January 2011
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Travel – Bellinzona – famous for its three medieval castles

Bellinzona is in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. It is the capital city and is famous for its three medieval castles, Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. These three castles are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This capital city includes the village of Artore and is on the east of the Ticino River, which is at the foot of the Alps. It is suurounded by Saint-Gotthard Massif. Many major alpine passes several key alpine passes, including the Nufenen, St. Gotthard, Lukmanier, San Bernardino and the Poebene meet and make Bellinzona a key trading centre.
The city of Bellinzona has approximately 17,000 inhabitants. This city is famous for its Carnival Rabadan and the local football team, AC Bellinzona. It is also known to be the most Italianate town of Switzerland. This city is located at the narrow part of the valley to the Alpine passes of St. Gotthard, San Bernardino and Lucomagno (Lukmanier). This is a gateway to Italy and key to the Alps, in north and south directions respectively.
The city is unique with its Italian-style theatre, squares, old houses in Lombardy town and courtyards. The patrician houses tell the history of the place and the place has many churches too. For shoppers, there is a big weekly market on the Piazza Nosetto, every Saturday. This place boasts of the medieval architecture in the Alps. It was first ruled by Romans before it became a part of the Swiss federation. It is an ideal place for touring, for resorts etc. There are many resorts of Locarno, Ascona and Lugano. There are many valleys too to watch for like towards north, Leventina, Side valleys of Tessin, Bedretto valley and Blenio valley.
Among the three castles, The Castelgrande is situated on a rocky peak of the valley along with a series of fortified walls protecting the old city and connect to the Montebello, the second castle. The third castle (Sasso Corbaro) is located on an isolated rocky promontory south-east of the two other valleys.

The Top Events
• La Bacchica, wine festival (Sep – Sep )
• Chocodays – The chocolate week-end (Nov)

Place to see:
• Villa dei Cedri – It is a municipal art gallery which comprises of Swiss and Italian paintings dated back to late 19th and early 20th century. There is also focus on artists from the local area.
• Old Town – It is in the area around the Piazza Nosetto, Via del Teatro and Piazza del Governo. The Old Town is famous for the wealth of beautiful merchants’ houses, stone gateways, balconies with wrought iron railings and inn signs from the history. There is a big weekly market on the Piazza Nosetto, every Saturday. The city is unique with its Italian-style theatre, squares, old houses in Lombardy town and courtyards.
• Teatro Sociale – It is a building is in the typically Italian Classical style and the only theatre in Switzerland to have been preserved from the 19th century. It is said to be inspired by La Scala in Milan.
• Modern architecture in Bellinzona – In the castle, the Castelgrande, the architect Aurelio Galfetti has integrated a boldly designed restaurant. The Convento delle Agostiniane on the Monte Carasso has been converted into a modern training centre by the architect Luigi Snozzi.
• The three castles that have been part of UNESCO heritage sights.
• Castelgrande – This castle is part of the history and is the Old Castle in 14th and 15th centuries. This castle is made out of Castlegranade hill that is 150-200m in diameter and very steep on southern side. The insides of castle wall are now flat with many renovations and expansions. The castle grounds were once filled with buildings which were pulled down by the Dukes of Milan to have interior space. The walls, towers all were raised, extended and added. This castle has an elevator from foot to the top of the castle. It can also be reached by foot by climbing or from the streets of the city centre through the city wall.
• Montebello – Montebello is located of hilltop to the east of the town that is connected to Castlegranade. Montebello is known as the Small, New or Middle Castle in the 15th Century, as Schwyz Castle from 1506 and St. Martin’s Castle after 1818. It was also renovated and extended in 19th century. There is a dedicated chapel to Saint Michael. It has an Archaeological and Civic museum which was opened in 1974 in the tower. The museum is open from March to November. In the history section there are several capitals from the 15th Century and a rare 13th Century Baptismal font and collection of military arms along with drawings and sketches from several artists. The archaeology section includes items from 1400-1500 B.C. It also has a collection of ceramics, glassware, funeral urns, ornamental objects and jewellery in iron and bronze from around the canton.
• Sasso Corbaro – This castle is also known as Unterwalden Castle after 1506; Saint Barbara’s Castle after 1818 and is about 600m south-west of town on a rocky hill. This castle is not integrated to the other two with city walls. The first part of the castle was built in defense of the city to close a gap. It was built in 1478. It is open from March until November. This castle houses the Sala Emma Poglia built for Emma family. The room is typical with walnut panelling and suva, a stove for heating. It has temporary exhibits now.

How to get there:

By train: There are frequent trains from Milan to Lugano (takes 1 – 2 hours) and from Como (takes just over half an hour). All the major trains towards Zurich, Lugano, Chiasso, Locarno and Italy stop at Bellinzona. The train station in Lugano is situated above the city and you can either walk down towards the lake or take the funicular. The landscape between Chiasso – Lugano – Bellinzona is very beautiful, and the train goes very smooth and quiet.

By Road: The A2 and A13 motorways, as well as some main roads link to Bellinzona making it an important transitional node.

Best time to visit / climate:

The best time to visit Bellinzona is early summer to mid summer. The visit to the three medieval castles, Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro, the walk around Old town, to look at art gallery, this time would be just right for anyone to enjoy.

Location on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

• Wikitravel (link)
• Tripadvisor (hotel, restaurant)
Virtualtourist (reviews and restaurants)
• http://www.isyours.com/e/guide/ticino/bellinzona.hotels.html
• http://www.a1tourism.com/switzerland/bellinzona.html

Blogs / Sites about Bellinzona:

• http://wikitravel.org/en/Bellinzona
• http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-city/Switzerland/Bellinzona/tpod.html
• http://www.oleole.com/switzerland/bellinzona/tlnf.html
• http://www.mytripjournal.com/travel-Switzerland-Bellinzona
• http://realtravel.com/c-1449-23535-castle_vacations
• http://www.flexijourney.com/Bellinzona

Images and photos of Bellinzona;

Google Search
• http://realtravel.com/dp-23535-0-bellinzona_photos
• http://photos.igougo.com/pictures-l16593-Bellinzona_photos.html
• http://travel.webshots.com/album/128365658HShdpO
• http://wiki.worldflicks.org/bellinzona.html
• http://www.fotopedia.com/en/Three_Castles_of_Bellinzona

Videos of Bellinzona (link)

Castello Grande- Bellinzona, Switzerland

Bellinzona, Switzerland

Bellinzona city (Switzerland)

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