Trail of Marvels
The Trail of Marvels is an interesting, family-friendly, circular itinerary in Malcantone that starts and ends in Novaggio. Along the marked path that winds through the valley of the Magliasina-river between Novaggio, Ponte di Vello and Aranno, there are several attractions of historical, natural and scenic interest: from the evidence of human activities (dry stone walls, mills and a water powered trip hammer) to a wetland environment abounding in several noteworthy species of flora and fauna. Among the wonders of this trail there are the remains of an old castle and the mines where gold was once extracted.
The Malcantone region offers an interesting, pleasant variety of landscapes, stretching from the shores of the lake to the summit of Monte Lema, passing through hills dotted with beautiful villages and large woodland areas. The local tourist board has been a pioneer in the creation of thematic and educational itineraries designed to help visitors explore more popular as well as less travelled areas, allowing them to discover traces of old buildings and the evidence of human activities connected to agriculture, husbandry and the exploitation of all types of natural resources.
Itinerary: Trail of Marvels (4h, see map)
The Trail of Marvels is a 7-kilometre, family-friendly, circular route (about four hours walk) that starts and ends in Novaggio. The itinerary is particularly interesting for those who wish to encounter testimonies of the area’s past. Along the marked trail, that winds through the valley of the Magliasina-river between Novaggio, Ponte di Vello and Aranno, there are several points highlighting several characteristics of the region, including the dry stone walls that marked the boundaries of properties, terraces where farmers used to grow rye, kilns for firing bricks and roof tiles (a common activity in Malcantone) and mills for grinding grains and chestnuts. Also of particular interest are the various species of flora and fauna found in the area, including insects, reptiles, birds and rodents and, in the riverside woodland, alder, ash, maple, and hawthorn trees.
However, what is most likely going to capture your attention is what remains of a singular activity, namely the extraction of minerals. On the way you will encounter traces of the mines where small amounts of gold and silver, but of also zinc and sulphur, were found in the 19th century, together with signs of soil probes related to mining, abandoned in the early 20th century.
Another gem of the trail is the Aranno trip hammer, the only water-powered lever trip hammer that still exists in Switzerland, and which was, in fact, operative until 1951. Iron was manufactured and various tools were produced thanks to the force of the water that operated it. An exhibition housed on the top floor tells the trip hammer’s story.
The trip hammer is generally open to the public from May to October; however, in case of rain it remains closed.
The remains of a castle are also visible along the way, positioned on what was probably an old communication route forming part of a fortified line along the Magliasina valley. Shaded by a thick forest, the site hosts a playground and a picnic area.
The Trail of Wonders is also accessible from Aranno, Ponte di Vello (where you can find an agritourism) and Miglieglia. In order to follow the route more easily, we recommend downloading the informative brochure featuring a map of the area from the website of the Lugano Region Tourism Office.
In order to complete your visit of the region head to Migliegla, whose cemetery hosts the charming church of Santo Stefano al Colle embellished with several magnificent frescoes and then continue on to Novaggio, boasting a series of murals, forming a sort of open-air art gallery.