Pro Natura Lucomagno Centre
The Lukmanier is undoubtedly one of Ticino's most beautiful regions and also one of the authors' favored places. At the heart of a hiker's paradise, the environmental association Pro Natura has revived a 1980's initiative meant to favor a harmonious relationship between man and nature. The Pro Natura Lucomagno Centre, situated in a beautiful mountain scenery, is equipped with room, board and offer a rich cultural program. It is an ideal starting point to explore this outstanding alpine park, where rare plants and flowers appear every summer.
The lodging where travelers crossing the Lucomagno Pass would usually stay overnight was transformed into a hotel in the 1950s. This interesting project in wood and stone was designed by the father of Ticino's modern architecture, Rino Tami.
The building is equipped with seven nice rooms, two dormitories and a camping ground with three yurts (Mongolian tents) from which guests can observe the stars at night. There is also a restaurant that offers a variety of local products such as the excellent alpine Lucomagno cheeses.
According to its promoters, the importance of the Centre does not revolve around the structure itself but rather around the emotions and joy that it brings to its guests and to those who want to discover the nature of the region. The Lucomagno - from Latin Lucus Magnus, big sacred forest - is in fact a unique place. Over the course of the centuries humankind has also contributed to enrich the beauty of the landscape creating open spaces and fields of flowers in bloom at altitudes where there would otherwise only be forest. Centuries of alpine farmers' labor have in fact replaced the forest with fields and pastures to fodder livestock, the main source of income in these alpine conditions.
The suggested itinerary crosses exactly these fields where rare plants and flowers appear every summer offering a captivating color palette. Behind the hotel there is also an important cantonal forestry reserve (Selvasecca) with a substantial presence of the Swiss stone pine. All the necessary information to discover the region can be found at the Pro Natura Centre that also organizes a vast cultural program and guided tours.
If you have more time…
Itinerary: Acquacalda - Dötra (2.5h, see map)
In the Lucomagno region there are itineraries accessible to all. We have chosen, from the many possible walks, a simple yet gratifying one for the beauty of the scenery. This walk invites you to discover the region of Dötra, between Olivone and the Lucomagno Pass. The summer makes the meadows bloom enveloping them in colorful flower corollas: a true spectacle that enchants visitors. The richness and the variety of the Dötra flora have been known for some time and the region is part of the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments worthy of protection.
The itinerary starts from Acquacalda, where the Pro Natura Centre is located, at approximately 1,750 meters. The trail through the pine trees quickly leads to the Croce Portera plain (1,917 meters) where the large cross invites passerby to a moment of silence and reflection. An enjoyable path of flowery meadows leads to the settlement of Dötra. Daisies, lilies, gentians, arnica, buttercups, wild orchids, anemones and other flowers compose unforgettable sceneries, especially between the months of June and July. In the area you may also spot various species of butterflies, other insects and around fifty species of nesting birds. The landscape is majestic, with high mountain peaks, flowery basins and rocks that emerge from the green surroundings.
Aside from the so-called "prati magri" (skinny fields) - with a soil poor in nutrition but rich in plant species - also present in the region are humid zones with great ecological interest. In Dötra there is a cabin that is open year-round and is the starting point for more demanding excursions. There’s also a grotto that offers an excellent meal. The trail continues towards Anvéuda a small conglomeration of houses set in a panoramic location.
The return can take place on the same trail or by accessing another one indicated only from Dötra that goes higher and leads back to Croce Portera from where you may then return to the starting point.
The Blenio Valley
This excursion is the perfect occasion to visit the beautiful Blenio Valley, nicknamed "Valle del Sole" (Valley of the Sun). We recommended to climb back up the valley from the street on the left bank of the river Brenno and descend from the right bank.
On the way up, the 15th century House of the Landfogti in Lottigna deserves a stop. The house is also the home to the History Museum of the Blenio Valley presenting, on the front of the house, the coat of arms of the families that dominated the valley in the past. By crossing picturesque villages (postcard-like, as Aquila) the trail leads to Olivone, home to the ethnographic museum of the valley and housed by the 16th century Ca’ da Rivöi.
Descending along the river's right bank, to be noticed are the ruins of the castle of Serravalle in Semione, built in the 12th century by Bleniese noblemen to control the Lucomagno passage. The castle was destroyed in 1402.
Crossing this valley, you will be struck by the presence of numerous noble houses from different epochs, built by the Bleniese that have earned a fortune abroad as chocolate makers, ice-cream makers, restaurateurs and chestnut sellers.