Church S. Maria
The municipality of Gudo has about 850 inhabitants, its territory measures 10 km2, stretching from 200 m to 1900 m asl. It is divided in 3 parts: Agricultural land down in the plane is located on both sides of the river Ticino, the sunny slopes from the plane up to about 500 m are a mixture of residential areas and vineyards. Above that you have the mountainous area with woods, pastures and unproductive land.
Agriculture in the plane became only possible after the taming of the river Ticino and the draining of the swamps in the Magadino plane at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Only in 1907 an iron bridge was built over the river, and in the early 1930ies (1932-36), the canton established a model farm of more than 80 ha (55 ha productive land) on the left river bank. It is one of two State owned farms in Ticino, the other one being at Mezzana in the Sottoceneri. It is called Demanio (domain, State property). It includes also a small lake. Since 2009 their production is entirely biological.
On the hill there is also a model vineyard, run by the Swiss federal Centre for agronomic research in Cadenazzo, where new techniques and modalities of the local wine production are explored. During our walk we will see a board referring to that place. We will also come across the vineyard of Stefano Fuso which our Club visited in May 2012. During the last decades wine production in Gudo has increased and improved considerably. Of course the southern exposure of the vineyards is ideal. With its 31 ha Gudo is the Nr. 5 wine producer among the Ticinesi municipalities. Not by chance the coat of arms of Gudo displays a grill in between two bunches of grapes. The grill is an attribute to St. Lawrence, saint patron of the parish church. Some might remember the big painting showing S. Lawrence being burnt on the grill in the church of Lodano that we visited during our Winter Walk 2 years ago. Tourism also contributes to the local economy. There are camping places, a few pension houses, agriturismos and restaurants, not to forget a network of hiking tracks and huts in the mountains.
Just below Rest. Cottini (where we will have lunch) there is a big horse farm, annex to a large park with a big mansion from the 17th century. That is the Resinelli house, called “La Monda”. There you can also rent horses and take riding courses.
Today we are not going to visit any church. Nevertheless a few words about them.
The one next to the car park where we started. It is the parish church and was built in 1615, a typical nice church from the 17th century. It replaced a Romanesque church from the 11th and 12 centuries. Some 20 years ago excavations found even rests of a predecessor church from the 6th and 7th centuries.
S. Nazario e Celso
It stands on a hill between the village centre and Progero, surrounded by a stone wall and some old houses. It is documented since the 15th century, but was completely rebuilt in the 17th century. Contains some interesting artistic features.
Located in Progero, on a street going down direction river. A small church was already standing there in the early Middle Ages. It was modified and enlarged in the 12th century. Inside you can see frescos from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The site of the church S. Maria is also one of the most important archaeological sites in Ticino. At the beginning of last century, during works on the river banks, an extensive prehistoric burial ground was discovered. Now it is a Swiss heritage site of national interest. The oldest finds are pottery fragments from the early Bronze Age (17th – 16th cent. BC). The next layer contained grave pottery from the late Bronze Age (13th – 12th cent. BC). But most of the necropolis of 300 graves dates from the Iron Age (6th cent. BC). This layer belongs to the so called Golasecca culture, a pre-Roman culture of the late Bronze age and early iron age in Northern Italy and Ticino. The human settlement in Gudo lasted probably until the 2nd cent. BC. Most graves have one or more ceramic vessels of different types and various ornaments made of bronze and amber. The objects found on this site are now on display at the museum of Castelgrande in Bellinzona.
After the Golasecca culture Celtic groups that came across the Alps into Northern Italy settled around Gudo and continued to use this cemetery. Many precious grave goods have also been found from that period.
Tony Walker (Anton Marti)