The Morainic Amphitheater of Ivrea is the winegrowing heart of the Canavese area. Lands of glacial origin are ideal for winegrowing. The microclimate is mild, protected by the hills and balanced by the presence of many lakes. Furthermore, the area benefits from the constant breeze blowing from the nearby Valle d’Aosta Alps.
The Morainic Amphitheater of Ivrea (usually abbreviated in Italian as AMI) is a morainic hill of glacial origin located in the Canavese area. From the administrative point of view, it extends from the province of Turin to the provinces of Biella and Vercelli. The AMI dates back to the Quaternary period and was formed by the deposits transported towards the Po Valley during the glaciations in the Dora Baltea basin. With a surface of over 500 km², it is one of the world’s best-preserved geomorphological units of this kind. It is Italy’s second biggest geological formation after the one surrounding the Garda Lake. The name “amphitheater”, usually given to this kind of geomorphological complex, refers to its characteristic semicircular shape, which is evident when shown on a map.
The glacial pulses, which have produced impressive morainic deposits over time, are very evident in the area involved. Among them is the left lateral moraine of the ancient glacier, known as Serra of Ivrea: it is Europe’s largest formation of that kind. The Serra extends from the southern slopes of Mount Mombarone (2371 m. above sea level ) to the south-east for about 20 kilometers and then frays into a fringe in the hills surrounding the Viverone Lake. It consists of a series of sub-parallel crests, with a sharp difference of level of 600 m between the highest relief and the AMI’s flat internal plain in the Andrate area. Such difference of level decreases gradually down to about 250 m. near Zimone.
The rocky substratum on which the Morainic Amphitheater of Ivrea is situated can be distinguished into three geologic units, separated by the Insubric line. Such tectonics discontinuity is divided into two faults running parallel to each other in the Biella and Canavese area: the Internal Canavese Line, to the south, and the External Canavese Line, to the north. In the AMI area, to the north of the External Canavese Line, is the Sesia Lanzo Zone, consisting mostly of mica schists and rocks, which underwent deep metamorphism. The Zone comprises the Mombarone, to the hydrographic left side, and Mount Gregorio on the Dora’s opposite side. In between the two Canavese Lines is the Canavese area, an area geologically characterized by lithologic heterogeneity and emerging near the Montalto Dora and the five lakes. Instead, to the south of the Internal Canavese Line, the rocky substratum belongs to the Ivrea Verbano Zone. Among the types of rocks that form this geologic unit in the AMI area, basic granulite is rarely found, as these rocks, according to geologic studies, originated from the deepest portions of the continental crust, near the sub-boundary of the earth’s mantle. Part of the city of Ivrea was built upon this rocky substratum, which clearly emerges near the sanctuary of Mount Stella.