Gola di Lago (Tesserete), 04.06.2015
Chiesetta Maria Santissima Ausiliatrice a Luera
Gola di Lago
This is an interesting area, especially for those interested in nature. You notice that it is a soft mountain pass linking the Val Capriasca (Tesserete) to the South with the Val Isone (Medeglia, Isone) to the North. The pass is relatively large and flat and flanked on both sides by steep, rugged cliffs. That’s why it is called “Gola”, meaning a natural bottleneck, from Latin GULA, throat (cf. French gueule, German Kehle). Gola di Lago has obviously something to do with a lake, either the marshland which you see now was once a little lake, or – as a well-informed local man said – from here you could see Lake Lugano, when there were less trees and more grazing land here than now.
How come that there is such a swamp here almost on top of the pass ? To understand this we must go back to the end of the last Ice Age, 15 to 10 000 years ago. When the ice melted and the water was flowing down it carried with it a huge amount of rocks, stones, sand and clay. Here you had a trough, like a large bowl, in which clay accumulated and made the bottom waterproof. So the rain water was collected here in a pond, created a special biotope. All the dead plants and little animals sank to the ground and over thousands of years built a thick layer of peat and humus.
Nowadays swamps are protected because they are very important for bio-diversity. Here you find a lot of species of plants and animals that cannot survive anywhere else. Interestingly there is a big difference between low land swamps and mountain swamps. Down in the plain the swamps get a lot of minerals and other nutrients from the soil. There are very fertile and are called eutrophic. Mountain swamps get very few nutrients from the rain water and the dead organisms in and around them. They are called oligotrophic. Therefore flora and fauna are quite different in these two types of environment. In the plane you find bigger, stronger and more demanding plants, here instead we have smaller, modest, undemanding creatures. Some of them have been so clever to compensate for the lack of minerals in the water by eating insects, becoming carnivorous. Indeed here in Gola di Lago exist 4 species of carnivorous plants. Of course such swamps are also a paradise for insects and amphibians like frogs, toads, salamanders and newts.
This area is called Luera in the local dialect. It means “wolf zone”, from lupo (lüv in dialect). It is not clear whether centuries ago there was a wolf cave or a wolf trap or just a trail where wolfs used to pass. Since prehistoric times the wolf was an integral part of the European fauna, including in Switzerland. But in the 19th century the wolf was wiped out in CH and only now they are slowly coming back, also in various parts of Ticino.
This little church was built in 1931 by the architect Enrico Besomi from Tesserete. It was the wish of the families down in Cagiallo and Lugaggia to have a church service up here where many of them used to stay and work during the summer. The design is a pleasant combination of traditional style and some modern elements. The church is dedicated to St. Virgin Mary. Inside we would see a fresco from the 1st half of the 16th century, taken off from another church (St. Mary with child Jesus, St. Rocco and S. Gerolamo).
- Going up to Zalto (960 m): a little shrine to commemorate Emilio Rossi who died here on 30th April 1949.
- Before Zalto (1000 m): another little shrine dedicated to St. Nicolas from Flüe (15th century), the saint Patron of Switzerland. Built in 1991, to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the foundation of the Confederation of 3 cantons.
- After Zalto, reaching the road (1040 m): 50 m to our left, we stand exactly above the Alptransit project. Drilling down 800 m we would arrive in the Monte Ceneri base tunnel. It comes from direction Isone and goes to direction Sala Capriasca.
- Alpe di Zalto: Not far from here, another agriturismo. Originally included in this walk, but one part of the track would be too steep and slippery for many of us.
Military baracks Isone
Panoramic view from here: Medeglia, Isone, Mt. Bar, Mt. Camoghè etc. Outside the village of Isone there are important military barracks, very well known in Switzerland. There the grenadiers of the Swiss army are trained. They often train in the surrounding valleys and mountains, and during certain periods large areas are closed off for civilians. In the whole region you find also posters warning not to touch unexploded ammunition. And very commonly you come across small and big metal splinters from grenades and shells. I found one 10 days ago right on the walking track near Alpe di Zalto.
Monument Gruppo artiglieria di fortezza 9
A massive granite rock is now a monument for 2 soldiers who died here during WW II, on 13th November 1942: Enrico Salvadè (1918) and Valentino Ghirlanda (1921). The monument is an initiative of Fortress Artillery Group 9 in which I also did my military service in the 60ies and 70ies of last century.
Agriturismo Santa Maria di Gola di Lago
Property of the Patriziato di Camignolo. Run in the 2nd generation by Daniele and Caline Corti. They also sell some of their delicious own milk products. Here we have lunch.
Tony Walker (Anton Marti)