I was driving solo from Italy to Switzerland when I caught a big road sign that read, “Castelgrande: Unesco World Heritage Site, Next Exit.” I wasn’t really in a major rush, so I decided to exit and explore.
Castlegrande is nestled in a small town in Switzerland close to its border with Italy and just an hour or so from Milan, depending on traffic. I have to say that even though I had never heard of the place, it is quite beautiful.
It boasts of three castles: Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro, all of which have been UNESCO World Heritage sites since the turn of the millennium.
The town lies east of the Ticino river, and offers the Swiss Alps as a backdrop to boot. Surrounded by the southern ranges of the Lepontine Alps to the east and west, and by the Lugano Pre-Alps to the south, it’s 360 degrees of post card beauty. The views from the castle overlooking the city are amazing, and you can explore the complete castle and the cost of admission? Free. There’s even an elevator to take you up, or you can also hike your way up at your own pace.
I stumbled upon this town quite by accident, and this was one of the highlights of my European tour to see a castle and stroll the surrounding grounds. Needless to say, my short excursion became a full-day activity as I made my way through this charming little gem. Although I visited in the winter, I’ve been told it’s just as scenic during the summer months, when locals wade into the into the river that runs across the town for a refreshing swim.
Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each week.
Last modified: July 11, 2017