Story: A picnic at the Piumogna waterfall

A cascade of memories

Spend a happy afternoon in a nature reserve in the Leventina

The Piumogna waterfall in Faido is the perfect place for a pleasant picnic with your family or friends. The beautiful nature is captivating, the waterfall cools the air, and history also makes its presence felt in this location in the Leventina: this town was already a popular tourist resort in the 19th century, but what has silk got to do with all this?!

THE CHARACTER

Omar Bariffi, an exciting picnic next to the Piumogna waterfall

Omar Bariffi, an exciting picnic next to the Piumogna waterfall
A photo to immortalise the extraordinary turquoise hues of the water is essential!

You don’t even have to get out of the car to see that this is the perfect place you had imagined for the afternoon: the waterfall is stunning and its colours glisten in the sunlight. A photo to immortalise the extraordinary turquoise hues of the water is essential! Omar doesn’t wait: he already has his finger on the button and the moment is captured. Click.

He’s come here to the Piumogna waterfall in Faido with his wife, a friend and the children: this is an experience to be shared! The youngest is just a few months old and looks in amazement at the water that seems to fall from the sky in a triumph of splashes and droplets: who knows what he’s thinking…

The place is evocative, almost magical, and is perfect for a day out in the midst of nature with the whole family: quiet, immersed in greenery, easy to find, but also unique and surprising. Simply follow the signs in Faido and you’ll soon arrive at the car park and play area, almost beneath the falls! You can’t go wrong. 

The meadow is an ideal spot for a picnic and everything is ready in an instant: just a short distance from the cool water, Omar and his wife have already spread out a picnic blanket and set out the food, sitting down the children, one of whom is already grasping a juicy peach. It won’t last long.

The air is filled with the noise of the waterfall, the fragrance of the wood and birdsong, but history also makes itself felt here in the Leventina.

In fact, the waterfall has played an important role in the valley. The subject of strange legends until the 16th century, mills, trip hammers and a sawmill flourished around the river, then the canton’s first power plant was built just a short distance away from the Piumogna waterfall in 1889.

Faido was an important tourist destination at the time, immediately behind Lugano and Locarno. Situated on the Gotthard railway, it was popular with the Milanese middle classes and nobility, who wanted to enjoy city comforts here in the mountains: there was therefore a big demand for electricity.

In Faido there was even a cinema here in summer 1907. 

Faido was the first municipality in Ticino to introduce electric light.

What Omar tells us while holding a child in his arms in the play area is not a film, but reality. 

He loves this place and knows lots of little details that might escape a distracted eye.

“See those trees near the play area with those berries on them? They’re mulberries.” Ok, and so?

“They are left over from when silkworms were farmed here to produce the precious fabric!"

"The mulberry leaves were picked and fed to the little worms that produced the chrysalis of prized thread that was then transformed into silk in the Sottoceneri area and on Lake Como!”

Who would have thought it?! 

 

But Omar hasn’t finished yet: “Those trees down there, on the other hand, are walnuts… the walnut liquor made by the monks is delicious!”

Omar almost has more anecdotes to tell us than the exhibition in the trip hammer building or the educational path nearby! 

Pro tip
Silkworm production was the primary economic activity in Canton Ticino in the mid-19th century. There were around 2,000 mulberry trees in Faido, the silkworms were of good quality and people came from Como and Luino to buy them.
In the old sawmill a classroom has been set up to host school groups and groups and didactic exhibitions are organized.
Legend has it that a group of dwarves infested the Piumogna Valley, annoying the local people. However, in the 16th century St Charles got rid of them by drowning them beneath the falls and the people were able to live in peace once more.

The last one is linked to the Castelletto di Faido, a fortified building that has now been transformed into a multipurpose hall with a small bar at the back, situated next to the play area.

“The Castelletto had two separate entrances for the different political factions, so they didn’t have to meet.”

It’s not a joking matter!

"Those trees down there, on the other hand, are walnuts… the walnut liquor made by the monks is delicious!"

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