Historic trail of Blenio Valley
The historic trail of the Blenio Valley leads visitors to the discovery of an area abounding in artefacts of life, work and faith. Along the way, which runs through a lush region amidst fields and woods, one encounters churches and chapels hosting priceless works of art, the charming ruins of a castle, numerous rustic buildings, including a winepress and several grottoes that are well integrated into the landscape. Part of this scenery is also the "Round House", formerly the dwelling of a singular individual photographer Roberto Donetta, housing today the archive of his images of Blenio Valley during past times.
Itinerary: Historic trail of Blenio Valley (5h, see map)
The route, developed by the local tourist board, begins and ends in Acquarossa. Easily accessible by public transport, the path is signposted with brown-colored signs (Sentiero storico 1). From this village, which owes its name to its mineral-rich thermal waters, you can walk towards Corzoneso where you can visit the beautiful church dedicated to Saint Nazzaro and Saint Celso, embellished by stuccos and frescoes. Further along the trail, you will reach the hamlet of Casserio, where the Donetta Archives are housed in a round building, formerly home of photographer Roberto Donetta (1865-1932) who divided his time between his passion for photography and several run-of-the-mill jobs to support his large family. He worked as seeds pedlar and, in winter, as a “marronaio” (chestnut seller), migrating, like his fellow villagers, to northern Italy. He lived and died in great poverty. His plates were only recovered recently and his photographs, of enormous historic value, are now on display in his "Round House".
(For opening hours visit www.archiviodonetta.ch).
After leaving Corzoneso, continue onwards to Mount Navone (770 meters), an idyllic place where, amidst vast meadows, you will come across several interesting rustic buildings and a chapel dedicated to Santa Maria Bambina. This unique, octagonal, Baroque-style-building hosts several paintings depicting the life of the Virgin Mary.
The trail then descends to Semione, through forests and meadows offering beautiful views over the villages in the valley below. With its bell tower, its churchyard hosting the chapels of the ‘Via Crucis’, an 18th century cross and the Chapel of the Deceased, the recently restored village church forms an architectural ensemble of great beauty and artistic value. In particular, standouts include the frescoes in the chapel, several of which are thought to have been painted by artists of the Seregnesi school (15th century). The village also boasts several picturesque houses built in the late 19th and early 20th century by emigrants who had returned to their homeland.
While walking along this historic path, make sure to stop and admire the ruins of the Serravalle Castle. Overlooking the rocky promontory, surrounded by lush green countryside, partially covered by vineyards, you will find the remains of several of its grey walls testifying the storied past of this stronghold. These are now object of study and restoration. The church of the castle, situated just a little lower down, houses 16th century frescoes by Giovanni Battista Tarilli Cureglia.
Continue along the path and follow the signs leading to Ludiano, an area abounding in vineyards and grottoes boasting an ancient 18th century lever wine press. At this point, a stop at the grotto is an absolute must!
A short detour will take you to the discovery of the beautiful San Pietro di Motto church. The Romanesque building dates from the 13th century and was expanded in the 16th century.
Enter the woods to reach the chapel of Santa Maria del Monastero, also known as San Martino Viduale. The area once hosted a hospice for wayfarers who undertook the long journey, either travelling from north to south through the Lucomagno pass or arriving from the Nara pass. Legend has it that Martino Rossi, a native of Blenio, actually worked here, later going on to become the most famous chef of the Italian Quattrocento (namely the 15th century).
Once back on the path, before returning to the starting point in Acquarossa, you will come across the charming Romanesque church of San Remigio (11th century), located in the hamlet of Boscero.
The historic trail of Blenio Valley is an easy, 14 kilometer hike that will take about 5 hours to complete without stops.
For the access keys to the religious buildings found along the way (generally closed), we recommend making enquiries at the tourist office in Olivone (tel. 091 872 14 87).