Hello everyone and welcome back or welcome new travelers. We are traveling to Switzerland and today we are going to visit another city in the federal state. Today we are headed to Bellinzona. As always, let’s star with the presentation!

Bellinzona is a Swiss municipality in the Canton of Ticino. The city is crossed by the Ticino river. It hosts thirteen districts (Camorino, Giubiasco, Gnosca, Gorduno, Gudo, Moleno, Monte Carasso, Pianezzo, Preonzo, Sant’Antonio, Sementina). The city today offers one of the most significant examples of architecture that we will naturally admire. The local economy is mainly based on mechanical engineering. Bellinzona coat of arms is linked to the Milanese domination, so you can imagine that there will be a lot of Italian influence in this Swiss city. We also have to tell you some curiosities about Bellinzona: its inhabitants are known by the dialect nickname of “ciod” or nails and it would derive from a nail factory located in the city. Bellinzona is also called the City of the Wind or the “tri bofitt” (three winds in dialect), due to its constant exposure to the winds that storm the city. Furthermore Bellinzona is the city of carnival, the Rabadan carnival which is celebrated for six days. At the opening of the carnival the keys of the city are then handed over by the Mayor, who holds the carnival power for six days during which the inhabitants officially become “subjects” of His Majesty King Rabadan (personified by the mayor). The Rabadan is the largest carnival in Italian-speaking Switzerland and among the five most important carnivals in Switzerland. Now we would say it’s time to start!

To know more (what to eat, where to eat, where to have fun, things to visit…) continue to read.

We start the tour from the historical places to visit in the city.

 

PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS/THEATERS…)

la chiesa santa maria delle grazie
Santa Maria delle Grazie

Let’s start by saying that in Bellinzona there are three large Unesco heritage castles and these are: Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. They are the heart of the city.

  • Castelgrande: the castle is of unique beauty. The view is completely complete, 360 degrees. Everything is absolutely neat and perfectly preserved. You can safely walk everywhere, climb the tower and enjoy all the nuances of the panorama. It is also interesting to know its history through the museum located there. However, this is the closest castle to the center.

 

  • Montebello: also this is a fascinating and beautiful castle even in the evening with all its lights. This houses a museum with a section dedicated to the archeology and history of the origins of the city.

 

  • Sasso Corbaro: this castle is located on the sides of the left bank of the Ticino river. It is the farthest castle from the center and the smallest. It also houses a restaurant.

 

  • Villa Cedri Museum: the museum presents the artistic production of Ticino, Lombardy and Switzerland from the nineteenth century to today. The villa owes its name to the large cedars of the park where the villa is located. In particular, the graphic art of the great ancient artists is very present. Its beauty is that of being inside a historic residence, the structure of which has remained unchanged. The beauty is also in its beautiful park which you can enjoy safely once the exhibition is over. All kinds of trees, flowers of all varieties and even statues by different artists await you. What a suggestive atmosphere!

 

  • Church of San Bernardo: this is a religious building located in Monte Carasso (fraction of Bellinzona). The interior is almost completely covered with frescoes. The exterior the building is made of stone and is completely surrounded by nature. Obviously the view from the mountain (almost needless to say) is spectacular. 

 

  • Church of Santa Maria Grazie: is a Franciscan church of Bellinzona. The church is very intimate and very beautiful. The ceiling frescoes are gorgeous, as is its cloister. The church is very close to the center and is divided into two parts, one for the faithful and one for the exclusive use of the friars.

 

  • The monastery of Santa Maria Assunta: it is a monastery of absolute simple but of a precious beauty. There is a path to follow in total nature. The view is gorgeous. Inside the monastery you can also buy some typical jam or sweets.

 

  • Collegiate church of Saints Peter, Paul and Stephen: it is a Renaissance religious building. This houses numerous works of art dating back to a period between the 15th and 19th centuries. Among these are the large stoup and a famous organ. The interiors are finely and richly decorated. The church is also beautiful externally of a marble color. Its small square is noteworthy.

