From alternative lifestyle venue to modern cultural centre
The Monte Verità has been known to exert a magnetic attraction: it's a spiritual and energy-imbued hill above Ascona that sits on the Insubric Line, part of the Periadriatic Seam that forms the division between the continental plates of Africa and Europe. The German writer Ise Gropius once described the hill as the place where the forehead touches the sky.
From 1900 the Monte Verità was inhabited by naturalists, philosophers, artists and unconventional thinkers, all following utopian ideals that can still be sensed today.
The early years of the Monte Verità
In the early part of the 20th century, the Monte Verità became a home for people seeking to shake off the shackles of society. The philosophy of this new alternative colony was to espouse a Spartan and (self-grown) vegetarian lifestyle, indulge in nudism and live close to nature.
Soon the environment created by Ida Hofmann and Henri Oedenkoven became a popular haven and attracted many high-profile personalities, among them the writers Hermann Hesse and Erich Maria Remarque.
When the "founding group" of balabiotts (local dialect for "nude dancers", as the locals called the residents) left the Monte Verità (Hill of Truth) for Brazil, the German banker and art collector Baron Eduard von der Heydt bought the hill and transformed it into a hotel resort for illustrious guests from the worlds of art and politics.
He bequeathed his property to Canton Ticino in the 1950s, and at the end of 1980 it became a seminar centre in collaboration with The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). Today the Monte Verità is a modern conference and cultural hub with literary events, an open-air theatre, a tea plantation and a museum.
Built in 1902, the Casa Anatta housing the permanent exhibition of Harald Szeemann, "MONTE VERITÀ. Le mammelle della verità". The exhibition depicts the history of the hill and its inhabitants. Casa Selma, the air-and-light hut that was inhabited and used. The wooden pavilion, named " Elisarion" (Clear world of the blessed) after a painting by Elisar von Kupffer exhibited on the Monte Verità.
Only tea plantation in Europe
Asia is not the only place where green tea is cultivated and harvested: here in Ascona, the former pharmacist and tea philosopher, Peter Oppliger, initiated the experiment and planted Camellia sinensis in the unique microclimate of Monte Verità. The first harvest came in 2005, resulting in a small quantity of green tea.
The Casa del Tè teahouse offers an insight into the world of tea: countless blends of best quality product can be tasted and purchased. In addition, a traditional ritual tea ceremony hosted by a master of tea takes place twice a month. A place for relaxing and recharging your batteries over a good brew and homemade pastry.
Share the secrets of the Monte Verità
Now that you know the history of the legendary hill, how about visiting it yourself to discover its secrets, take part in a tea ceremony or simply sit and enjoy the views? On your own or with the Monte Verità Mediaguide, the app with which you will discover even the furthest corner.
Share your moment of peace with us via social media using the hashtag #myasconalocarno and let us know what you liked most about this characterful place.