This stage will take you through enchanting natural landscapes and in full view of spectacular Lakes Lugano Maggiore, along the Italian Luinese and Veddasca valleys, and the valleys surrounding the Swiss cities of Locarno and Lugano. From Bellinzona or Lugano you can get to Miglieglia by bus, where you can take the cable car to the Monte Lema. Plan your return trip in advance unless you intend to spend the night in Indemini or Monteviasco.
The Miglieglia cable car will take you to the summit of Monte Lema, with its hut and restaurant. From there follow the track to Gradiccioli and Monte Tamaro. This part of the trail was awarded the so-called “Tramping Oscar” (‘Wanderoscar’ 2006/2007) as best trekking trail in Switzerland, and it is part of the celebrated Monte Lema –to- Monte Tamaro excursion route. By it you will reach Monteviasco through the enchanting hamlet of Indemini. The track will allow you an unimpeded panoramic view on Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore and attracts fun lovers such as mountain bikers and paragliding pilots. Further along the mountain slope you will find a hut where beverages can be purchased. Continue past Monte Gradiccioli to the Bassa Montoia but do not proceed towards Monte Tamaro. Take the trail’s left branch to the Sciaga pastures instead. You are now leaving the main track and entering the Swiss Gambarogno region on the “Mountains and Lakes” trail drawn by the Comunità Montana delle Valli del Luinese and by the Gambarogno Tourist Office through the Sciaga pastures. The Sciaga area is a vast pasture and farmland area with an interesting rural settlement. Houses are built following the terrain’s relief which gives the settlement is characteristic look. Along the trail you will find Indemini, a perfectly restored medieval hamlet. Although it has undergone extensive and continuous restoration work, Indemini is still true to its very ancient self and represent a model Alpine settlement, with buildings built with local materials, so that the village is architecturally consistent and relates harmoniously to the landscape. You can find accommodation in Indemini or proceed to the Val Veddasca (Italy), following the signs leading to Piero. Piero’s economy is based on goat farming, the traditional production of cheese and cured meats, and tourism. Further down in the valley, in the Giona flat, the ruins of ancient water mills can still be seen, that were in use in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Piero Mills, built in the local stone and wood were of strategic economic importance for the whole valley. At the Piero Bridge (Ponte di Piero), by the parking lot, you can take the cable car to get to Monteviasco effortlessly (check the timetables in advance) unless you prefer climbing the 1350 step-muletrack with a 375 m drop. Along the way you will pass by the Madonna di Lourdes chapel built in the late 19th century. After that you will see the Schuster Chapel and the ancient Cappella del Redentore. Dry walls and chestnut groves will be the backdrop for your walk to Monteviasco, preceded by the Sanctuary of Serta. After that enter the village and visit its labyrinthine maze of alleys, passageways, and small squares.
- E. Riva, M. Marcozzi, Monte Lema, dal Tamaro al Campo dei Fiori, mille chilometri di sentieri, Salvioni Edizioni, 2001.
- Tra Monti e Lago, sentiero montano, Interreg IIIA Italia – Svizzera, Comunità Montana delle Valli del Luinese, Ente Turistico del Gambarogno.
Environment, NATURA2000, Protected areas
The Val Veddasca is in the northernmost area of Varese province. It is a wild and secluded valley with many vestiges of a rural Alpne society. Human presence in the valley is very old, as was shown by archeological finds and prehistoric graffiti (Source: ilvaresotto.it). Furthermore the entire Val Veddasca is a Natura 2000 site (SIC IT2010016, Habitat map, Site description).
Wildlife, Emerald species
Insects and crustaceans: Cerambyx cerdo, Lucanus cervus, Euphidrias aurinia, Euplagia quadripunctaria, Astropotamobius pallipes
Fishes: Barbus plebejus, Cottus gobio, Leuciscus souffia, Rutilus pigus
Birds: Pernis apivorus, Milvus migrans, Circaetus gallicus, Circus cyaneus, Aquila chrysaetos,
Falco peregrinus, Tetrao tetrix, Alectoris graeca, Caprimulgus europaeus, Dryocopus martius, Anthus campestris, Lanius collurio, Emberiza hortulana, Bonasia bonasia
Bats: Myotis emarginatus
Other species of interest
Mammals: fox, badger, chamois, red deer, wild boar
Other information on the region’s wildlife
- Roland Hochstrasser, Geography of the Malcantone, nature and landscape study of the region
Protected aereas, Emerald and Natura 2000 sites
- Val Veddasca Natura 2000 site
- Priority conservation area of the WWF European Alpine Programme
WWF’s tips for hikers
Plan each stage carefully; purchase a 1:25000 map, use light but sturdy equipment (hiking boots, rain cape, binoculars…). Be sure to carry a small supply of water and food. We suggest you taste local food (possibly organic) at resting places and restaurants.
Do not litter, do not pick up flowers or rocks and in no way disturb the local fauna. It is unsafe for inexperienced hikers to leave the marked trails and it may cause disturbance to wildlife.
History and ethnography
- Monti Sciaga settlements
- Mills of Piero
- Houses in Indemini
- Houses in Monteviasco
- Serta Sanctuary in Monteviasco
Next stage: Emerald Trail Ticino-Varese Province: Stage 14
Stage before: Emerald Trail Ticino-Varese Province: Stage 12