Monte Verità near Ascona
19 November 2023
Canton Tessin has long been (and still is) a haven for political refugees, artists and the avant-garde. Locarno, Lugano and Ascona were sought-after towns. Houses, islands and even hills and mountains got new destinations after 1848.
Alfredo Pioda (1848-1909), Franz Hartmann (1838-1912), and Countess Constance Wachtmeister (1838-1910) founded a theosophical institution on Monte Verità near Ascona in 1889. Later, the complex was used as an art centre, spa and sanatorium under new owners.
This region in liberal Switzerland attracted (Russian) anarchists and political refugees from and during the years leading up to the Russian Revolution in 1917 and World War I (1914-1918). In these years, Ascona was even the centre of European emigrants and avant-garde after Zurich (and Dada).
During this period, Ascona was a city of foreign and Swiss artists, intellectuals and cosmopolitans. For example, the first founders of the complex on Monte Verità emigrated in 1920 to Brazil.
A passionate art collector, Baron Eduard von der Heydt (1882-1964) bought the complex on Monte Verità in 1926. In the baron’s wake, Bauhaus architects also came to Ascona. Consequently, the current hotel was built in 1929 in the Bauhaus style. Several other buildings date from this period; others are from a more recent date, such as the Japanese tea house and garden and the wing near the hotel (1992).
1933-1945 saw the next wave of emigration, not only to Ascona but also from Ascona to America. In 1945, the surrender of the German army in Italy was even signed in Ascona, just as 20 years earlier, Ascona was also indirectly involved in the conclusion of the Treaty of Locarno.
The Canton of Tessin took over the complex (which includes today the hotel-restaurant, Casa Marta, Casa Anatta, Casa dei Russi, the Japanese tea garden, Casa Giovanna, Casa Gioia, Villa Semiramis, Casa Selma and Casa Monescia) in 1964 and has managed it ever since as a museum, cultural, congress and seminar centre, hotel and restaurant with a beautiful view of Lake Maggiore.
(Source and further information: Fondazione Monte Verità)
The Japanse Tea Garden and the Casa del tè