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Val Blenio, Ticino, Switzerland

This isn't an entirely random set of holiday snaps, as there was a purpose to them, and a connection of sorts with Glasgow.

In the course of work I'd got to know Raymond Ferrari who was a retired fireman (what he didn't tell me, and I only learned as a result of last year's commemoration, is that early in his career he had been lucky to survive the terrible Cheapside disaster). Around that time I was in the habit of spending 2 or 3 late summer weeks in the Swiss Alps, seeing what I could get up, and when I told him this he mentioned that his grandfather had come to Glasgow from Switzerland around the time of the Great War, having been born in the village of Ludiano in the Val Blenio, in the Italian-speaking canton Ticino. Raymond had a hankering to see where his ancestors had lived but domestic circumstances made foreign travel difficult for him, so I offered, when I got the chance, to get myself over there and bring back some photos.

The chance came in 2001 as September saw some cold and stormy mountain weather in the Alps, and in the Saastal with a week to go I gave up and headed south, walking up the Furggtälli  and over the Antronapass (around the time, though I only heard about it two days later, that the planes were slamming into the WTC) and down into the chunk of Italy which separates the Valais from the Ticino, bliss to get out of that bitter north wind. Then down to Domodossola and a packed and sweltering Centovalli train to Locarno, another train to Bellinzona, and a bus to Biasca, the small town at the foot of the Val Blenio.

Biasca, Via A. Pini. I wonder who told them I was coming??

Biasca stands at the convergence of two valleys, the steep narrow one on the left being the Valle Leventina which carries the railway and the busy E35 to the Gotthard Tunnels. The Val Blenio, to the right, which leads to the relatively minor Lukmanier Pass remains fairly quiet and pastoral. The big modern church (well, 1900ish, that's modern for a church around here) is the Rotondo di San Carlo.

The 13th century San Pietro e Paolo looks down on the town.


I was on the lookout for some Ferrari family traces.

In the Leventina direction.

In the Blenio direction.

I got a bus to Dangio, about 6 miles above Ludiano as I wanted to visit the Adula Hut of the Swiss Alpine Club, and the shortest path starts from here. 16th century Oratorio di Sant'Ambrogio, and the impressive peak of Sosto.

The Adula Hut.

The former Cima Norma chocolate factory, between Dangio and the neighbouring village of Torre. There had been in the valley a long tradition of chocolate making as a cottage industry (the expertise learned in Milan), and in 1903 the Cima family took over a former brewery to start production on a grander scale. The works had a troubled early history, destroyed in 1908 by a devastating flood in the Val Soi behind the factory, and again in 1915 by a fire which started in the cocoa-roasting plant. Twice rebuilt, and ownership having passed to the Pagani family (noted restaurateurs – Pagani's was was a leading London restaurant between the wars), it prospered for a while, reaching in the 1950s a peak annual production of 1500 tons of chocolate, with 340 employees, but, over-reliant on a single contract with a retail chain which was was terminated, the factory was shut down in 1968.

The 13th century San Pietro of Motto di Dongio, a few hundred yards north of Ludiano.

More Ferraris.

Ludiano, with Malvaglia across the valley.

Ludiano seemed to have a little vineyard round every corner.

Town House (maybe, not sure about that) and San Secondo church.

San Secondo was founded in the 13th century but was rebuilt (except for the tower) around 1780 in a surprisingly lavish Rococo style.

Lots more Ferraris.

If there's a shop of any kind in Ludiano I couldn't find it, but there is the Trattoria Beltrami. Beltrami is another Bleniese name, and Joe “Get me . . . “ 's grandfather came from Ludiano too, and at around the same time.

Some random views of Ludiano before I headed back to Biasca and a tortuous homeward journey.


Brilliant tie in tale that makes the images all the more poignant .. I love the image that looks a bit like the tomb on the south west side of the Necropolis in glasgow ... stunning stuff  

Gorgeous set Streapadair, certainly evokes emotion with views like those!

Streapadair...wonderful photo's and info, love the "The Adula Hut" just brilliant        

Hi Strepadair, stunning photos, thanks for sharing
I knew a Jackie Ferrari, I wonder if they were related

well done,thanks for sharing.evey picture tells a story right enough.

looks lovely
Doog Doog

excellent set,sir!

had another browse and noticed the tratoria beltrami.possibly another glasgow connection.

Yep, sputnik, quite possibly.

Thanks, everyone. It was my first time in the Ticino, and I enjoyed it. Superficially, you wonder why anyone would leave there for Glasgow or any other northern city, but as the heilanman said, ye cannae eat scenery. Like the rest of Switzerland there is a lot of mountain and not much agricultural land and few mineral resources, and the Ticinesi, like their ethnic kin the Italians, had skills which would be readily marketable in a prosperous city.

Looks stunning mate. Forum Index -> Scotland, UK and the World
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