Bellinzona is the capital of canton Ticino. It’s set in a valley of lush mountains, and stands at the southern side of two important Alpine passes, San Bernardino and St Gotthard. Bellinzona is a city of castles. Its grand trio of castles – Castelgrande (dates from around the 6th century and is the city’s largest castle), Montebello and Sasso Corbaro – were together declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Everyone passes through Bellinzona because it’s on the train route connecting Locarno and Lugano and on the Zurich-Milan route. But Post buses also head north-east through the Misox (Mesolcina valley) to Chur (Grison). Cabbiolo (just a 45-minute bus ride from Bellinzona) lies peacefully among the majestic mountains of the southern Alps and has a nice backpacker accommodation, with a waterfall for swimming in a great natural environment. Due to its central location, it is an ideal starting point for forays to the rugged mountainous north, as well as to the milder, culturally diversified south.
How to get there: Bellinzona has regular train connections from Italy (coming from Milan) and all over Switzerland, i.e. from Zurich and Lucerne (2 1/2) hours, from Bern (3 1/2 hours) and from Geneva (5 1/2 hours). From Bellinzona to Cabbiolo it’s just 45 minutes by bus.
Tourist information at Palazzo Civico in Bellinzona (091 825 21 31).
Budget accommodation: Humanità Backpacker’s in Cabbiolo/Lostallo (091 830 14 81)
for accommodation in Bellinzona check www.youthhostel.ch or ask at the tourist office).