Sasso Malascarpa nature reserve

The Sasso Malascarpa nature reserve is a protected natural area located between the municipalities of Canzo and Valmadrera. For about twenty years the reserve has been classified as a site of community importance.

Riserva naturale Sasso Malascarpa

The rock of Sasso Malascarpa, which gives its name to the protected area, is an imposing rocky relief located in one of the most interesting geological, geomorphological and paleontological areas of Lombardy. It is geologically part of the Southern Limestone Alps, which, before the formation of the Alps, corresponded to the ancient edge of the African plate. About 100 million years ago the Alpine region was occupied by an ocean. The collision between the European and African plates, in addition to the formation of the Alpine mountain range, has produced a series of deformations that have lifted the marine sediments. It is for this reason that today we can easily observe in the Reserve fossil remains such as the shells with two valves of the Conchodon mollusc, of corals and madrepores. The fossil remains of the shells have a particular heart shape and have become the symbol of the Reserve.

Another interesting aspect of the Reserve is karst, of which the characteristic furrowed fields, deep and narrow vertical furrows are manifestation. They were created by the erosive action of rain on limestone rocks.
Witnesses of the ancient glacial action are the large erratic boulders. They can be found in the lower areas of the Reserve, along the course of the Ravella stream, coming from the Valtellina. The Ravella Valley, a valley that takes its name from the stream that rises just below the Canzo horns, is home to the Regional Forest Park of the Horns of Canzo and the Sasso Malascarpa Nature Reserve. There is also a geological trail that goes from the Gajum sources up to the sanctuary of San Miro. Along the way there are several erratic boulders brought here by the glacier during the last glaciation.

The peaks

The most important peaks are the horns of Canzo. These are three rocky peaks that take their name from the municipality of Canzo. Given the particular conformation of the Horns, which allows them to rise with steep vertical jumps. The view of the valley is reminiscent of the Dolomites. Some shelters allow an excellent support point for every excursion. Its geographical location means that there are different habitats. We move from the cliff environment to the prairies and the woods. For lovers of these sciences is an area really rich in ideas. It is a true outdoor museum, with an exhaustive explanation thanks to numerous educational panels. Several thematic paths intertwine starting from Canzo and Valmadrera.


In addition to many species of molluscs and insects, the Reserve is home to several species of mammals, such as hares, hedgehogs, moles, squirrels, foxes and roe deer. The presence of wild boar and mouflon is also reported. The different habitats also host the presence of numerous species of birds. The prairies are inhabited by the rock partridge, from the lark. Among the rocks nest sparrows, swifts, woodpeckers and birds of prey. In the woods you can see and hear the singing of finches, blackcaps, robins, blackbirds and woodpeckers. The whole area is distinguished by the superb panorama over Lake Como, the Grigne, the Lariano Triangle, the Brianza and its lakes.

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