 

  • MACT/CACT museum: the first is a contemporary art center. Temporary art exhibitions are set up here in collaboration with Swiss and foreign museums and art centers. The second is a contemporary art museum that collects emerging works of art from private collections. Both are very interesting to visit. A real journey into art.
la villa dei cedri
Villa dei Cedri

 

ENTERTAINMENT (PUB/DISCO/PARKS…)

il ponte tibetano
Ponte tibetano

Here we are. The time for fun has come.

  • Carasc tibetan bridge: a striking Tibetan bridge suspended 130m above a wooded mountain gorge with a stunning panoramic view! Absolutely not suitable for those suffering from vertigo. The bridge is safe and easily accessible thanks to the cable car. Then you can continue with a nice hike if that’s not enough for you. Do it, it’s an incredible experience! Furthermore, the bridge connects the valley that separates the districts of Monte Carasso and Sementina. In the vicinity the nucleus of Curzútt where it is possible to eat typical dishes, sleep and have fun. A wonderful place.

 

  • Monte Bar: it is a mountain located in the Luganese Prealps. It is a destination for excursions all year round, in summer and in winter. During this last season with abundant snow it can be climbed with snowshoes and also in ski mountaineering. Several paths allow, without particular difficulty (thanks to its rounded shape) to reach the summit. The view from the top is extremely vast. On clear days practically all the mountain groups of the Alps, the Lombard plain, the Ligurian Apennines are visible. Just below the top, there is the Monte Bar hut where you can eat and find accommodation for the night.

 

  • Camoghè: is a mountain in the Luganese Prealps, in the Canton of Ticino. Its peak marks the border between the Bellinzona and Lugano districts. The excursion is fantastic and a little more tiring than the previous one. The flora is very present there. There is also a chapel near the summit dedicated to San Nicolao Flüe.

 

  • Valle Morobbia: it is a Ticino valley carved out by the Morobbia stream, located in the district of Bellinzona. The excursion is made by many paths where you will sometimes find different stone remains of ancient buildings. Very suggestive.
    Also beautiful are the Sauru Mountains that explore more wooded trails.

 

  • Vogorno Lake: it is an artificial lake created by the Contra dam which blocks the flow of the Verzasca river. Crazy to see, so much that it appears in the first drops of the movie Golden Eye, a 1997 movie from the James Bond series.

 

  • Motto della Croce: place where you can enjoy a fabulous view of Lake Maggiore on one side, the Riviera on the other and, on clear days, the peaks of Monte Rosa. To give you an idea, the excursion starts from Bellinzona station, and then climbs towards Artore and Pian Laghetto, where the path then winds its way in a zigzag through a forest of chestnut and birch trees up to the mountains of Artore. Continuing it becomes steeper and you reach the cross. The view pays off for every single step taken!

 

  • Golena park: a beautiful park, with several play areas for the older and younger ones. The park is surrounded by nature on the bank of the Ticino river. How beautiful!

 

  • Around the city there are so many things to do and see. Surely you will come across the war memorial of the first world war or the civic palace of Bellinzona which can be visited.
il motto della croce
Motto della croce

Bellinzona nightlife is very lively especially in certain places such as: Collegiata square or Nosetto square or even near the medieval gate.

Among the places that we can find we have:

  • Capital Club: night club
  • Night Club Miami Vice: disco
  • Dancing La Clava: night club
  • 6500 Bar Disco Music Sagl: disco
  • La Terrazza Lounge

 

TYPICAL FOODS

il minestrone ticinese
Minestrone ticinese

Get ready to eat! Let’s find out first what are the typical dishes.

The cuisine of Bellinzona navigates in its firm roots but is also influenced by the Lombard one, as the two are bordering on each other.

