Today we headed back to Switzerland travelling along Lake Maggiore to the city of Bellinzona in the Italian speaking canton of Ticino. The weather was nice and the scenery was beautiful.
Bellinzona is known for its three castles. The castles are situated on a trade route and were of strategic importance. We visited Castelgrande with a local guide. The site first had a fortification as early as the 4th century but there is evidence of Neolithic occupation from 5500 to 5000 BCE. The current castle dates from the 13th century with additions in the 14th century and restorations in the 17th and 19th Century.
The second castle, Montebello was built in the 14th century and overlooks Castelgrande.
I was not able to get a photo of the third castle, Sasso Corbaro. The city is small but it is now linked to Zurich by high speed train which runs at 240 km/hr through the new 57 km long Gothard train tunnel shortening the journey to 90 minutes. Many people take advantage of this and maintain homes in sunny Bellinzona and commute to Zurich. I visited the church, Collegiata dei SSPietro et Stefano, and saw the town hall.
We continued on over very narrow and windy roads towards St. Moritz. We had to cross the Julier Pass built by Julius Caesar. All that remains of the original road at the top of the pass are two round pillars. There is also a strangely shaped building at the pass which is apparently used for theatre presentations in the summer season.