Belmonte hill consists of a unique granitic outcrop in the local area, from the top of which you can enjoy the view over the plain from Serra d'Ivrea to the hills of Turin. Pink granite outcrops alternate with sandy gullies and forests dominated on the northern slope by deciduous chestnut trees, and on the southern slope mainly by oaks, chestnut trees, and birches. The area, including the Sanctuary known since 1197, is also characterized by interesting archaeological features. As a matter of fact, some finds dating back to the Bronze Age and others dating back to the Lombard period have been discovered in the area. There are also interesting evidences of the Roman period and the early Middle Ages.
The vegetation at the top of the mountain has been influenced by the presence of ornamental plants. There are also rather rare species which are characteristic of cool places, among them:
The area is characterized by a wide plain scattered with ponds and small lakes with several depressions and drainage backwaters reminding of Baraggia in the area of Vercelli.
The wetlands and moorlands (relicts of piedmont moorlands) are areas of particular naturalistic interest and are characterized by open spaces dominated by Gramineae and Common Heather.
Flora and Fauna
The area of the Reserve is characterized by wide open spaces where the Common Heather (Calluna Vulgaris) grows together with other herbs such as the Graminea Purple Moor Grass (Molinia Coerulea) alternating with groups of pioneer trees, in particular the Birch (Betulla Pendula) and the Poplar (Populis Tremula). Several herbaceous plants witness the poorness of the soils, for instance Festuca Tenuifolia. The beautiful Genziana pneumonanthe is very common, and blooms in late summer.
The wildlife of the Vauda includes very common species, which have become rare to find in the plain. One of the most interesting features of the Reserve is the presence of many and varied birds. About two hundred species of nesting and wintering birds have been recorded: an extraordinary number, probably unique for the plain. Here we can find Skylarks, Quails, Bee eaters, Red-backed Shrikes, Corn Buntings, and Ortolan Buntings, as well as some species of birds of prey like Buzzards, Hawks, Black Kites, Eurasian Eagle-owls, and Little Owls. The results of a scientific study have revealed the presence of over 60 species belonging to 7 different families of Lepidoptera rhopalocera including the endangered Maculinea alcon and Licaena dispar.
Monti Pelati and Torre Cives Special Nature Reserve is a narrow strip
of about 3 square kilometers situated in the Municipalities of
Baldissero Canavese, Vidracco, and Castellamonte.
Pelati Mountains are modest reliefs almost without vegetation, set at the westernmost end of the green hills of the morainic amphitheater in Ivrea. Their main feature, from which most of the other features derive, is the nature of the subsoil, mainly consisting of peridotite. The latter is a compact rock characterized by a dark green color on the fresh fracture, often covered by a reddish surface coat of iron oxide. Peridotites are intrusive igneous rocks, deriving from solidification processes. This kind of rock, very hard and with mainly basic features, forms soils which do not favor the growth of vegetation.
Moreover, this site has been subject to transformation process by water solutions.
Part of the original minerals transformed into magnesite and opal which, with several veins, cross the rocks in all directions. This transformation process, together with a rather high average rainfall, made Pelati Mountains an easy victim of erosion. This is the reason of the aspect and name of these mountains ("pelati" is the Italian word for "bald").
The vegetation of Pelati Mountains is characterized by species like Birch, Downy Oak, Goat Willow, and Scots Pine.
The Wildlife of Pelati Mountains
The presence of different environments enables the presence of animal species usually living in different habitats.
At about 500 meters above-sea level (the highest altitude of Pelati Mountains is 581 meters) we can find the Lesser Whitethroat, a migrating warbler usually nesting only beyond the 1,000 meters of altitude, and the Crested Tit, usually living in the conifer mountain forests. Not far, in this environment where small conifers, high grass, and bare soil alternate, there are two unique species in the Canavese area: the Tawny Pipit, a bird similar to the common wagtail, nesting in the area, and the Sardinina Warbler. Both are characteristic Mediterranean species and are therefore widespread in southern Italy or along the coasts.
There are also several much more common species that are worth a mention: the Woodlark, very similar to the skylark, several Fringillidae like the Linnet, the Siskin, the Greenfinch, the Goldfinch, and the characteristic buntings of the open areas like the Yellowhammer and the Cirl Bunting, whose characteristic singing can be heard almost in any period of the year.
During the migration period, it is also possible to sight the Rock Thrush and the Wheatear stopping here before reaching the surrounding mountains.
The recent opening of the dumping ground of Vespia attracted two new opportunistic species: the Raven and the Black Kite, which have chosen Pelati Mountains as their customary dormitory.
The most interesting inhabitants are some rare insects, like Phytoecia Vulneris, Pedasia Luteella, and Leptothorax Flavicornis.