Bellinzona and Sumvitg


Castelgrande City Wall
Castelgrande City Wall

Last Sunday, Austin and I took a small trip to a town close by in Switzerland called Bellinzona. The town was mostly closed on Sunday, but there were still a few things to do. The are three castles in Bellinzona, of which we only went to two. First we went to Castelgrande. This old fortress has a renovated entrance, a key-hole shaped gateway to the inside of the bottom of the great hill which it stood on. The elevator lobby was pretty nice as well with its curving walls and straicases. At the top, we were immediately surrounded by tall stone walls, breaking for a view every so often. It was alao very windy, we could even see stuff blowing around in the air. The grounds were beautiful, the green hills and walls towering over the city. The wall was very long, extending down and into the town. Back at the castle, a large portion of the interior was renovated into a museum. It was pretty small and somewhat interesting, discussing the history of the castle and of Bellinzona. When we were done, we went back down by taking the tunnel inside the wall. It was dark and cold inside, but it was neat to be walking inside an old castle wall!

Although the town was mostly deserted, Austin and I stumbled upon a wine festival going on in one of the plazas. There were around thirty tents selling wines, cheeses and dried meats, as well as local artists, craftsmen and antique collectors. It was pretty neat seeing the culture of the town collected in just a couple streets. We ate lunch there before heading to the second castle.

Castello di Montebello was the second castle that we visited, smaller, but sitting higher than the previous one, we had to hike up the mountain a little bit before we got there. It was also even windier up there, literally enough to blow me over! This castle had a few wonderfully framed views and more green hills inside than Castelgrande. We walked around for a while, taking in the nice views. Exhausted from the wind and walking all day, Austin and I decided to head back to Riva to rest and get some work done. I enjoyed Bellinzona but it would have been nice to be there on a day where more things are open!

On Tuesday morning my studio group went on one of our last journeys. Two hours high into the alps lies a small tear-drop shape chapel by Peter Zumthor in a town called Sumvitg, Switzerland. This beautiful gem is clad in rustic wooden shingles, sunbathed on the south side, while rather pale on the north facing side. It is crowned with a ribbon of glass to let light in through the top, while also casting light onto the vein-like leaf shape of the ceiling. The floor is recessed from the walls, which make it feel somewhat like a stage. Most of the exposed material is wood, with some details in metal. It was a beautiful church with a wonderful site, perfectly cradled by the surrounding mountains.

On the way home, my car decided to make a few pit stops on Lukmanier Pass to take some final pictures of this fantastic country we have called home since January. We stopped at a dam and a Church, an a couple other random places. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to go out in the cars and soak in the gorgeous views of the Swiss Alps!

This week has been crazy as it was our last week of classes. We had to wrap up our studio projects as well as collect sketches, photographs, etc from the semester. We finished our studio project today and will present them tomorrow at noon. Monday is my last day here in Riva and we will be going to another Botta church and on a small hike with all the students here at the Villa, so check back in for that sometime next week! Austin and I also leave for Iceland on Tuesday morning where we will spend three days adventuring around the snowy country by car.

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