Northern gate to Italy - Bellinzona
In ancient times, three castles, Castello Sasso Corbaro, Castello Montebello and Castelgrande, caused an admiration and respect, acting as a defense of Bellinzona. Today they tell their story, protecting the most Italian of all cities in Switzerland.
Bellinzona is called the gate to northern Italy. It’s located in the southern part of Switzerland, on the east bank of the river Ticino. It’s famous for its powerful fortifications - medieval castles belonging to the most important monuments of defensive architecture in the Alpine region. In 2000, all three have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The beauty of Bellinzona
Swizz Bellinzona captivates with its beauty and precision of architecture. Its old town attracts the eye with richly decorated houses, solid, wrought-iron balconies and stone gates. You can take a stroll around Piazza del Governo, Via del Teatro and Piazza Nosetto - extremely picturesque places. Every Sunday there’s a market organized on Piazza Nosetto.
In the old part of the city there’s a collegiate of St. Peter and Stefan, and the church of Chiesa di S. Maria delle Grazie. The main attraction also include Teatro Sociale, built in a classic Italian style. It’s regarded as the only nineteenth-century Swiss theater, which has survived to our times. Its creators were inspired by the building of the Milan opera stage of the Teatro alla Scala.
Equally noteworthy is the city art gallery - Museo Civico Villa dei Cedri. It includes paintings by Italian and Spanish artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the gallery itself is surrounded by a beautiful park.
Streets of Bellinzona hide many beautiful temples and patrician houses. During the break between exploring we can try delicious Italian pizza, made with the Swiss precision. You should know that the local wine is exquisite, but because of low production you can enjoy it only in restaurants (it’s impossible to buy it in the shop).
In the city you can see many interesting monuments, however without any doubts, the greatest fame is due to three powerful Bellinzona castles. Fortified complex is a unique example of medieval military architecture, the only preserved in the whole Alpine region.
On the top there’s Castello di Sasso Corbaro, the walls of which house ethnographic museum. The castle is a separate entity, unlike the other two, connected with each other by remnants of defensive walls. Surrounded by vineyards, is the smallest and the youngest.
The oldest and largest of the castles is Castelgrande. From there you can clearly see the entire city and surrounding area. Two belonging to the fortress towers (Torre Bianca and Torre Nera) rise above the old part of Bellinzona. The castle has a restaurant, the art and archaeological museum.
The last of the fortress is surrounded by deep moats Castello Montebello. The fort is located in the eastern part of Bellinzona and, like two sisters, is now a museum (archaeological).
Campsites in Switzerland – Bellinzona area
If you are seeking an accommodation outside the hotel you’ll surely find something suitable. At a distance of approx. 10-15 minutes from Bellinzona and Locarno there’s a year-round Camping ISOLA. The place for motorhome costs 17-21 CHF (16-20 EUR) and adult accommodation from 8,50-10,50 CHF (8-10 EUR). For the access to electricity you will have to pay 4 CHF (approx. 3,5 EUR) per day.
Northern gate to Italy is the perfect starting point for further trips. It’s located about half an hour away from Lake Maggiore, with many larger and smaller campgrounds (eg. Campeggio Lago Maggiore in Tenero). Leaving the Swiss side of Lombardy and the town surrounded by high mountains, you can go to Ascona and Locarno. There’s also sunny Lugano waiting for you to explore.
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