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By Jeff Matthews

Monte Soratte is the only notable mountain ridge in the Tiber Valley in the province of Rome, about 45 km (28 mi) north of the city of Rome, itself. The nearest settlement is the village of Sant'Oreste. Mt. Soratte is a narrow, isolated limestone ridge 5 km (3.4 mi) long with six peaks, the highest of which is 691 m (2,267 ft) above sea-level. The mountain has an elliptical shape and appears nowadays as a terrestrial island in the Tiber valley. In the past, however, it was a real sea island; during the Pliocene period, all the surrounding areas were invaded by the sea. As an evidence of that period, the area surrounding the mountain is characterized by sands and clays which originated from sea deposits.

The ridge is part of a 444-hectare (1,100-acre) Nature Reserve hosting a variety of flora and fauna and characterized by the so-called Meri, karst pits that can be up to 115 meters (377 ft) deep. The pits formed during the geological formation of the limestone massif, the ridge, itself, in the Triassic Age (about 200 million years ago). The Meri karst pits are of extreme interest to geologists and cavers. The first ones were discovered in the...

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