Mendrisiotto and its environs
Grotto Bundi's culinary specialities make the most of Mendrisiotto's aromas and flavours. Spending a few peaceful hours in the restaurant, either for lunch or dinner, also offers the chance to visit an area with an authentic soul where unspoilt nature invites one to relax and explore either on foot or by bicycle.
Mendrisiotto is a small corner of paradise surrounded by hills covered in vineyards, mountains, national parks and breathtaking gorges. A visit to the summit of Monte Generoso on the evocative rack railway is an opportunity to survey and embrace these natural wonders.
Adventuring up Monte San Giorgio is another exceptional experience and an opportunity to discover archaeological finds which are unparallelled in the world. Cultural, musical, film and theatrical exhibitions are organised year round in both Chiasso and Mendrisio. In their museums small art treasures, both modern and contemporary, are waiting to be discovered. Alternatively
a visit to the theme park, Swissminiatur, is an occasion to spend some amusing and interesting time: here one can visit the whole of Switzerland in just one day and admire the most beautiful attractions of the country.
For those wanting to do some shopping then the FoxTown factory outlet in Mendrisio is a must where huge discounts are available daily in this paradise of luxury and elegance.
Mendrisiotto and its surprises await you and from Grotto Bundi you can visit them all!
Monte San Giorgio, welcome to the Stone Age
A visit to Monte San Giorgio is a veritable leap into the past. One of the most important deposits of marine fossils from the Middle Triassic period, dating back to more than 200 million years ago, is safeguarded here. The fossils from this mountain, renowned for their outstanding varieties and for their extraordinary state of conservation, were brought to light and analysed from 1850 onwards. To date more than 20,000 artefacts have been extracted of which there are 25 species of reptiles, 50 species of fish, more than 100 species of invertebrates as well as various plant species, and in particular conifers.
Palaeontological interest in Monte San Giorgio is unparallelled worldwide. Deposits of this type are generally present in a single fossiliferous layer dating back to a precise geologica era; Monte San Giorgio has at least five layers, each of which may contain more than one fossil association. This makes it possibe to study the evolution of particular groups of organisms over a period of many millions of years.
The site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 confirming it's historical and geological importance.
Monte Generoso, face to face with nature
It is impossible to put into words the breathtaking panorama to be seen from the top of Monte Generoso. Having reached the summit at 1704m, one of the most spectacular views in the whole of Switzerland is laid out below. Wherever one looks glimpses of rare beauty can be seen one after another, from the Appenines to the Alps and to the lake district of nearby Italy. Thanks to the descriptive notice boards at the Belvedere each valley, lake, river, town or mountain peak can be instantly recognised.
Sunsets and sunrises provide spectacular vistas with the sun transforming the sky and the land below into an ocean of colour.
More recently a Nature Observatory was instituted on Monte Generoso with educational pathways and walks in the company of experts who instruct on the local flora and fauna which populates this enchanting landscape. The limestone substrate favoured the development of more than 800 species of plantlife some of which are considered to be rare.
Last but not least should be mentioned the work of the Astronomical Observatory which houses the most powerful and avant garde telescope in Switzerland.
Museo Vincenzo Vela Ligornetto, a consumate opus
Italian and Swiss 19th century art and history are interwoven in this museum which houses a collection of the most splendid portraits of the Risorgimento's protagonists. Created by the great realist and sculptor, Vincenzo Vela (1820-91) from the Ticino area, the villa is one of the most important artists' house museums at international level. It was originally conceived with the triple functions of a residence, an atelier to display the artist's work and a private museum to house the original plaster casts of his work.
Next to the monumental plaster cast collection the museum also houses the bequests of the sculptor Lorenzo Vela (1812-97) and the artist Spartaco Vela (1854-95), comprising an outstanding collection of 19th century Lombardy and Piedmont paintings, hundreds of autographed drawings as well as one of Switzerland's oldest private photographic collections.
The villa has been altered many times particularly in the second decade of the 19th century. The most recent renovation, by the architect Mario Botta, has trasformed the villa into a modern museum by devising innovative metal supports and using shiny stucco so as to better display Vincenzo Vela's monumental works. Botta's revisitation at the villa also instigated changes to the surrounding gardens and park returning them to their original layout and with the formal Italian garden now visible from the town of Ligornetto. Careful attention was paid to saving plant species which were once present in 19th century gardens.
Pinacoteca Giovanni Züst, masterpieces on display
The heart of this art gallery is an extensive collection of paintings by artists who were active in the Ticino area from the 17th to 19th centuries. Amongst these around a hundred paintings stand out as well as more than 250 drawings by Antonio Rinaldi (1816-1875), an artist from Tremona close to Rancate. This is artistic treasure and was donated in 1966 to the Canton Ticino State by the art collector Giovanni Züst.
The 19th century is strongly represented in the Pinacoteca which, alongside Rinaldi, displays paintings by important artists of the Ticino area who all attended the Accademia di Brera in Milan: Luigi Rossi, Adolfo Feragutti Visconti, Ernesto Fontana, Bernardino Pasta.
From an earlier period are the three paintings by Giovanni Serodine (1594/1600-1630) of which 'San Pietro in Prison' stands out and which is considered to be the most valuable in the collection. There are also a number of paintings to admire by Giuseppe Antonio Petrini from Carona, one of the protagonists of 18th century Lombardy artists.
As well as its permanent collection, the Pinacoteca Züst organises temporary exhibitions twice a year, curated by renowned art historians and dedicated to works by both Ticino and Lombardy artists from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
Swissminiatur, Switzerland at your finger tip
For those wanting to take a tour around Switzerland in a day, then a visit to Swissminiatur at Melide is a must.
This miniature open-air park was inaugurated in 1959 and covers an area of 14,0002m and contains more than 120 models, all to a scale of 1:25cm, of Switzerland's most famous buildings and monuments. Each model was constructed in minute detail so as to make the visitor experience as realistic and fascinating as possible. A small work of engineering art is the 3,560m long railway in miniature which winds through the park: oause to watch 18 trains running along the lines, crossing over bridges and stopping at stations. At the same time ferries cut across the lakes, cable cars and funiculars ascend and descend the mountains and cars speed along the motorways.
Even the geographical location of the exhibition is worthy of note: Melide is situated on the banks of Lake Ceresio and is surrounded by mountains such as Monte Generoso, Monte San Salvatore and Monte San Giorgio which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
The entire park is a small botanic jewel with over 1,500 plants and more than 15,000 flowers.