Autumn color under blue skies, Ticino, Switzerland

When leaves have already dropped elsewhere in Switzerland’s mountain regions, it is time to head south—as far south as you can go without leaving the country. The Mendrisiotto region of Canton Ticino offers a mix of experiences, from hiking trails to wine trails and tastings, to seasonal festivals.  Last week, a sharp left turn off the main highway through Mendrisio brought me to the Valle di Muggio. What a discovery!

The valley, cradled between Monte Generoso and the woodsy Italian border is a walker’s paradise in spring and summer. In autumn, the pace seems slower, with time to gander. In early November, there was still plenty of color to delight, vibrant yellows and rusty oranges of the season. In winter, hardy souls will venture up from Mendrisio to walk solitary paths, snow clods crunching beneath their boots, crisp air filling their lungs.

Autumn drive in the Valle di Muggio, Ticino
In autumn, the valley’s roads are lightly traveled, dappled with shadows and spots of color.
Share the road with sheep in the Valle di Muggio
Everything’s a bit rounder here: the hills, the curves in the roads, even the sheep.

Chiesa Rossa in San Castel di Pietro

Chiesa Rosa, Castel San Pietro
The aptly named Rose Church is a short walk downhill from the traffic circle and crook in the road that starts the climb into the Valle di Muggio. Inside, the walls are covered with 14th century frescoes.

Cabbio—A tiny village with year-round appeal

Cabbio, Mendrisiotto, Ticino
My base in Mendrisiotto was tiny Cabbio, a twenty-minute drive up the valley from Mendrisio. This blip on the Swiss map offers magical views each morning as the autumn fog lifts through the valley.

Bruzella’s historic mill

Bruxella polenta mill, Valle di Muggio, Ticino
The 300-year-old mill sits at the bottom of a leafy trail down, down, down to the mill stream.
Griding polenta, Bruxella, Mendrisiotto, Ticino
Through the end of October, the mill at Bruzella grinds polenta several days a week.

Solarino—taste a cheese like no other

Zincarlìn de la Val da Mücc
Zincarlìn de la Val da Mücc is a soft raw cheese made from cow, or mixed cow and goat milk. The locally produced spicy cheese was Switzerland’s first Slow Food Presidium, rescued from extinction less than a decade ago.

Scudellate—Exceptional home cooking in Ticino’s highest village

Osteria Manciana, Scutadelle, Mendrisiotto, Ticino
Scudellate’s buildings sidle around a sharp bend in the road up Monte Generoso. Its population of 25 more than doubles in summer; year-round, the hamlet boasts one of the best cooks in the region.
Piera Piffaretti, Osteria Manciana, Scutadelle, Mendrisiotto, Ticino
Piera Piffaretti’s infectious laugh invites a visitor to linger over the wooden tables in the cozy dining room-with-a-view. Her fabulous food makes it impossible to do anything else.

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My stay in the Valle di Muggio was sponsored by Mendrisiotto Tourism; the opinions are mine.

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