Story: Walking through the reed beds

What’s happening in a reed bed on Lake Maggiore?

An unexpected natural landscape just a short distance from Locarno

Fabrizia went there on school trips, she looked at them with her children from the beach at the lido in Magadino and now she is heading in to explore them aboard Marco’s little boat. The Bolle di Magadino resemble a service station for migratory birds. This unique and surprising natural landscape is just a short distance from Locarno.


Fabrizia Girò, fascinated by the Bolle di Magadino

Fabrizia Girò, fascinated by the Bolle di Magadino
I love the mountains, I love walking and exploring and I have been discovering Ticino on my walks for almost 20 years.

“Can you see that small one?! It’s one of the curiosities of the Bolle: a bald cypress that came from the Islands of Brissago, perhaps via a seed transported by the waves or a bird…” The words of ‘gondolier’ Marco Nussbaum make us look in a new way at that small tree emerging from the water, almost crushed by the branches of other plants.

This is a place where every detail can conceal a story and it’s very difficult to see some of them: your eyes have to grow accustomed and camouflage reigns supreme.

Fabrizia is excited: formerly a middle school teacher of plastic arts in Roveredo, she is still discovering hidden corners even now she has retired.

In actual fact, she’s always known about the Bolle di Magadino. When she was a teacher she brought some students here and she and her children visited the lido in Magadino, separated from the nature reserve by just a short expanse of water. However, she’d never gone on a free tour in a rowing boat, observing the nests, birds and nature from close-up. She will certainly be recommending it to friends and relatives!

Here everything has a story to tell, starting with the boat itself: it was built using no glue at all by a young man from Basel, whose family also built the large boats for the Swiss army.

Created for entirely peaceful purposes, this tranquil wooden vessel is the only one that can enter the protected zone.

Here there is a habitat for fish, plants, insects and almost 300 bird species, some of which come from Africa and stop here to refuel.

In fact, the Bolle di Magadino, which have been protected and managed by a specifically created foundation since 1974, resemble an enormous ‘service station’ for migratory birds.

Insects, some of which can be very unpleasant when exploring the paths between the water and plants, are an indispensable natural food source for birds, which congregate here on the shores of Lake Maggiore.



Here everything has a story to tell, starting with the boat itself.

Although she is not one of the many birdwatchers who visit Magadino from all over the place in search of rare species, Fabrizia watches the reed beds closely and sees turtles, herons, grebes…

… who knows whether the famous Little Bittern or the Great Reed Warbler can also be seen among those birds?

The reed beds, which are particularly prevalent in the ‘South Pole’ of the Bolle, where the soil created by the River Ticino is made up of sand rather than gravel, are also a particularly attractive colour.

In spring, the dry part of the vegetation and the new shoots merge to create an evocative sight, especially with a blue sky or the snow-covered peaks in the background.
In summer, the sky and river merge and the greenery becomes particularly bright.
The autumn colours and the quiet of the winter make these seasons unique too.



Fabrizia, who has been awestruck by the reed beds, is well aware of this. As well as the ones in Magadino, she has also visited others in Gudo, near the almost unknown Lake Demanio, while out with her friends in the walking group on a spring day.

Fabrizia loves the mountains, she loves walking and exploring and she has been discovering Ticino on her walks for almost twenty years. Every Thursday, and any other time there is a small group motivated to go out, she meets up with her friends and sets out on foot!



Pro tip
In the past the reeds were cut, bound and used as construction material, mixed with cement, to insulate walls or ceilings.
In 1888, work began on the construction of the embankments for channelling the River Ticino, which flowed freely until then. 1918 marked the start of the reclamation of land on the Magadino Plain.
Various scientific studies, primarily carried out from 1994 onwards, demonstrate the international importance of the Bolle di Magadino, one of nine protected wetlands in Switzerland.

“Can you see that small one?! It’s one of the curiosities of the Bolle: a bald cypress that came from the Islands of Brissago.”


Here in Magadino too, the time has come to get out of the boat and explore the paths that wind their way through the Bolle: what are these small bamboo-like bushes that Fabrizia is disappearing into?

An expert guide or a good book can give us the answer: the journey of discovery continues.