Area of the Walk along the Lake and the Verzasca River
A Walk unlike others
Those members who participate regularly in the seasonal walks of our Club will have noticed that most of the time we come across interesting cultural and historic sites, with churches, chapels, old buildings, archaeological sites etc. And that leads often to long, more or less competent explanations by the organiser of the walk - some members might feel like there is too much talking and not enough walking.
Well, this time we are glad to offer you a walk with little talking. We managed to find a route where we will not see a single chapel or historic building. We will just do an easy walk on flat ground along the lake shore, then along the river Verzasca and finally through fields and inhabited areas back to our starting point. We will enjoy the winter sunshine, the view to the lake and the mountains, nature in general, and you will have plenty of time for chatting with each other, without being interrupted repeatedly by your guide. And of course at the end, as usual, we will enjoy a common lunch, this time in the new restaurant L'Approdo, right at the waterfront of port Mappo.
Lake Verbano / Lago Maggiore
A few words about this beautiful lake. It is the biggest pre-alpine lake South of the Alps, therefore called Maggiore. Thanks to the beauty of the lake and its surroundings, the whole region became a tourist destination. Therefore it is also a big economic factor – Just look at the large camping places on your left side during the first part of the walk. The lake was also a very important waterway for moving people and goods before modern roads and railways were built. At Mappo there is a building on the water front that used to be a Customs station for the goods coming from Italy and being transferred from ships to carts. Since antic times blocs cut out from mines in the surrounding mountains were shipped Southwards as construction material in many Italian cities, e.g. for the cathedral of Milan. The old navigation route from Locarno to Venice, through the lake, the river Ticino in Italy, channels and the river Po is currently being revitalised and promoted.
The water level of the lake represents the lowest corner of Switzerland: 193 m asl. The lake is 64 km long and has a surface of 212 km2, which is more than the area of canton Appenzell AI (173 km2) and almost as much as the area of canton Zug (239 km2). About 80 % of the lake belong to Italy, about 20% to Switzerland.
Scientists have found that the underwater topography looks like a valley in a V-shape, something like Verzasca valley. That means it has been carved out not by a glacier (U-shape like Maggia valley), but by a river. But there is something puzzling: The lake is very deep, 370 m at the deepest point, that is 177 m below sea level. How could a river flowing 177 m up into the sea ? One would expect the sea flowing down into the low valley. The explanation comes from the 4th dimension – time, history. The water level of the Mediterranean has changed several times in geological periods. During the various Ice Ages, when a huge amount of water was lying as ice on the continents, the sea level was much lower. There was even a period, about 6 million years ago, when the Mediterranean dried out completely because the Strait of Gibraltar was closed by geological movements and no water came in from the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Youth Sports Centre Tenero
Centro sportivo nazionale della gioventù di Tenero (CST)
This is one of only two national Sports Centres in Switzerland, the other one is located at Magglingen in the Bernese Jura. Actually it was first established after WW I as a Rehabilitation Centre for Swiss soldiers. Then in the 1950ies the Defence Ministry changed slowly its orientation. In 1963 the first sports courses were organised. In 1984 a first big building entirely dedicated to sports was built. In 2000 the famous architect Mario Botta designed two new big buildings in brown bricks. And ever since the infrastructure is constantly extended and improved. In the meantime the institution has become a very big machine. Just a few figures from 2014 to illustrate that:
1 003 courses were organised with almost 33 000 participants.
139 000 nights spent by guests
347 000 meals served
277 000 day visitors also used the infrastructure.
There is hardly a sport that cannot be practiced here. In the same year 2014 the German national football team also had its training camp here for the World Championship in Brazil. And what was the result ? They became World Champion. It seems they want to come again this year as a preparation for the European Championship in France.
Lunch at Restaurant L'Approdo
The Port and the restaurant are owned and run by the municipality of Minusio. The restaurant has been built and inaugurated only about two years ago.
Tony Walker (Anton Marti)