Giubiasco / Camorino, 20.04.2016
There has been a human settlement in the area of Giubiasco for at least 3000 years. Already the name in –asco indicates a very old pre-roman origin: It means "close to a flowing water" (cf. Bignasco, Cugnasco, Biasca, Verzasca). In this case it refers to the river Morobbia, flowing down from the Morobbia valley. The place was very favourable: Located along the important and very old North-South route through the Alps on a large almost flat area, high enough not to be affected by the swamps and floods of the river Ticino, but not on the mountain slopes either.
We don't know where exactly this settlement of the Bronze Age and Iron age was, but the archaeologists have found the place of burial. At the beginning of last century (1901-05) a big necropolis was found and excavated, on an area of 9000 m2, containing 565 graves from the 12th century B.C to the 2nd century A.D. More excavations were carried out in the 50ies and 60ies of last century. The necropolis is located in an industrial area, a few hundred m NE of the railway station, between the railway and Viale 1814. A 100 years ago this was a purely agricultural area, now it is completely urbanised. Nothing remains visible from the necropolis. But before covering again the excavation site, everything has been documented and the majority of the grave goods found there are now kept in the National Museum in Zürich, all in all 2250 objects. Some other objects are part of different public and private collections. This necropolis is one of the most important Swiss archaeological sites South of the Alps. It is also very rare that a prehistoric burial place has been used for such a long period, more than 1000 years.
A similar prehistoric cemetery with 300 graves has been excavated on the other side of the plain in Gudo (V. Winter Walk 2015).
In 2013 another, smaller necropolis was excavated about 700 m further East, not far from the centre, in the area called Palasio, right at the limit between the plain and the mountain. Thanks to the construction of a new apartment block 30 graves were discovered dating from the 4th to the 2nd century B.C. During that period the Ticino was inhabited by the Celtic tribe of the Leponti who played a crucial role as cultural and commercial intermediary between the Mediterranean world and the world of the Celtic peoples. Thanks to these exchanges with other communities the Leponti reached a rather high cultural and material level. This is also proven by a variety of precious and beautiful grave goods found in those graves. They were on display in an exhibition in the town hall from December 2015 until March 2016. They can now be seen in the Cantonal Library Bellinzona until 14th May 2016.
Bronze Flagon ("Schnabelkanne")
The most beautiful piece of grave goods found in 2013 during the archaeological excavations in Giubiasco-Palasio.
This type of jug with a long mouth was originally created and produced by the Etruscans in Central Italy. Celtic populations further North imported it from there and at a later stage produced it themselves in different variations.
Parish Church S. Maria Assunta
Located in a dominant position overlooking the Piazza Grande of Giubiasco, the church has very old origins. It is documented in 929 A.D. as property of an Abbey in Pavia. The actual building dates back to the 12th century, but was remodelled and expanded in the 15th and 17th centuries. On the front side we still see the lines indicating the profile of the older churches.
On the left side of the main entrance a big fresco of S. Christopher from the 15th century is not well preserved. The portal in marble with twisted columns belongs to the old medieval building. The elegant carved wooden door is from 1777..
The interior consists of one nave with three vaulted bays. There are some valuable frescos from the 15th and 16th centuries, ex. a large Last Supper on the left wall, where Christ and the Apostles are seated on elegant church stalls. The beautiful new organ was built in 2008 by a family of organ builders in Northern Italy.
Church S. Bartolomeo
This Romanesque church was erected on a rocky outcrop at the entrance of what was once the way to the Morobbia Valley. It appears first in a document from 1218 and consisted only in a small rectangular hall and a tower. In the 18th century a tall choir in baroque style has been added.
The church is on the territory of Camorino, but belongs to the parish of Giubiasco. It is no longer in use and therefore not freely accessible.
