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Dreamy Mendrisiotto: Ticino’s best-kept secret
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Dreamy Mendrisiotto: Ticino’s best-kept secret

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When you think of Ticino, you instantly feel the Italian vibe and hear the palm trees rustling. Ticino is where the Swiss go to enjoy a bit of Italianità and a much warmer climate. But there's another side of Ticino you might be less familiar with. Behind the breath-taking sights and the Mediterranean feel, lies a solid history dating back 200 million years ago. If you're keen to find out what a Ticinosuchus is and where you can find the oldest Christian church in Switzerland, follow us on an exciting journey to Mendrisiotto and Basso Ceresio.

Tell me more about Mendrisiotto

Ticino fascinates the Swiss and foreigners alike, it's Italian but not quite, it's Swiss, but just as much as it needs to be. It's the palm trees, it's the stunning Lake Lugano, it's the great coffee and amazing restaurants and it's most definitely the Gelato - but Ticino is actually much more than that and that could not be truer for Mendrisiotto. 

What makes Mendrisiotto so special

The region of Mendrisiotto, in the south of Ticino is famous Swiss-wide for two things in particular: its balanced Merlot and the Holy Week Processions, a 400-year-old tradition which has been listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage - the official name is actually much longer, you'll find it here.

But we've selected a few highlights that go more beyond the surface - quite literally at that - and show you a side of Ticino you might not know.

Monte San Giorgio - UNESCO World Heritage site

Monte San Giorgio, so special that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers stunning views along several well laid-out hiking trails. Many small, local villages along the routes offer great starting points for delightful outings. 

Our tips: Look out over the lagoon the mountain emerged from, teeming with rare fossils - this is where you'll finally learn what a Ticinosuchus is. Climb to the top with a quaint funicular and take in panoramas of rare beauty. Enjoy excursions in the cool of chestnut tree forests, visit the marble caves and relax on trails amidst vineyards.

Find out more about Monte San Giorgio

Tremona-Castello Archaeological Park

The Tremona medieval settlement dates roughly from the 14th century, but it has been inhabited for 6,000 years. Thanks to scrupulous restoration and quite amazing VR technology, you can see and hear the villagers, their daily routine and admire this long gone village, not only as ruins, but teeming with life. Walking through its streets, it is almost as if you can hear the noise of the blacksmith’s workshop. 

Travel back to the Middle Ages at Tremona-Castello

La dolce vita on Lago Ceresio

Photo © Christof Sonderegger/ Switzerland Tourism

Lake Ceresio is the local name for the portion of Lake Lugano in the region of Mendrisio, the southern-most side of the lake. The main highlights of the coast, other than the lake itself, which is spectacular and a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, are the village of Bissone, place of birth of influential Baroque architect Francesco Borromini and the baptistery of Riva San Vitale, the oldest Christian building in Switzerland.

We won't blame you if you stop for a swim in the lake or for a Gelato afterwards. You'll find it's difficult to resist the desire to just stop and enjoy yourself under the Ticino sun. 

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Trenino Monte Generoso - the views are spectacular!

Trenino or 'the little train' in Italian is the oldest steam train service, still operating in Switzerland after 130 years. We told you there's history at every step here, in Mendrisiotto. All aboard and enjoy this amazing ride on Monte Generoso, the 'generous mountain' another beautiful peak in the region. 

Show me the views on the Trenino

Explore Bear’s Cave like a true archaeologist
 

Imagine the times when Monte Generoso was inhabited by cave bears. This was roughly between fifty and thirty thousand years ago. Grotta dell’Orso, the Bear's Cave, is located on Monte Generoso on the Italian side and it is a treasure trove for history buffs. Admire the reconstruction of a cave bear and many other captivating finds. 

Take me to the Bear Cave

Discover the world’s first natural fridge in Nevère

Lace up your hiking boots and enjoy a pleasant trip that will reveal the precursor to the modern fridge: because water was in short supply, shepherds invented the Nevère which made it possible to store milk before it was turned into butter. These old ice houses are an important regional cultural heritage (not to mention the region is quite beautiful). 

Discover Nevère

A natural and a man-made wonder 

Photo © Jacques Perler/ Mendrisiotto Tourism

The absolutely stunning Parco delle Gole della Breggia hides a man-made wonder, a disused cement factory reconverted as a captivating educational trail: the trail starts in the underground quarries and crosses the enormous industrial facilities where you can discover the process of manufacture and transformation of the rock. 

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The best way to plan your trip to Mendrisiotto

Looking for more tips and experiences in the beautiful region of Mendrisiotto? On this website you'll find more travel tips, restaurant tips from locals, as well as a comprehensive list of accommodations, from hotels to holiday flats, from farms to camping sites, located by the lake or in the mountains - just take your pick and see you there!

Plan your trip to Mendrisiotto

 

Main article photo of the stunning Monte San Giorgio © Jacques Perler/ Mendrisiotto Tourism