An Extraordinary Journey to Morbio Inferiore in Ticino

Some sensational views and postcard landscapes that can only evoke mythical and distant lands of the deserts and canyons of Arizona or the white beaches of Hawaii. And instead they are in an area that we might not expect, like the Canton of Ticino. Discover how it can be nice to go abroad, without having to travel for many hours, visiting the Canton of Ticino and the beauties preserved throughout Switzerland.

To reach this area of southern Switzerland you can do it in different ways, but surely the most convenient is by train. Chiasso, the first Swiss municipality welcomes you first and then gives you the opportunity to move to other, even more interesting destinations.

A few kilometers beyond the border, beyond Chiasso, one can indeed find huge surprises that will turn our traditional image of Switzerland as a land exclusively of the Alps, mountain walks and great meals. We are in the Mendrisiotto, the extreme south of Switzerland, a few km from Lake Lugano and from the customs of Chiasso (towards Como) and Stabio (towards Varese).

The Mendrisiotto, the region around Mendrisio, is a land with a strong wine tradition, rich in wineries and prestigious production companies. The itinerary to discover the vineyards of the area starts from the historic center of Mendrisio along the roads on which suggestive courtyards, churches and ancient buildings open up.

In Mendrisio there are some important wineries that allow visits and tastings by appointment. Another natural place to visit is the Monte Generoso. The surrounding wineries are built at the foot of Mount Generoso. Some are still in operation and others have been turned into small grottos. To do this you will have to arrive by train up to Capolago and then, from there, take the orange-blue rack train to reach the top.

Not many people know, for example, that in the Mendrisio district there is a miniature Grand Canyon able to breathe the breathtaking atmosphere of the great West of the United States. It is located near Morbio Inferiore and is called Parco delle Gole della Breggia, a naturalistic area of ​​inestimable value and enormous charm.

From Mendrisio continue in the direction of Castel San Pietro which houses interesting wineries. The itinerary continues south to Morbio Inferiore, a village famous for the sanctuary of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. The road continues towards Chiasso and ends in Ligornetto where excellent Merlots are produced.

In fact, moving a little further up, the first stop to do is that of the Parco delle gole della Breggia. It touches the villages of Balerna, Castel San Pietro, Morbio Inferiore and Morbio Superiore. This green corner, where is a majestic stream of the same name and a small waterfall, is the meeting point for many young people and not during the summer period.

In fact, the small rocky beaches that are created allow you to spend an afternoon standing in the nature of the Valle di Muggio, located between the municipalities of Castel San Pietro, Balerna, Morbio Inferiore and Superiore. The river has eroded the limestone rocks of this stretch of its course, bringing to light 80 million years of geology.

An excursion to the Breggia Gorge allows you to take a trip back in time, going back up to 200 million years ago. Many natural and human components are present in the park, but in particular, the geology of the Breggia Gorge makes it one of the most important geotopes in Switzerland and the first Swiss geo-park.

Along this part of the river, the natural part created by water erosion has brought to light a geological profile almost continuous between the Jurassic and Tertiary (more than 80 million years). Many evidence of the presence of ancient seas is present in the rock of the gorges.

Remember the Pangea, the supercontinent that we all studied in science books? At the Breggia Gorges it is possible to observe rocks and fossils that document life in the depths of the Tetide Ocean, which bathed the current Eurasia. But not only that, it is also possible to retrace a fundamental step such as the raising of the Alps.

Layers extremely rich in fossils remained in the submerged layers, they also testify of climate change in the periods well before the Man appears on earth and they prove the existence of volcanic eruptions. Excavations have made it possible to reconstruct the evolution in very distant times of this part of the territory - the Monte Generoso basin.

The rocky strata of the park range from the Jurassic to the Tertiary, a veritable paradise for paleontology. But that's not all. The incredible perspectives and the very deep furrows that you will find along the way will make you really imagine being in the distant deserts of the wildest part of the States, also because of the red color of these extraordinary mountains.

While the Alps, as we know them, did not exist and the rocks that compose them were thousands of meters deep in the earth's crust or on the bed of the oceans. The park also has valuable flora and fauna, among which many protected species on a red list.

In these parts there are 542 different plant species, including 88 belonging to the red list of threatened plants, and dozens of different animal species. In particular, the park is a natural settlement for birds of the most varied species, which have always chosen it for hatching.

Admiring the Breggia stream and the rocks dug by the action of water it is thus possible to make a trip as rewarding for the eyes as it is rich in stimuli for the mind. Not by chance we find ourselves in one of the most important geological sites south of the Alps, reported by UNESCO as a model Geopark.

The Parco delle gole della Breggia is a very interesting area from a naturalistic and geological point of view, full of paths suitable for everyone like adults, children and even four-legged friends. After this necessary introduction here are some tips for the visit. The paths are numerous, but we suggest you start from the Mulino del Ghitello (in the municipality of Morbio Inferiore), which is the Park's headquarters.

Follow the water course until you reach Punt da la Bira, which takes its name from a former brewery. Moreover, the park also offers the possibility of discovering the two main itineraries, namely the historic one that starts from the Mulino del Ghitello and the geological one that leads from Mulin da Canaa to Ghitello.

Then, keeping the river to our left, skirt the former Saceba cement plant, very interesting for lovers of industrial archeology (it can be discovered with guided tours of the Cement Trail). Crossing the Ponte della Ciusa, a waterfall appears on our right. From here the path splits: we have walked the one on the right, towards the Punt dal Farügin.

From here you will have the opportunity to make various excursions and nature walks, following more or less demanding paths. It is the ideal place to admire the world from above, especially if the weather is clear, since you will even be able to see several Italian massifs such as Monte Rosa. It is a recommended trip also for the family with children!

Along the way the didactic panels give interesting information on the geological aspects of the route. Going along a bold walkway on the side of the rock reach the bridge, which crosses the river in its narrowest section. A welcoming picnic area (whose name, Prato delle Streghe, will no doubt appeal to the little ones) awaits, from which it is possible to go down to the water to admire the roar of the falls on the limestone of Moltrasio.

From here you can continue to Punt da Canaa and Castel San Pietro, where you can admire the Red Church, before descending to the Ponte della Ciusa thus completing the ring. If you are looking for a corner of Hawaii, you can incredibly find it on Swiss lakes. In particular on the Lido of Ascona, on the high Lake Maggiore.

Here the stand up paddle surfing took place, which comes directly from Honolulu. With the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, but in a resort that smells of the Pacific Ocean, the Wilson Sup, you can try this sport in which you'll have to paddle while keeping your balance on a surfboard. The choice includes tables for beginners or even for experts, with your muscles and not the wind making the difference.

If you move to the beautiful city of Lugano - take a stroll through the streets of the center and along the lake - you will also find other beautiful natural places to visit here: for example, the Val Mara. This is located in the territories of Bissone, Melano and Maroggia and rises towards the small inhabited centers of Rovio and Arogno.

Here there are splendid panoramic views that will allow you to enjoy the lake view. It is certainly the right destination for those who love hiking! Ticino, however, is not only nature but also culture. Bellinzona, which is the capital of Ticino, is known and appreciated for its wonderful medieval castles.

Think, even, that the castles and the forts have become part of the World Heritage Site in 2000! Even in this case you will have to walk up and down the paths that wind from the city center and lead over to the castles, but it's certainly worth it!

Of course, Switzerland is full of many other cities and natural places to see at least once in their lives. So, all you have to do is pack your suitcase and travel to discover a small part of Ticino!
Kalyan Panja