A detour taking me through another time in history
Updated: Jul 12
One day on my way back from Ticino to Vaud, my GPS decided to take me down a road I hadn’t driven yet. All of a sudden I was in Italy and realized the malfunction of my GPS which ended up being the most incredible surprise I could have had that day. As a passionate explorer, especially regarding history, I couldn’t believe my luck of the road I ended up taking.
The drive took me through an old Italian village, Gurro, which was full of run down abandoned houses. Up the mountain I found myself on the “road of freedom” learning about the Italian resistants’ of WW2 near Val Grande where I came across numerous entries into the mountains as well as several war bunkers. Eventually I found myself in front a giant lizard in a fountain, what turned out to be the statue of a basilisk in the village of Malesco. Eventually I was back in Switzerland through the Simplon pass.
The amount of culture and history in this short drive blew my mind away which was perfectly matched by the gloomy weather that day. The vibe I got throughout the whole drive was very intense and one I hadn’t felt before. You could feel something cold and heavy in this area, but fascinating and I couldn’t wait to explore all I had seen in further depth.
Below you will see pictures and more explications of this fascinating trip!
This town called Gurro is apparently home to less than 300 citizens and according to local legends these are the descendants of Scottish soldiers who fled the Battle of Pavia in 1525!
Driving up the road to freedom there were various war bunkers, some extremely hidden in nature and others a little less. Equally there were entries into the mountains which could simply be storage locations for winter trucks, just like the Swiss do, or it could be related to once again military use.
After driving up the mountain, with not one car nor person crossing my way on top of it being a grey and rainy day, it is very impressive as I turned a corner and all of a sudden you have a statue pointing a gun at you. Very impressive!
This statue is placed at one of the entries to the National Parc Val Grande which has an incredible historical and cultural background.
The statue shows “for those who died fighting for freedom” commemorating many partisans (resistant fighters) who died fighting the Nazi-fascist troops during WW2 in that area.
For even more detail, partisans are people who are part of a resistant movement. During 1943 and 1945 the Italian partisans fought against fascist Italian Social Republic as well as their Nazi German allies. If you heard the song “Bella Ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao” well that’s the song from the Italian partisans during those two years!
A little further up on the mountain I came across a village Malesco which has a historic roman church dating back to the 5th Century (of course it was rebuilt a few times since then). The astonishing part here was the statue in the fountain!
The statue of the basilisk fountain (Berzelesk) was placed there in 2002 as legend says this reptile appears and has been seen in the area of Malesco.
Ontop of having received so much new information on history and culture in such a short time span, I continued my drive and kept on coming across interesting things such as a Fiat-Hitachi Digger, rusting in the forest.
Europe as well as Switzerland is so incredibly rich in history and culture, it purely is enough to hop into the car, get a little lost and keep your eyes open to learn a huge amount of new information!
We are generation change!
Enjoy! Yours truly,
© Isabel Buchbinder