All Posts from April, 2016

UNESCO Universal Heritage – culture and history in the region of Parco San Marco

April 30th, 2016 | By Wendy Koppen in Activities, Parco San Marco, Surroundings, To know more about | No Comments »

Did you know that already around the San Marco Park there are as many as three UNESCO World Heritage sites? No? Read our blog with a brief presentation, and do not forget to visit them on your next holiday on Lake Lugano.


Monte San Giorgio is 1,097 meters high and is located on the southern shore of Lake Lugano. The whole area is of fundamental importance for its geological treasures and the presence of a high number of fossils. The reason for so much wealth is due to the tropical lagoon that was present


during the Triassic period which contained a rich coral reef. As well as the large number of fossils from marine organisms, there are also a considerable amount of land fossils due to its proximity to the mainland. Studying the finds of Monte San Giorgio, the experts were able to trace the story of six fossil-bearing formations which cover a time span of approximately 15 million years. The most important fossils found include the Ticinosuchus (meaning “Ticino river crocodile”), one of only a handful of reptile fossils that have been found in Switzerland, and the complete skeleton of a Ceresiosaurus (meaning “Lizard of Ceresio” – Ceresio is the Italian name for the Lake Lugano). You can see these beautiful specimens at the Fossil Museum in Meride, recently renovated by the Swiss architect Mario Botta.

The museum is open every day except Monday, from 09:00 to 17:00.

  • The castles of Bellinzona (about 43 kilometers from Parco San Marco)

The three fortifications called “Castelgrande”, “Montebello” and “Sasso Corbaro” are still in excellent condition and are the best examples of medieval architecture throughout the entire Alps. The impressive rocky outcrop of Castelgrande forms the natural center of of the fortifications which together make up Bellinzona’s barrage. Today’s appearance is the result of recent restoration (1984-1991), directed by the architect Aurelio Galfetti, which paid respect to the architectural character acquired by the castle over the centuries including the White Tower (1250-1350), 27 meters high, and the elegant Dark Tower (1310), 28 meters high. Written sources dating from the 11th––15th centuries and archaeological evidence suggest that, at the height of the Middle Ages, Castelgrande was divided up into several plots and must have contained a much greater number of buildings than we can imagine today.

From this castle, the view is beautiful. It can be reached by climbing a choice of steep paths from the Collegiate Square or from Nosetto square, or via a comfortable road leaving from via Orico. From the Piazzetta Della Valle you can also go up to the castle with the convenient lift which carries you from the foot of the rock directly up into the castle grounds. The Bellinzona castles have been part of UNESCO since 2000.


  • The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio and the Madonna del Soccorso (about 23 kilometers from Parco San Marco)

The mountain is located near the western shore of Lake Como in the village of Ossuccio and is part of the group of “Sacred Mountains”.


Throughout Italy there are a series of nine calvaries or groups of chapels and other architectural features called “Sacred Mountains” which have been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 2003. These are primarily sacred places of worship that were built throughout the country between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the mountains and near the lakes, such as can be found in Ossuccio. The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio, in addition to its religious importance, is surprising for the scenic beauty that surrounds it and the cultural treasures which are housed inside in the form of frescoes and sculptures. One example is its fourteen chapels decorated with marble and baroque stucco of the Madonna del Soccorso. Starting from the village of Lenno, on Lake Como, you can reach the Sacro Monte and the Madonna del Soccorso by foot.


Nordic Walking

April 18th, 2016 | By Deborah Giorno in Activities, Parco San Marco, Surroundings | No Comments »

Nordic Walking is an endurance sport which combines fast-paced walking, with the aid of two poles in a rhythm matched to the walking pace. This concept has been around since the 1950s when it was adopted as a training method by cross-country skiers for summer training. In 1997, the first commercial walking poles were manufactured and launched on the market by Finnish company Exel. The term “Nordic Walking” was established in 1999 and, as a result of international advertising campaigns, became widely adopted.

Nordic walkingThe use of aluminium, carbon or graphite poles turns a normal walk into a complete workout for the whole upper body as well. Nordic Walking is also perfectly suited to all ages, abilities and levels of fitness as well as professional sportsmen and women.

Whilst walking poles were perhaps ridiculed slightly in some quarters, the sweeping action boosts cardiovascular and metabolic activity, strengthens muscles and bones and helps reduce excess weight. A good back-and-forth swinging action will strengthen the arms, shoulders and back. Nordic Walking is a really effective yet not over-strenuous outdoor sport with a low risk of injury.
As an endurance sport, it can do a great deal of good but only with the correct technique;
Nordic Walking expert Dr Petra Mommert-Jauch’s advice: “Do not fully extend the knee when placing your foot and do not put too much pressure / stress on the heel”.

The benefits of Nordic Walking for the body:

Keen Nordic Walkers can significantly reduce the risk for a number of complaints of old age through practicing this effective sport, for example osteoporosis and heart-related problems including high blood pressure and diabetes. Nordic Walking can also help with weight loss. “At a steadyspina pace of 6 kilometres per hour, you can burn around 400 calories” adds Mommert-Jauch.
A study carried out in Finland showed that Nordic Walking can also alleviate back pain stemming from a bad or incorrect posture.

Another reason to spend your holidays at the Parco San Marco: From June onwards, take the opportunity to rediscover this fashionable sport in the unique landscape surrounding Lake Lugano. You’ll feel the benefits of this great sport throughout your whole body!

Advanced walkers can find more information here about Nordic Walking and trekking trails in the surrounding area of the Parco San Marco.