Monte Generoso is probably the most panoramic mountain in the Canton of Ticino. For over 125 years, visitors have been accessing its summit via a cogwheel railway. After reaching an altitude of 1,704 metres, you can enjoy a breathtaking view over Lake Lugano and the Alps. The view stretches from the Gran Paradiso to Monte Rosa, from Cervino to the Jungfrau, from the Gottardo mountain range to that of Bernina. Perched on top of its summit is the spectacular “Fiore di pietra” (Stone Flower) complex, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. Inaugurated in Spring 2017, it houses two restaurants and a panoramic terrace.
A cogwheel railway connects Capolago (situated at an altitude of 273m) on Lake Lugano to the station at the peak of the mountain, at an altitude of 1,704m. The picturesque mountain scenery through which the 9km railway passes, is the reason for Monte Generoso being listed as a site of significant national importance. Mendrisotto’s highest mountain offers a vast choice of excursions that are suitable for both, those in search of a relaxing stroll surrounded by nature, or avid mountaineers seeking a challenge on its mountainous trails. Along its 51km of tracks, excursionists can discover underground springs, kilns and the Peonia officianalis (garden Peony), or follow thematic trails including the "Sentiero della natura" (the Nature Trail) the "Percorso delle nevère" ( the Nevère Trail) or the "Via dei pianeti" (the Path of Planets).
Mario Botta's "Fiore di pietra" (Stone Flower)
Renowned Ticino architect Mario Botta has designed an octagonal building formed by individual petals that enclose a central space. On the eastern facade, this circular crown opens up to create a large terrace that follows the shape of the mountain’s crest. The arrangement of the petals forms a series of five-storey towers that jut out slightly towards the outside and then converge on the top floors (hence the name ‘Stone Flower’). Its reinforced concrete carrying structure is clad in grey stone with alternating smooth or split bands. The towers are connected to each other by glass joints and feature large glass windows, offering a 360-degree view over the surrounding landscape. The ground floor houses an exhibition space that explores the centuries-old history of the railway, while the upper floors are occupied by two restaurants and a conference room.
The two restaurants
The Generoso self-service restaurant serves hot and cold dishes inspired by local and international cuisine. This facility is located on the third floor and is connected to the large outdoor terrace.
Featuring large glass windows designed to offer diners a breathtaking 360-degrees view of the surrounding scenery, the prestigious panoramic restaurant "Fiore di Pietra" offers guests a fine-dining experience and a wide selection of dishes created using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Its assortment of Merlot wines from Ticino and Switzerland has personally been selected by Paolo Basso, a 2013 world champion sommelier.
More than 125 Years of History
The inauguration of Monte Generoso’s steam railway dates back to 1890. During the Second World War, tourism in this mountainous region declined rapidly and authorities thought of dismantling the railway in order to sell its tracks for iron. Convinced that Monte Generoso’s extraordinary panoramic terrace should continue to remain accessible, Gottlieb Duttweiler, the founder of Migros (one of Switzerland’s largest retail companies), purchased the railway in 1941. Seventy-six years later, thanks to the support of the Migros Cultural Percentage initiative, it continues to take visitors to the summit.
Equipped with a telescope measuring 61cm in diameter, the astronomical observatory was inaugurated on August 26th, 1996 in the presence of renowned astrophysicist and former ordinary professor at the University of Trieste, Margherita Hack. This unique observatory is open to visitors for observation of the skies on themed nights and of the sun (open every Sunday from June to September between 2.30 pm and 5.30 pm).
Visit to the "Grotta dell'orso" (Bear’s Cave)
Discovered in 1988 and located on Italian soil, the cave is at about 30 minutes walk from the "Fiore di pietra" building. The "Grotta dell’Orso" (Bear’s Cave) is site of important finds, including the remains of more than 800 cave bears who lived on Monte Generoso some 60,000 years ago, but later became extinct. Paleontologists still continue to study the cave today. The cave extends over 200 meters, 70 of which are now accessible for public viewing. Guided tours are available between June 4 and October 1, from 10.30 am to 4.00 pm.
The "nevère" (ice pits)
A "nevèra" (ice pit) is a cylindrical stone construction, with a cone-shaped roof covered with limestone slabs; 2/3 of the "nevèra" is underground. In winter, farmers filled these nevère with snow, so that, in summer, thanks to the karstic environment, they had a cool place in which to store milk before it was transformed into butter. Monte Generoso is the only place in Switzerland hosting such a large number of ice pits, several of which can still be found along the path that leads from its summit to Orimento. The Génor Alps are home to several of the most notable examples of restored ice pits, which are now accessible for public viewing.
Mountainbike & Paragliding
Mountain bike enthusiasts can test their skills by riding downhill from the Bellavista station along a shady, beech-lined track that leads to the cantonal road for Capolago, past the Art Museum and the traditional cellars of Mendrisio.
Paragliding from the summit offers aficionados a thrilling experience. During certain times of the year, paragliders will find themselves sharing the sky with numerous bird species including common buzzards, kites, falcons and eagles. The skyline encompasses the scenic landscape of Monte Generoso, the Muggio Valley, the whole of Mendrisio, the breathtaking region of Lake Lugano and the Alpine chain.