Bellinzona, the capital of Ticino, is a delightful gem of a town. Of course, the same can be said of most places Swiss, but this one is special for its enchanting UNESCO castles, built within the town walls and cradled among lush mountains.
The three UNESCO castles and the city walls of Bellinzona were built in medieval times to block access to the Ticino valley to northern populations and control tolls and roads to S. Gotthard. After reconstruction over the centuries, recent restoration and improvements, the three castles – Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro – appear in all their splendour and are the main tourist attraction of the city. Each of the three castles has an old story to tell.
The town has historically been viewed from the south as the entrance to the Alps, while those coming down from the north considered it the “Gate to Italy.”
Assuming you’re spending a couple of days in Basel, this makes for a perfect day trip. From Bellinzona, you’ll take a train to Olten and an onward bus back to Basel.
Of course, travelling through this beautiful country on any mode of transport is pure sensory pleasure, but we particularly enjoyed the front seat ride aboard the bus, with fantastic open views of the mountains.