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Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve and Lake Mezzola

In the enchanting panorama of Valchiavenna, to the north of Lake Como, we find the Pian di Spagna nature reserve and the turquoise waters of Lake Mezzola. Find out what to do and see!
Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve and Lake Mezzola

General informations

Pian di Spagna nature reserve and Lake Mezzola, a small paradise north of Lake Como

The Pian di Spagna nature reserve and Lake Mezzola are located in the northern part of Lake Como, a small paradise where nature shows all its splendor.

A plain of approximately 1600 hectares between Valtellina and Valchiavenna located approximately 200 meters above sea level, extending between the provinces of Sondrio and Como and including five municipalities: Sorico, Gera Lario, Dubino, Verceia and Novate Mezzola.

The reserve has great naturalistic value, because it is the landing point of migratory routes of various species and is characterized by an interesting biological variety.

What to do and see at the Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve

There is a lot to see in this place, the morphology of the Pian di Spagna Natural Reserve gives the opportunity to learn about many of the historical-environmental aspects that characterize it.

In fact, there are various itineraries and walks that can be done mainly in the perimeter area of ​​the protected area, some of them only accompanied by a Reserve Guide.

If you want to take a quiet walk with your family, this is a place for you, simple routes along dirt roads and mule tracks surrounded by nature.

The most suitable place to start the visit to Pian di Spagna is the place called "Ponte sull'Adda", where it is possible to leave the car along the road, taking care not to obstruct the passage.

Itineraries and walks on Lake Mezzola

Photos by Eleonora Villa , Veronica Carella and The Right Tuesday – Larius Way

If you love trekking in the Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve and around Lake Mezzola it is possible to organize excursions. Among the main practicable routes and paths there are:

  1. the one that starts from Dascio to reach the Temple of San Fedelino in Sorico, accessible to all and lasting approximately 3 hours.
  2. a circular route with arrival and departure from the town of Beletrone , which winds inside the Reserve.
  3. the one that from Ponte del Passo to Sasso di Dascio allows you to observe a large quantity of aquatic birds and which allows you to enjoy a panorama of Lake Mezzola.
  4. the one that from Trivio di Fuentes , near the Adda Bridge, allows you to reach Cascina Lodoletta , and which gives you the opportunity to see the fort of Fuentes.

But the true enchantment of Lake Mezzola is right on its shores, where you can stop and admire the placid turquoise waters that reflect the sun's rays in a thousand different colours.

If you want to take home some evocative and nuanced shots, this is the place for you.

The flora

The plant landscape of this reserve is quite complex, where we can find areas of reeds, wet meadows and agricultural surfaces that are still cultivated today.

In the area north of Pian di Spagna (Poncetta stables) there is the largest and most significant reed thicket, where the most dominant plant is the marsh reed, sometimes accompanied by the greater cattail.

In the best preserved areas, such as the southern shore of Lake Mezzola , behind the reeds, a suitable habitat for wild birds, there are sedges . Sedges are plants with narrow, hard leaves grouped in dense clumps.

The species encountered are:

  • common reed (Phragmites australis)
  • the greater cattail (Typha latifolia) in much smaller quantities together with the reed
  • water lilies (Nymphaea alba)
  • nannufers (Nuphar lutea)
  • the sedges, behind the reeds

The large area then continues with groves of alder, willow, oak, poplar and meadows rich in clover used for cattle grazing and beaten, especially in the autumn and spring periods, by strong winds which make the area even more spectacular.

The fauna

There are various environments that characterize the Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve , we can find lakes, rivers, streams, gullies, canals, ponds, puddles, beaches, urban areas, actively cultivated areas, sparsely cultivated areas, woods, groves, hedges and uncultivated.

In every environment it is possible to find and observe very different species of birds.

Lakes

On the lakes you can generally observe various species of diving ducks (tufted duck, pochard, tabaccata duck, four-eyed duck) or surface ducks (mallard, teal, garganey, wigeon), swans, rails (coot), some rare sea ducks (scoter Marino), Grebes, Loons, Cormorants, Mergansers, Gulls and Terns; on the rivers it is easy to observe surface and diving ducks, swans, coots, grebes, cormorants, gulls and terns.

Torrents

The Dipper, the Kingfisher and the Yellow Wagtail are common on the streams, while on the gullies we observe Surface Ducks, Rails (Coot, Moorhen, Voltoline, Water Rail, Crake) and some waders such as the Sandpiper, White Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Snipe, Herons, Bittern, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe); in the canals you can find Gray Heron, Snipe and Wagtails.

Beaches

The beaches are frequented by waders, Charadridae (Snipes, Plovers, Plovers) and Scolopacidae (Curlews, Godwits, Lapwings, Sandpipers), Gulls and Cormorants.

Reeds

The reed beds are the suitable habitat for rails, bitterns, some birds of prey, buntings, blue tits, starlings, pendulums, swallows, mice and surface ducks.

Rows and hedges

Rows and hedges offer food to Shrikes, Thrushes, Chaffinches, Crows, Tits, Woodpeckers and Blackcaps.

Torrents

The Dipper, the Kingfisher and the Yellow Wagtail are common on the streams, while on the gullies we observe Surface Ducks, Rails (Coot, Moorhen, Voltoline, Water Rail, Crake) and some waders such as the Sandpiper, White Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Snipe, Herons, Bittern, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe); in the canals you can find Gray Heron, Snipe and Wagtails.

The objective of the protected area of ​​the nature reserve

Pian di Spagna is one of the most important areas in Italy and Europe for the wintering of hundreds of ducks observable on Lake Mezzola , Mera and on the northern front of Lake Como .

The main role of the protected area is to give thousands of birds the opportunity to rest and feed during both spring and autumn migration.

It frequently happens that, in the months of March and April, in the Alps, adverse weather conditions arise with winds, fog, rain or snowfall and this forces migrants to stop on the plains below, waiting for good weather.

Precisely in these periods, one can notice numerous birds of various species which, already tired after having in some cases overcome the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea , are waiting to be able to cross the Alps to finally reach their nesting areas.

Conversely, in autumn, after having crossed the Alps, many tired and hungry birds descend to Pian di Spagna to recover and recover their spent energy.

Not all birds migrate : the Woodpeckers and the Tits, for example, make short journeys, the Sordone descends from the mountain areas to the lower altitudes of the valley, the Dipper descends along the watercourse with the progressive advance of the frost.

Some birds perform medium-range migrations, such as thrushes and finches, which, despite reaching the African continent, never descend below the Sahara, while others perform very long migrations of 8000-9000 km, for example storks, swallows, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs.

The mountains surrounding the Reserve are home to some birds of prey, such as: Black Kite, Eagle Owl, Tawny Owl, Goshawk and Buzzard.

Lake Mezzola - Valchiavenna

We tried to tell you about this magical place, now you just have to go and visit it.

What do you find near this place