to look for on the map; the next step is no to let this voyage take place just in your imagination!

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