Just a few minutes outside Aprica but inside the district of Villa di Tirano, you’ll find the Pian di Gembro Nature Reserve, an ancient moorland with glacial origins. There’s no bad time of the year to visit this enchanting, untouched spot with its pristine nature, colour palate, and atmosphere. It’s something of a mosaic of rare plant species, including examples of carnivorous plants that hibernate as underground bulbs in winter like the sundew (Drosera), butterwort (Pinguicula), and the bladderwort (Utricularia), known for growing in puddles in bogs or shallow water.
This patch of wetland goes back to the last Ice Age (10,000 years ago, approximately). A glacial tongue from the Adda glacier – flowing towards the Oglio – gradually shaped the Pian di Gembro basin, which later became a lake. Over time, this filled with vegetation, which has since transformed into a layer of peat. The site was then used for extracting peat for fuel, and while this no longer happens, it has had a lasting impact on the vegetation in the nature reserve.
Alongside several recreational routes around the nature reserve that immerse you in all the best elements of nature, there’s also an educational trail with information boards on how the spot was formed and its characteristics. During summer, the educational space is open for curious young minds and they can get up-close with frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders amongst other ‘local residents’. Each winter, the landscape lays out a royal white carpet to the delight of snowshoers and cross-country skiers.