The "Ciciu del Villar" Natural Reserve
The "Ciciu del Villar" Natural Reserve was established in 1989 by Piedmont Region and is located in the Municipality of Villar San Costanzo, in the locality of Costa Pragamonti (Maira Valley), between 670 and 1350 m above sea level, and covers an area of 64 hectares. The small protected area was created to preserve a very particular erosion phenomenon: the "columns of erosion" (also called "earth pyramids", or "Ciciu 'd pera", "stone puppets"), which rise at the foot of the massif of Mount San Bernardo. These formations are natural morphological sculptures, with a typical giant mushroom shape, whose cap is made of a gneiss boulder (even of considerable size) and whose stem is made of compact earth and crushed stone. In this area the columns of erosion take the popular name of ciciu, a Piedmontese word that means 'puppet'.
The area of Ciciu del Villar represents, from a naturalistic point of view, an authentic rarity within the environmental heritage of Piedmont, both for the important geological peculiarities that make it unique, and for the richness of the fauna that can be observed all around.