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Millions of Years of History in the Breggia Gorge

Mendrisio - Corteglia - Castel San Pietro - Breggia Gorge - Balerna

Route Infos ▾ | Tour Ratings (1) ▾ | Tours in the Vicinity ▾ | Favourite Entries (3)

Mendrisio - Corteglia - Castel San Pietro - Breggia Gorge - Balerna

Published/updated on 23.04.2016 by GabrielleMerk | 27362 points
 | Date of Tour: 20.02.2016 | Favourite Entries (3) 

This tour to Switzerland’s first geopark and one of the most important geotopes in Switzerland starts with a walk through the vineyards of the Ticino, along the Wine Trail with the theme “Man and the Grapevine”. The stretch between... read more >>

This tour to Switzerland’s first geopark and one of the most important geotopes in Switzerland starts with a walk through the vineyards of the Ticino, along the Wine Trail with the theme “Man and the Grapevine”. The stretch between Mendrisio and Castel San Pietro is the area with the most vineyards in the Canton of Ticino. Allow for extra time to take detours through Mendrisio and Castel San Pietro.

Before heading into the Breggia Gorge at the eastern edge of Castel San Pietro, you can also take a short detour to the Chiesa Rossa (The Red Church), with its 14th century frescoes and red façade colouring, a dictate of the Bishop of Como for churches in the Ticino in the late 1500’s. The Red Church was also the site of a bloody family feud on Christmas Eve of 1390.

From the junction of the trails near the Red Church, our tour continues into the Gorge along the leftmost trail (not directly downwards) in order to reach the Gorge at the bridge over the River Breggia at the oldest part of the park. Thanks to the river's natural excavation process, rocks from geological periods across several hundreds of millions of years have been exposed. All along the trail through the park are information boards explaining the history and geology of the area (also in English).

At this point of the park, the top 100m of a 4km thick layer of the Earth's crust called Moltrasio Limestone is visible, dating back 190 million years. The diagonal rocks are divided by a fault, showing evidence of the movement of the Earth's crust. A few minutes further along the path is the site of a very old mill called the “Mulin da Canaa”. After reaching the picnic area in the center of the park, an old wood and steel bridge crosses the river again and the zigzag path takes you out of the gorge along the cliffs below the “Red Church” and past an old cement works (tours can be arranged).

Before heading to the train station in Balerna, a detour to the old Ghitello Mill offers some additional historical insights. The mill complex dates from 1600 and has been recently restored into perfect running order.

Published/updated on 23.04.2016 by GabrielleMerk (27362 points) | Date of Tour: 20.02.2016

Route Infos

Time Required
2 hours 30 minutes
8 km
255 m
314 m
Max. Altitude
450 m
Min. Altitude
267 m
Season Start / Season End
February - December
Level of Difficulty (Hiking)
Points of Interest
Chiesa Rossa near Castel San Pietro, Breggia Gorge, old cement plant, several old mills.
Starting Point
Mendrisio Train Station
Starting Point with Public Transport
Balerna Train Station
Return with Public Transport
Places to Eat
Mendrisio, Castel San Pietro, Balerna
Things to Note
To visit the Chiesa Rossa (which is locked) you must call the parish at the number 091 646 14 16

Are you interested in hiking the tour described above? Log in or register for free to get access to all the details for a successful hike.

  • Detailed map with traced route on SwissMobility map, including elevation profile
  • GPS file for download
  • Route description in text form
  • Printable tour description



Die "offizielle" Tour in den Naturpark Breggia fängt bei der Mühle Ghitello...

Rating: 5/6

Hiked on 20.02.2016 by GabrielleMerk

Die "offizielle" Tour in den Naturpark Breggia fängt bei der Mühle Ghitello an und endet auch dort (Rundwanderung), aber somit haben wir auch den Weg "Mann und die Rebe" gesehen

Publish your own Tour-Rating. Push the button on the right. >> >>


Tours in the Vicinity 

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Published/updated on 25.04.2017 by GabrielleMerk

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Published/updated on 10.05.2016 by GabrielleMerk

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