Biking from Airolo to Biasca


A comfortable all downhill bike ride from Airolo (1160 m) to Biasca (301 m) along a 40 km course. You can rent the bikes in Airolo and return them in Biasca following the beautiful itinerary that unwinds on the floor of the valley, partially on secondary roads, along the River Ticino. Along the way you will go through places of interest such as the Dazio Grande at the opening of the striking Gole del Piottino (Piottino Gorge), the village of Giornico with the splendid Romanesque church of San Nicola, the Alptransit Infocenter and the outstanding churches of SS. Pietro e Paolo (Saints Peter and Paul) and of Santa Petronilla in Biasca.


The itinerary

The route from Airolo to Biasca is one of the legs along the "North-South route" on which you can cross Switzerland on a bicycle from Basel to Chiasso.

The Dazio Grande and the Piottino Gorge

From Airolo, go down the Cantonal road towards Quinto/Piotta. Just outside the village of Rodi-Fiesso you will run into the Dazio Grande (old custom check point) where travelers in the past were required to stop and pay a toll for merchandise and people, with the option of also having a rest and a refreshment. In fact, a little further travelers were faced with a serious obstacle: the narrow gorge that the River Ticino dug in the Monte Piottino rock.

From the Dazio Grande you can also have an interesting and easy walk that is well signposted and approximately 1.5 hours long. Along the way, ruins of the Dazio Vecchio, an old customs house erected at the beginning of the 1300s by the Milanese, are visible. Proceed through the woods following the signpost Ponte di Mezzo. Immediately after the bridge, a gangway gives access to the gorge and the "Uri road" (old road named after the neighboring canton), a 1500s masterpiece, chiseled from live rock. From there, you will return to the starting point.

From the Dazio Grande you can also access the Piottino Gorge by avoiding the abovementioned circular itinerary. Simply walk down the Cantonal road and take the trail that leads to the old mule track and to the gorge.

Continue the bike itinerary to reach the village of Faido and then take the peaceful little road towards Nivo where you can admire the nice electric power plant built by Milanese architect Giovanni Greppi according to the Lombard industrial style of the early 1900s.

The Biaschina

The descent continues down the zigzagging of the Biaschina, true crossroad of the North-South communication route: the A2 freeway with its impressive viaduct inaugurated in 1983, the railway line from 1882 and finally the winding Cantonal road. Above this bottleneck you can observe the trains from the Gottardo line entering and exiting the coiling tunnels designed to overcome the almost 200 meters of gradient.

Giornico and the church of San Nicola

Continue to Giornico, where you can visit the modern Ethnographic Museum of the Leventina Valley and the church of San Nicola considered one of the greatest expressions of Romanesque architecture in Ticino. Built in the 12th century with a plain and rigorous style, it sticks out of the vineyards with its stone presence: sturdy, simple and noble. Remarkable are the portal and the Southern facade with the little sculptures, the main facade, the crypt with the mysterious capitals, the apse frescoes and the baptismal font at the entrance.

The churches of SS. Pietro e Paolo and of S. Petronilla in Biasca

At the end of the bike ride, you will arrive in Biasca, a town that was remarkably important in the past and which still preserves some significant historic monuments. Behind the 16th century Casa Cavalier Pellanda, today a cultural centre and home to the tourist office, stands a parish church dedicated to San Carlo and built in the latter part of the 1800s. From here, take the stairway to the beautiful 12th century Romanesque church of SS. Pietro e Paolo. Precious frescoes are inside (12th-17th centuries). On the right, a trail running along the old cemetery connects to the Via Crucis blessed in 1779. Shaded by chestnut trees, a succession of 14 chapels expose mosaics of contemporary artists. In about twenty minutes on foot you will reach the stone bridge on the Froda stream, the beautiful waterfall and the Santa Petronilla Oratory, rich in frescoes of an unknown author from 1638-1651.