The granite

Granite is an intrusive magmatic rock formed over 280 million years ago: the name of the stone comes from the Latin “granum”, that is, made in “grains”. Granite is, in fact, composed of regular crystals formed as magma was slowly cooling down.

In the province of Verbano Cusio Ossola, different types of granite outcrop in the area around Lake Maggiore, Mergozzo and Orta and are thus known as “Lake Granites”: the most famous of these is pink granite from Baveno, which is part of the summit of the mountain massif called Mottarone.

In pink granite, 4 minerals can be found which give the fine grain that is so highly appreciated for building and ornamentation.

 - orthoclase, white or pink in colour is the mineral which gives the typical colour to Baveno


 - plagioclase which is generally transparent or translucent;

 - quartz, a vitreous and shiny mineral;

 - biotite, one of the mica group of minerals which is a greeny-black colour.

Much of the mountain of Mottarone, as well as the nearby mountain of Montorfano, is also made up of another kind of granite, white granite. A vein of white granite crops out in the Cusio area with the now disused quarries at Alzo, Pella and Madonna del Sasso.

To the West side of the mass of Montorfano, there is also an outcrop of greenish granite called “green granite of Mergozzo”, where the colour comes from a high level of chlorite.


Other types of Stone

The Ossola area is also well-known for other types of ornamental and building stone.

Various marbles, known since ancient times and of particular prestige for ornamental purposes, are the pink Candoglia marble (from Mergozzo); the grey Boden marble (from Ornavasso), Sambughetto marble (from ValleyStrona) and Palissander from Crevoladossola.

The most common type of building stone is serizza o ‘sarizza’, a commercial term used to indicate metamorphic rocks that are dark grey in colour and uniformally granular. The serizza stone is divided into areas of origin according to the location of the quarries.

(Antigorio, Formazza, Sempione, Monterosa).

 Beola stone is hard, durable and easily to cut into flat flagstones that are traditionally used for roofing. Grey Beola is the most common type and is quarried in several parts of the Ossola, including Beura from which its name would seem to derive.

Other metamorphic rock types are the so-called green stones which outcrop in the Ossola in places like Valley Antrona, Valley Bognanco and Valley Vigezzo. They are locally known as “ollare”, from the use man has made of this soapstone since ancient times in creating ‘olle’ or heat-resistant cooking vessels.

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