The history of Ticino’s rural past is told through a network of twelve ethnographic museums, all places of learning providing information on the canton’s past, establishing a link between the activities of the past and the evolution of modern society. Tourists should note that the most attractive of these museums are housed in ancient buildings in Ticino’s most beautiful valleys; valleys that contribute one of the most interesting offerings of our destination. The five that we’ve chosen are all set in picturesque locations, so that you can combine your visit to each museum with other Top attractions listed in our guide.
The Museum of Valmaggia
The Maggia Valley covers one fifth of Ticino’s surface. It extends for 50km from Lake Maggiore to the peaks that stand at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. This mountainous landscape, surrounded by side valleys, is dominated by the forces of nature. Man has tried to utilize the mountain’s meager resources for thousands of years. The Museum of Valmaggia in Cevio is a must-visit stopover for those who want to learn more about the valley, and the surprising heritage left by past inhabitants of the area, an example of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of their daily lives. The museum has two exhibition spaces in the old Cevio neighbourhood, a district comprising bourgeois houses built in the 1500s by the Franzoni families, who co-operated with the ‘Landfogti’ (representatives of the confederate cantons of which Ticino was a protectorate) for more than two centuries, playing an important political and economic role. Visitors can combine their tour of the museum with other Top attractions in the area, such as Bosco Gurin, the Church of Mogno and the Foroglio Waterfall.
April - October
Tuesday - Sunday, 1.30pm - 5.30pm
Tel. +41 (0)91754 23 68
Ethnographic Museum of the Muggio Valley
The Ethnographic Museum of the Valle Muggio (awarded Swiss Landscape of the Year in 2014) can be described as a "museum in the territory". Rather than being created as a repository for the collection of objects, it invites visitors to explore the valley and discover artefacts of museographic interest. These include ice pits (called "nevere") for the preservation of milk, snares ("roccoli") to catch migrant birds, mills to grind corn and chestnuts, and small stone buildings ("graa") used to dry chestnuts. In this way, the headquarters of Casa Cantoni in Cabbio assumes the role of an information centre, where tourists can obtain useful information to discover the area.
The visit can be combined with several Top attractions in the region, such as the Historic Center of Mendrisio, Foxtown and the Vincenzo Vela Museum.
April - October
Tuesday - Sunday, 2pm - 5pm
Tel. +41 (0)91 690 20 38
The Museum of Val Verzasca
The Verzasca Valley is famous for its picturesque village, the clear, emerald waters of its river, and its natural, unspoiled environment. The inhabitants of Verzasca subsisted on agriculture and sheep farming, from the middle-ages to the mid-twentieth century. Men, women and children practiced migratory herding which forced them to relocate several times during the course of the year to use the resources of the valley and the Piano di Magadino. The museum, located in a typical Verzasca house in Sonogno, tells the story of the valley also with the aid of a 3D model of the area which highlights the changes that took place in its history and landscape. One section of the museum is dedicated to the emigration of chimney sweepers, a typical trade of this valley’s past history.
This tour can be combined with the other Top attractions in the region, such as Corippo, the Verzasca River and Bungy Jumping.
May - October
Tuesday - Sunday, 11am - 4pm
Tel. +41 (91) 746 17 77
The Onsernonese Museum
The Onsernone Valley has retained its unusual physiognomy: green, wild, quiet and secluded. These characteristics have endeared it to famous artists and writers. Max Frisch called it the "homeland of the soul". Located in an ancient building in Loco, the Onsernonese Museum presents the history, nature and culture of the valley, with a particular focus on its traditional straw-making industry. Developed in the 16th century, this activity engaged the majority of its population until the 19th century. The art of straw-making lives on at the Pagliarte atelier in Berzona, where craftsmen continue to braid straw which is used to create contemporary hats, bags and accessories. An ancient water mill, used to grind different types of polenta flour, is located at the exit of the village of Loco, and is managed by the museum.
This tour can be combined with the other Top attractions in the region, such as Salei and Onsernone Valley and the Intragna-Loco mule path.
April - June:
Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday, 2pm - 5pm
July - October:
Wednesday - Sunday, 2pm - 5pm
Tel. +41 (0)91 797 10 70
The Blenio Valley Museum
The Blenio Valley, nicknamed the "Sun Valley", extends from Biasca to Lukmanier Pass at an altitude of 1,916 meters. Featuring an extensive network of trails (over 500km), this large nature park boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage. The area offers numerous landmark attractions that testify to its life, work and faith. The museum is housed in a monumental, 15th century mansion in Lottigna. Its façade is frescoed with the coat of arms of the Landfogti, the representatives of three primitive Swiss cantons, who governed the bailiwick (a jurisdiction or area of a bailiff) of Blenio. The permanent exhibition is divided up by themes: agro-pastoral, economy and craftsmanship. One of the rooms houses several examples of carved furniture, produced by the craftsmen of the high valley, while another features the reconstruction of a blacksmith’s workshop and a mill. Other highlights include the old arsenal where visitors can admire images depicting the art of viticulture, and the room of Mosè Bertoni, a native of Blenio. In 1893, Bertoni founded "Guillermo Tell” in Paraguay, an agricultural and scientific colony renowned for its vague anarchic-socialist ideals.
This tour can be combined with the other Top attractions in the region, such as the Negrentino Church, the Historic Trail of Blenio Valley and the Pro Natura Lucomagno Centre.
April - October
Tuesday - Sunday / Monday on public holidays, 2.00am - 5.30pm
Tel: +41 (0)91 871 19 77