  • Polenta ticinese: a typical dish of the Alpine area. It is very simple but really good. Among the ingredients we obviously find the corn from which it is made, then vegetable broth, butter, cheese and rosemary as a finishing touch for garnish.
  • Minestrone ticinese: a very rich soup made up of beans, bacon, onion, potatoes, courgettes, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, celery. A booster of energy and goodness!
  • Salmì rabbit: from an ancient recipe, the dish is mainly composed of rabbit. The peculiarity is that it will be marinated in wine with different spices and condiments will be added to make it even tastier.
  • Bread cake: it is basically a dessert consisting of stale bread, amaretti, vanilla with the addition of cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pine nuts and a drop of grappa. Very, very good!
  • Among the sweet delights of Bellinzona there is also “amér de castégn e téi” (chestnut and linden honey). The chestnut is certainly the undisputed queen of the whole of Ticino.
la torta di pane
Torta di Pane

 

WHERE TO EAT (RESTAURANTS/CAFE’…)

Now we just have to know the place where you can find the typical dishes of Bellinzona.

  • Ristorante Casa del Popolo: Italian, Swiss cuisine.
  • Osteria Sasso Corbaro: Italian, Swiss cuisine.
  • Locanda Lessy: Italian, Swiss cuisine.
  • Grottino Ticinese: Italian, Swiss, European cuisine.
  • Trattoria Cantinin dal Gatt: Swiss, Mediterranean, European cuisine.
  • Varano: Italian, Swiss cuisine.

 

We have come to the end of the discovery of Bellinzona. Now it is already time to leave for our next Swiss destination.

Let us know your opinions about this place. If you liked it or not, if you’ve been there or you’re going to go there? What  you liked the most or least? We’re curious to read your opinions.

A big kiss to everyone.

 

Bellinzona travel guide on Pinterest

48 thoughts on “Bellinzona: what to see, what to do, what to eat

  1. La foto mi ha subito fatto venir in mente il paesaggio scorto dal treno quando da quelle parti sono passata con la promessa di fermarmi ed in effetti mi hai appena mostrato, con il tuo articolo, che vale proprio la pena visitare questa città!

  2. As someone who struggles with planning, I feel like this article was literally a set schedule for me. Loved how you provided places to visit and eat. It was really interesting and made me want to go asap!!

  3. The place looks great to enjoy your travels. I am huge in Switzerland but never visited Bellinzona. I am a huge fan of contemporary art so CACT/MACT sounds amazing to me, it is definitely what I’d go far to visit. Nice food options as well, during the colder season you just can not go wrong with minestrone! chestnut and honey dessert is something I always eat when I have a chance (and place in my stomach)

  4. Di tutto il post ammetto di essermi innamorata della parte che parla del cibo. Sogno un tour gastronomico da realizzare in questa zona che, ammetto, non conosco per nulla.

  5. Che bei ricordi ho legati a Bellinzona. Mi hai proprio ispirato tantissimo, voglio tornarci presto. Adesso cerco i social dei MACT per informarmi sulle iniziative, così alla prima colgo la palla al balzo e torno a visitarla seguendo le tue dritte!

  6. E niente è tutto bellissimo, ma sarà la mia deformazione professionale ma io mi soffermo sempre sulla descrizione dell’enogastronomia del posto e qui mi sembra bella ricca di gusto.

  7. Da tanto non vado nella zona del Canton Ticino, ti ringrazio quindi per avermi offerto un’idea per prossimi week end fuori porta.

  8. It sounds like a lovely place to go for a visit. I’ve not been anywhere in Switzerland for years now. I would love to go again soon.

  9. Wow this place looks absolutely beautiful. I’ve only been to Switzerland once before but I definitely wasn’t there long enough to explore as much as I’d liked to x

  10. My dream is to go to Europe one day and just travel through all the countries. I’ve never been but my goodness, what a gorgeous city!

  11. I think I would spend all of my time in Bellinzona visiting all of the cafes and restaurants. I’m sure the food here is wonderful!

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