Morcote. Photo/Foto: TES

Morcote, la perla del Ceresio

Lake Lugano (Lago di Lugano) in the canton of Tessin (Ticino) is named after Lugano, the most populous city but not the canton’s capital. Lago di Lugano is also called Ceresio. This name occurs in connection with the village of Morcote, called the “la perla del Ceresio”, one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland.

Swissminiatur, the open-air museum, and the Italian enclave Campione d’Italia are also along the lake.

The first mention of the village dates back to 926. Its name derives from morae caput, meaning the top or end of the rock. The dukes of Milan granted the village market and other rights and exempted it from tolls.

The Eidgenossen conquered Morcote in 1517 and governed it as an ‘Untertanengebiet’ (occupied territory) until 1798 and the establishment of the Helvetic Republic (1798-1803). Since 1803, Morcote has been part of the new canton of Tessin.

Santa Maria del Sasso. The conquest of Lugano

Until the dam construction at Melide in 1847, Morcote was an important port and trading centre for goods crossing the lake to and from Lombardy. The many patrician houses, the promenade, the castle on Monte Arbostora and many monuments recall this heyday.

The church of Santa Maria del Sasso was built in several phases. The Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque styles indicate the long construction period of three centuries until the 18th century. The church was an extension of the Romanesque oratory of Sant’Antonio Abate from 1300.

Maria del Sasso

Sant’Antonio Abate

The first extension of the church took place in the 1470s. The side chapel San Carlo was built in 1581. The Santissimo Sacramento followed t in 1591, and the apse, two sacristies and the main altar in 1750-1758.

The 15th- and 16th-century frescoes are highlights of the Lombard style. Before admiring these works of art, however, 404 steps must be climbed.

The church tower can be seen from afar and is one of Tessin’s typical towers with different styles and features. If you have had enough of stone, art and religious objects, you can take a short diversion to the exotic Scherrer Park with its breathtaking views of Lake Lugano and the mountain landscape or stroll along the lake promenade.

(Source and further information: Morcote, la perla del Ceresio)