Story: A bench on the lake

Seated in the sky

Walk over millions of years of history on Monte San Giorgio

Martina really earned a sit on that bench! She certainly felt the effects of climbing up Monte San Giorgio, but she was rewarded by a breathtaking view... and a small refuge ready to offer some refreshments for a trifling payment. You can walk over millions of years of history in the Mendrisiotto area and then sit comfortably and admire the view.


Martina Zanetta, a student who looks into the distance

Martina Zanetta, a student who looks into the distance
Panorama is great and it’s a sought-after spot: a photo will make my friends jealous.

Martina likes travelling: other continents, other cultures, the Trans-Siberian railway of course, but it all started here in Ticino, where there are hidden corners and surprises to be discovered all over the place, sometimes where you wouldn't expect them.

Martina and her friend Martina are well aware of this. However, the morning they set out from home to visit the Mendrisiotto and climb Monte San Giorgio they didn’t expect to find an offline/analogue drink vendor at 1,000 m a.s.l.

What does that mean? No high tech, no buttons to press or codes to enter: the refuge on the UNESCO World Heritage Site mountain has a simple slot in the wall where you insert 3 francs in exchange for one of the drinks set out on the shelf below.

A sign of trust, but above all a lovely refreshing surprise that will bring an instant smile to the face of any hiker after climbing up through the beech and chestnut woods. “When I bring my friends here, I'll see the surprise on their faces,” thinks Martina.

The climb from Meride to the top of Monte San Giorgio along a cobbled path is quite tiring: it involves an ascent of around 500 metres and the last section – where the peak seems close by and watches you from above – is exposed to the sun, demanding a final effort.

However, after reaching the top, the breathtaking view is a wonderful reward for the two friends: the terrace overlooking Lake Lugano, Melide and Morcote and the stunning mountains is inestimably beautiful and the view seems to stretch out right before the comfortable bench. 

It’s a sought-after spot and Martina has to wait her turn for the panoramic pole position in order to enjoy the view and take a photo that will make her friends jealous. A selfie, a few photos, a restorative break and then the descent, because they’re starting to feel hungry and their tummies are rumbling.

Panorama from Monte San Giorgio

Nothing and no one will prevent the two hikers from enjoying a mouthwatering platter of sliced meats at the Alpe di Brusino grotto, washed down by a refreshing gazzosa (a fizzy drink).

An incredible panorama and a lot of History: When I bring my friends here, I'll see the surprise on their faces.

As we said, there are surprises and discoveries behind every corner and Martina&Martina come face to face with one of them: the age-old chestnut trees on the Alpe di Brusino.

There are some truly impressive specimens here that are almost intimidating if we think about what they must have seen and experienced.

There are around 300 monumental chestnut trees throughout the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, some of which measure more than 10 metres in circumference and are between 300 and 700 years old! Martina is truly shocked. She had no idea.

Pro tip
Land of artists: Meride was the birthplace of Renaissance and Baroque painters, sculptors and architects. Meanwhile, from Monte San Giorgio you can see Melide and Bissone, the home towns of Domenico and Carlo Fontana and Francesco Borromini.
Just a few steps to the west and you will be catapulted back into the First World War: starting from Meride, near the border, you can still see the fortifications along the Cadorna Line, built in 1915.
A hill occupied for more than 6,000 years. Meride is near the Tremona-Castello archaeological site, which dates back to Neolithic times. 3D glasses are available for a fully immersive experience.

It’s been an emotional outing and also a physically demanding one. Instead of walking down, they ‘fly’ on the oldest automated cable car in Switzerland, making their way over enchanting woods and admiring the view of Lake Lugano.

And once they’ve arrived in Brusino Arsizio, there’s another big temptation: shall we go out on a boat trip?

"A selfie, a break and then the descent, but their tummies are rumbling: it’s time for a mouthwatering platter of sliced meats and a refreshing gazzosa."