The word “Brent”, or “Brentana” comes from the Valbelluna dialect and it refers to a stream that flows at the bottom of a deep, narrow valley.
Hence where the word “Brentana” comes from, which describes the moment when the stream, following many days of heavy, persistent rain, swells and picks up speed. “Art”, the local dialect word for Ardo, comes from “Artus'' meaning rocky gorge.
The Ardo stream flows into the River Piave. This shouldn’t be confused with the other Ardo, which originates from Monte Schiara in the province of Belluno and also flows into the Piave.
The Brent de l’Art gorges are natural formations, very similar to canyons, created by thousands of years of water erosion, bringing rocks which were originally formed millions of years ago back into plain sight. The erosion is caused by the debris which the water transports along these narrow valleys. Stones and vegetation, swamped by the high water levels, create whirlpools once they reach the canyon, hitting the rock walls and eroding them before finally moving downstream.
The flow of water along narrow valleys such as the Brent gorges becomes very loud and is what makes them so noisy; a phenomenon that doesn’t occur in normal, wider valleys.
It is presumed that this natural excavation has been going on for between 10.000 and 15.000 years, coinciding with the thaw that followed the last Würmian ice age which ended around 9.000 - 10.000 BC, and that still continues, albeit to a much lesser extent, even today. In the narrower bights and on river bends, it’s not unusual to find very rough stones that are almost spherical in shape. These stones swirl around and hit the rocky walls, hence how they get their shape, just as a talented sculptor would do with a rock.
The characteristic red colour of the Brent gorges is due to the Cretaceous “Scaglia Rossa”, a red limestone formed during the Late Cretaceous, around 90 - 65 million years ago. It’s composed of carbonate mud deposits mixed with fossilised shells of planktonic forams (marine invertebrates) thus making it a material that’s very prone to erosion, despite its good vertical stability. This rock formation forms the sides of the Brent de l’Art gorges, revealing its strata of calcareous marl which is generally brick red colour due to the presence of iron oxides, and whitish layers resulting from a secondary discolouration, with layers of red and grey - greenish clays in between.
These geological peculiarities underline the majesty and beauty of the Brent de l’Art gorges, a place which enables you to travel back in time, to a million years ago.