On the trail of Ticino’s master architect

August 21, 2021, 6 Comments

I went up a mountain to go to church. No really, I did. Why? Because it’s a stunning piece of architecture in an even more stunning location. The mountain is Monte Tamaro, a peak sandwiched between Lakes Lugano and Maggiore. The church is Santa Maria degli Angeli, designed by Mario Botta, Ticino’s master architect.

The striking building, which was completed in 1996, sits about 400m below the summit of Monte Tamaro but still has wonderful panoramic views from the terrace. Of course, you can also hike up to the top or get adventurous with the zipline or coaster bob. I chose to enjoy a zen moment of tranquility with Mr Botta’s creation instead.

This wasn’t my first encounter with Botta on a mountain. He designed the cable car for Cardada Cimetta, which I wrote about in a previous article. I’ve also taken the train up to Monte Generoso and seen his remarkable Fiore di pietra (or ‘flower of stone’) building that is both a restaurant and a landmark.

Perhaps the most famous Botta building is the most remote one, tucked away in the tiny hamlet of Mogno north of Locarno. It’s another church (this one dedicated to St John the Baptist), and one that’s definitely worth the pilgrimage to see it – easy by car but possible by bus, although it takes most of a day to get there and back.

The original church was swept away by an avalanche in April 1986 and Botta was commissioned to design the new one. And what an amazing design it is. A small circular structure built from alternating layers of local white marble and grey granite, with no windows at all: the only light comes in through the glass roof.

This article is one of a series about Ticino. You can read about Lugano & Locarno, Cardada Cimetta, or SwissMiniatur, discover twelve fascinating facts about Ticino, and a review of Hotel LuganoDante.

6 Comments on "On the trail of Ticino’s master architect"

  1. Claire Saturday August 21st, 2021 at 08:51 AM · Reply

    I like the Fiore di pietra, it’s in stark contrast to the surroundings but is beautiful in its design reflecting nature – I wonder what it’s like inside 🤔

  2. Gary Newcomer Saturday August 21st, 2021 at 09:14 AM · Reply

    Je préfère la Fiore di Pietra ! Très intéressant.

    It also has food 😉

  3. Tim Dawson-Townsend Saturday August 21st, 2021 at 10:14 AM · Reply

    My favorite is the church Santa Maria degli Angeli. What an amazing setting!

  4. Jane Richardson Saturday August 21st, 2021 at 11:16 AM · Reply

    Church at Mogno

  5. Julia Semmer Saturday August 21st, 2021 at 01:26 PM · Reply

    Such an effort to get there – but the reward! My goodness – bold and exciting and breathtaking – the Mogno church dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

  6. Martin Saturday August 21st, 2021 at 09:41 PM · Reply

    Fiore di Pietra, by far the most interesting building

Leave a Comment