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San Pietro

San Pietro

Tour description

This itinerary is set in val di Blenio and consists of a short and easy walk in the area around Dongio revealing several interesting features of architectural interest. The starting point is the church of San Pietro at Motto di Dongio. Set in an isolated spot in the countryside the church it is easy to locate from a distance. After visiting this Romanesque monument take the path towards San Remigio di Corzoneso which winds along the river bank, at times passing over country roads. After about half an hour you come to the oratory of San Martino Viduale, where a monastery/
hospice is thought to have existed at one time; a further 10 minutes and you come to Boscero, a
part of Corzoneso, site of the Romanesque oratory of San Remigio. It has preserved frescoes from different eras (13thC to 15thC) as well as an interesting stucco altar. After another 5 minutes’ walk you cross the river and turn back towards Dongio. Many of Dangio’s inhabitants emigrated to France and England and some of them made their fortune abroad returning home to build themselves elegant houses which stand along the roadside and in the piazza. With the help of binoculars you can just make out the mysterious «houses of the pagans» on the mountainside. These were hollowed out of the rock around the year 1000, probably for defence purposes. However not even extensive archaeological research has revealed a satisfactory reason for these
constructions set in such inaccessible spots. The late baroque church in the village is dedicated
to saints Fiorenzo and Luca and was built by Giuseppe Stella from Milan to replace the former parish church which was destroyed by a landslide in 1758. There are also several private ‘grottoes’ in Dongio, that can be seen from the path that runs behind the village at the foot of
the mountain; these were used as natural cool cave cellars during the summer months. Follow
the sign for «sentiero basso» which starts from the Municipio. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the centre of Marogno, and a further 10 to reach the church of Santa Maria and finally San Pietro.


San Pietro
The little church of San Pietro at Motto di Dongio is located in the countryside in an isolated spot on the right bank of the river Brenno close to the bridge. It belongs to the parish of Dongio even though it is on land belonging to Ludiano. Set on the road to Lucomagno the church has a long history. At one time numerous pilgrims and merchants travelled this road, before 12thC when the San Gottardo became the shortest route over the Alps. It may well have been built to offer spiritual
comfort to travellers.
Another theory has it that it was built by powerful Lombard families who settled in the valley.
The site was secluded and protected by the natural barrier of the ‘ganna’ of Ludiano. It is
thought that the first place of worship dates back to the 6thC, maybe originally for pagan rites, before being transformed gradually into a Christian church. The present day 13thC Romanesque building was constructed on the site of the previous, demolished building.
Pictorial decorations were first added at the end of the 14thC. In 1581, the date inscribed on the
doorway, there were further important changes; the nave was lengthened, losing the original
façade, the side walls were raised and a new bell tower was added. The vestry was built a century later, after which the church suffered a period of neglect which may have been due to the
construction of new churches (including Santa Maria) in the area.
Several changes were made to the interior during the 19thC, then 20thC restoration works
sought to restore the church to its 16thC from, revealing frescoes from the different eras. These
frescoes illustrate the history of the church and the members of its community - the time a well
known artist was commissioned to decorate the church, the periods when local or itinerant
artists happened to be available, which parts of the church were repainted when necessary,
when new frescoes were added, when old ones were painted over.
San Pietro is set on a rise in the middle of fields and pastures; entrance is through the doorway
to the right of the ossuary. The most characteristic element of the exterior of the church is the
magnificent apse , decorated with a serrated frieze . A cemetery surrounds the church.
On the south wall are traces marking the height of the building in 14thC, a large fresco of saint
Christopher and a portrait of Christ in the lunette above the side door, all 14thC.
The interior is made up of a single nave with a semicircular apse and smooth walls, all entirely
frescoed. The pre-Romanesque altar is covered with an unusual frontal of pastel coloured fragments depicting a landscape by Solari (1732).
The well of the apse has preserved an example of the classic cycle present in Romanesque
churches, but not the original one; this one is probably 14thC. Christ surrounded by the
Evangelists in the mandorla ; a procession of apostles ( the third from the left has a well preserved
head repainted by Calgari in 19thC.
Lower down is a Renaissance style decoration; on the arch the figures of the Annunciation
have been painted and to the right saint Antonio Abbot.
The north wall displays several frescoes, the oldest from 1370 depicting a Crucifixion with Maria and Giovanni and two other saints (the two on the right belong to a series of three). This talented artist from the Lombard school was also responsible for the portraits of Christ and saint Christopher on the exterior .
There are another two paintings on the same wall, both from the following century - a Madonna and the first figure on the left in the triptych, both painted by the same itinerant artist. Above the enthroned Madonna and Child is a 19thC copy which may be the work of Calgari di Osco before the original was painted over. The two upper figures are saint Peter, painted by the artist responsible for the apse at the end of 15thC, and saint Lucia (16thC work by the same minor local artist who painted the frescoes on the south wall of which only fragments remain).
(key from Osteria Tre Vie, Motto-Dongio, Tel. +41 (0)91 871 19 25)

Oratory of S. Martino al Monastero
now dedicated to Santa Maria. Set in woods on the road to Lucomagno near some ruins which could be those of an old convent. Stopping place fro pilgrims. Good view to one of the «houses of the pagans».

Oratory of S. Remigio at Boscero (Corzoneso)
Romanesque building with 2 apses.Late Romanesque frescoes and a stucco altar.
(Key from signor Conceprio, Tel. +41 (0)91 871 17 27)

Centre of Dongio
19thC houses built with the fortunes made my emigrants to England and France.

Parish church of saints Fiorenzo and Luca, rebuilt in 18thC
(key from the parish, Tel. +41 (0)91 871 11 80).

Church of Santa Maria at Motto
richly decorated with Baroque frescoes and stucco depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin
(key from the parish, Tel. +41 (0)91 871 11 80)


Recommended period: april - oktober

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Places along the route: Motto di Dongio - San Pietro - Oratorio San Martino - Oratorio San Remigio - Dongio - Morogno - Motto di Dongio


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Tour history (B00889)

First published: Freitag, 12. Januar 2007

Last updated: Montag, 18. Mai 2015

Tour published by: Presented by www.bellinzonese-altoticino.ch

Tour characteristics

Distance: 5.9 km | Time requirement: 2½ h
Ascent: 94 m | Descent: 94 m
Highest point: 495 m.a.s.l.

Printing, information

See also

Bellinzonese e Alto Ticino
Sede Valle di Blenio
Zona Lavorceno
CH-6718 Olivone
T +41 (0)91 872 14 87
F +41 (0)91 872 15 12