Fortini della Fame (Hunger Forts)
|Ai Scarsitt||Ai Munt||A la Pélera||Al Sass del Camósc||Al Pian di Bur|
These 5 cylindrical towers on the mountain slope above Camorino are an interesting historic testimony from the middle of the 19th century, which was a difficult and troubled period for Ticino. In Switzerland the modern State was established with the Constitution of 1848. In the neighbouring countries, the reactionary and monarchic powers were able to repress the revolutionary republican movements. So Switzerland was a liberal Republic surrounded by ant-liberal monarchies. The most dangerous neighbour was the Austrian Habsburg Empire. Lombardy and the Venetian kingdom were then ruled by the Empire.
When Italians started campaigning for their liberation from the Austrian domination, mainly in Milano and the whole Lombardy, thousands of Italian political refugees and revolution-aries found refuge in Ticino. The people and the liberal government of the canton welcomed them with sympathy. And of course the Austrian authorities were not amused. Already in 1948 they imposed a short economic blockade against Switzerland and threatened with military intervention. The situation escalated in 1853 when activists in Ticino organised a uprising in Milan and when the Ticinese government expelled 22 Lombard Capuchin monks, accusing them to be Austrian agents. As a reprisal the Austrian authorities closed the border, imposed an economic blockade on Switzerland and expelled 6000 Ticinesi who had been working and doing business in Lombardy. The expulsion order was signed by Marshall Radetzky. A copy of the document is on display in the 1st tower of the Fortini.
That was an absolute disaster for Ticino. For the supply of cereals the canton was depending on Lombardy (the Magadino and Vedeggio planes were not yet drained). For jobs the population was also depending on Lombardy. Now 6000 unemployed came back. And as if that was not enough, a potato disease was raging for some years already. Many people were facing poverty and even starvation.
In this desolate situation the cantonal and federal governments took practical measures to help the poor people of Ticino. The canton employed many workers for new public works of infrastructure. The Swiss government employed 500 workers to build a military defence line south of Bellinzona, stretching from Camorino to Sementina. That saved many families from hunger and that's why the defence towers were called Fortini della Fame. Since the plane was still a marshland and therefore a natural barrier against advancing troops, the main focus of the project was on both sides of the plane were old connecting routes existed. This was a project designed already in 1847-48 by general Henry Dufour, co-founder of the Red Cross (in 1863) and commander of the federal troops during a short civil war between the conservative catholic cantons and the liberal protestant cantons in November 1947. These were the last warlike events on Swiss territory. They cost only 150 lives, mainly thanks to the moderate and conciliatory attitude of general Dufour. The defence line Camorino – Sementina never had to pass a military test: the conflict with Austria was finally settled diplomatically. And anyway the Italians were able to liberate themselves and to unite. In 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed.
Tower Nr. 1 « Ai Scarsitt »
Named after the patrician family Scarsetti. Newly restored, used for exhibitions and events.
Hydro-electric Plant Morobbia
Reaching the highest point of the Walk we unex-pectedly come across two big works of infrastructure: a large pipeline, 940 m long, and the remaining rails of a small cargo railway. The pipeline is the last section of an artificial water course, 5 km of which are flowing through a tunnel in the mountain. It lets the water down to the power station in Giubiasco, on the right bank of the river Morobbia. It started functioning in 1903. 15 years later a big accumulation tank was built about 150 m above from where we stand. All the construction materials for the tank were transported up by this little railway, partially preserved as a monument
In 1972 the power plant was upgraded with the construction of a dike half way up the valley, below the village of Carmena, the drilling of another 3 km of tunnel and the installation of new, more powerful turbines. The wall of the artificial lake is 39 m high and 99 m long. All this was a project of the engineering studio Lombardi in Minusio, who designed also the Verzasca dike and the S. Gottardo motorway tunnel. Now it is possible to follow the whole way of the water on a marked touristic trekking trail (Via dell' Acqua).with information boards, starting from Carmena and ending at the power plant in
Lunch at Restaurant Centrale
It is a traditional and popular reataurant-pizzeria located on a nice and quiet street in the centre of Giubiasco (via Borghetto 18). Weather allowing even big groups can be seated outdoors in the back yard, under large pergola. The service is friendly and the food is good and not expensive. Our two course menu cost 18 Fr.
Tony Walker (Anton Marti)