Press Release, January 2018
Nothing can perk up your spirits after a long winter better than a soul-soothing hike or stroll in the Ticino countryside to soak up the spring sunshine. Camellias, magnolias, azaleas, peonies and rhododendrons bursting forth with a kaleidoscope of colours, the heady scent of mimosas, well-tended palm gardens and magnificent views of the deep-blue Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano make the Ticino the perfect place for nature lovers to enjoy a spring walk. In Switzerland’s southernmost canton, spring begins earlier than elsewhere in the country. With its mild temperatures, the lake region is awash with blossom as early as February.
Take a walk along a nature trail to explore the flora and fauna of Monte Caslano
Monte Caslano, on the shores of Lake Lugano, showcases an exceptionally rich botanical diversity representative of the entire canton of Ticino in a relatively small area. Five hundred metres high and mostly surrounded by lake, the hill offers spectacular views of the bay of Caslano and Agno and all the way to Italy. The precious natural landscape of the hill is home to around 600 plant species and 150 moss species, which have been identified and officially recorded. This rich biodiversity is attributable to the site’s favourable location in the southern foothills of the Alps and its mild temperatures, ideally suited to a few exotic specimens as well. A nature trail of just under 7 km allows you to easily explore this nature park. The trail starts and finishes at the Ticino village of Caslano, which can be reached by car or boat.
San Salvatore – Morcote through nature and culture
A classic itinerary takes you from the summit of Monte San Salvatore through woods of sweet chestnut, past the artists’ village of Carona and down to the lake at Morcote – a village crowned Switzerland’s prettiest in 2016. The funicular railway at Lugano-Paradiso is a convenient way of ascending the 912 metres to the summit. Breathtaking 360° views may be had from the roof of the church and the viewing terrace before you set off on this easy-going walk through the woods to the artists’ village of Carona. It’s worth visiting the Parco San Grato botanical gardens here, whose 62,000 square metres are home to the Ticino’s most extensive collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and conifers. The path continues through the chestnut woods and finally down one hundred-plus steps to the lake and picturesque Morcote. The Parco Scherrer botanic garden is at its most magnificent in April and May, when it is blanketed in a colourful, gloriously scented sea of blossom—a truly special atmosphere—becoming a Mecca for nature lovers. Created by textile merchant Arthur Scherrer back in the 1930s, the exotic gardens are home to architectural and artistic works inspired by distant cultures and to camellias, wisteria, oleanders, cedars, cypresses, camphor trees, magnolias, azaleas and other subtropical vegetation, which flourish there. From Morcote you can return to Lugano by boat or bus. Length: 9.81 kilometres, duration: 3.5 hours, difficulty: medium
Panoramic walk Monte Verità – Ronco
Starting at Monte Verità, the legendary birthplace of the alternative movement in the heights above Ascona, there is a scenic high mountain trail leading up to Ronco (about two hours). Situated on a ridge between Asona and Brissago, this area is known as the ‘balcony over Lake Maggiore’ for its stunning views. Many artists settled here. Some are also buried in the local cemetery, including Erich Maria Remarque, author of “All Quiet on the Western Front”, along with his wife, actress Paulette Goddard. Other famous names include painter Richard Seewald and retail magnate Max Emden, who once owned the Brissago Islands, making a visit to the cemetery a fascinating excursion through history. From Ronco, 800 steps lead down to the lake below. One may return to Ascona by boat, via a stopover on the Brissago Islands. The lakeside promenade with its many restaurants is the perfect place to celebrate the dolce vita into the night.
Hike to the Sacred Wood of Mergugno with its magnificent alpine laburnum trees
Situated above Brissago at an elevation of more than 1000 metres is the forest reserve of the Sacred Wood of Mergugno, home to a tree of outstanding beauty, namely the alpine laburnum. The Sacred Wood, with its magnificent mature specimens of the tree, is among the most beautiful subalpine forests in Switzerland. The wood is located within the grounds of the Locarno National Park Project and has been protected since medieval times. The wood is at its most magical in May and June, when it is aglow with the bright yellow, fragrant butterfly-like flowers of the alpine laburnum. The 8.5-km mountain hike starts at the small parking area above the hamlet of Mergugno (1,050 m asl). From there you need to follow the signposts for “Capanna Al Legn” until you spot a sign for the sacred wood (“Bosco Sacro”). A well-maintained path leads up to the gorgeous wood, which extends up to an elevation of 1,600 metres. The path passes Alpe Arolgia and carries on to the self-catering hut “Capanna Al Legn” at 1,804 m asl, which offers hikers the chance of a welcome rest. Those with a head for heights can continue up the path to the summit of Mount Gridone, the highest point around Lake Maggiore at an elevation of 2,188 metres. The summit, marked with a large iron cross, offers spectacular 360-degree views—with such a reward, the effort of the climb is quickly forgotten.
Take a stroll along Lake Maggiore—From Tenero to the Camellia Garden in Locarno
Among the most popular walks along the shores of Lake Maggiore (also known as Lago Verbano) is the scenic waterside path from Tenero to Locarno. Along the lakeside promenade, many Mediterranean and subtropical plant species from all continents flourish. Between the attractive flower beds and Mediterranean vegetation you will discover the Jean Arp Gardens with sculptures by the artist. Then there are the camellias—undisputed heralds of spring. The Camellia Garden in Locarno offers a spectacle like no other at this time of year and is one of the largest and best-stocked gardens of its kind in Europe. It was inaugurated in 2005 on the occasion of the International Camellia Society World Congress. Five years later, it was awarded the much coveted title of Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society. The garden is also part of the Gardens of Switzerland network, which brings together the most beautiful gardens in the country. Covering an area of more than 10,000 square metres, the garden offers visitors a chance to admire almost a thousand different varieties of camellia. If you are in Locarno on 21-25 March 2018, don’t miss the “Locarno Camelie” exhibition at the Castello Visconteo with its display of more than 200 varieties of camellia and the accompanying cultural programme.
Spring hike in the Gambarogno
Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the spring sunshine, admire the fragrant flower gardens of the numerous villas and explore the magnificent Eisenhut Botanic Garden, accompanied by spectacular views of Lake Maggiore: These are the highlights of the approximately 1.5-hour short hike up the sunny hill of Gambarogno. The trail begins at the port of San Nazzaro and leads uphill towards Vairano. After lunch at Ristorante Gambarogno, close to Vairano, the walk continues with a tour of the Eisenhut Botanic Garden. Set on a hillside terrace between Piazzogna and Vairano and covering an area of 17,000 square metres, this magnificent botanic garden was created back in the mid 1950s by plant enthusiast and nursery owner Otto Eisenhut, who lavished great skill and dedication on his creation. Today, the garden is managed by his son Reto Eisenhut. The Eisenhut Botanic Garden is at its most colourful between mid March and mid May. With 950 species and varieties of camellias and 800 different magnolias, azaleas, peonies and rhododendrons, there are always new flowers to discover on a walk around the garden. Back on the trail, the hike proceeds to Piazzogna and on to Fosano. From there, it descends to the pier in Vira.