The Riviera del Gambarogno is a world of its own. On the left side of the Lago Maggiore nature unveils a wealth of treasure: just look at the glistening lake, the Lago Maggiore, the soft hills, and enjoy the sight of the most fascinating mountains.
The eastern shore of Lake Maggiore boasts the typical charm of towns that look right out over the lake: villages full of colourful houses, cobbled streets, flowerbeds, a road that runs along the lake shore all the way to Italy and the blessing of the sun. Nestled between lake and mountains, scattered with villages suspended between sky and water, and with two hundred kilometres of trails through chestnut forests, lush meadows and captivating alpine pastures.
The Gambarogno Riviera, along the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore, is famous for its sun-kissed summers, lovely villages, the beauty of the lake and the floral abundance of the Gambarogno Botanical Gardens, home to the richest collection of magnolias in the world. But Gambarogno extends far beyond the lake shore: from Contone to the foot of Monte Ceneri, as far as Dirinella, on the Italian border, also including part of the Magadino plain, as well as the Bolle di Magadino.
Thanks to its mild climate, with average annual temperatures of 15°C, Gambarogno offers a fertile home to plants such as camellias and magnolias. The Gambarogno Botanical Gardens, perched on a hillside between Piazzogna and Vairano, benefit greatly from the climate and can boast a collection of some 450 varieties of magnolia. These have been grown personally over time by Otto Eisenhut, founder of the Botanical Gardens, who, in 1955, purchased a plot of land bordered by two small streams on which to grow silver and North American pines to be sold as Christmas trees. He decided to turn it into a nursery about ten years later and began experimenting with grafts before eventually shipping his seedlings all over the world. The gardens are now also home to 950 varieties of camellia, 400 azaleas and rhododendrons, as well as many other plants. While Eisenhut’s gardens aim to provide the rarest plant species with continuity, the Bolle di Magadino are known as a home for flora and fauna typical of transition zones between land and water. A Ramsar wetland site and protected area, they are one of nine Swiss floodplain landscapes considered of national importance. They can be visited thanks to a dense network of educational trails. They also welcome more than 300 species of birds and are an important stop for migrating birds.
The summit of Monte Gambarogno, which gives its name to the region, at an altitude of 1,734 m, offers unique views of Ascona, Locarno, the Maggia Delta and the entire Lake Maggiore region. With its never-ending chestnut forests and villages on the lake shore, Gambarogno is particularly popular for hiking and biking, both in the mountains and at a lower altitude, but also for the beauty of its shore, which will tempt you to go for a swim or try new water sports.
From the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore to the summits of the mountains. The shores of Gambarogno are particularly popular for their secluded beaches and lidos in the towns along the riviera, which look out over a stunning lake on which you can try your hand at countless water sports. The village of Vira Gambarogno, with its church of San Pietro overlooking the lake and typical centre of tightly packed houses, narrow alleyways and arcades, is considered the historical centre of Gambarogno. From here, a road leads straight into a wild landscape of never-ending chestnut forests towards mountain villages, and finally the most remote village of all, on the border with Italy: Indemini, with a peaceful and harmonious feel, is a tiny grey gneiss village with stone roofs and romantic wooden pergolas. The historical and cultural wealth of Gambarogno comes in many guises: tradition, hiking and even centres of energy. Centocampi, on the Monti di Caviano, for example, is home to the last stable with a thatched roof in the whole of Ticino. At Vairano, near Sass da Grüm – a place of power home to a hotel focused on wellness and sustainability – there is a Sentiero dello Yoga, a trail surrounded by a stunning forest where you can practise yoga while in deep conversation with nature. Alpe di Neggia, which can be reached easily by bus or car, sees the start of a captivating mountain trail through a landscape dotted with Alpine roses right up to the summit of Monte Gambarogno, which will treat you to truly breath-taking views.