Three Castles of Bellinzona
Renato Dotta, honorary president of the association Spada nella Rocca:
What is your role in this UNESCO World Heritage site?
The three castles of Bellinzona are located in an important geographical position overlooking the Ticino valley, a strategic gateway between the southern and northern worlds. Already from the pre-Roman period, various testimonies and finds testify that the place was subject to emperors, bishops, counts and dukes. History is our mirror, it is a repository of wisdom from which to draw lessons and it is for this reason that in the guise of Emperor Frederick I., known as Barbarossa, together with the association Spada nella Rocca, I have the important task of enhancing these manors and reviving centuries of history on different itineraries.
What is your relationship with the site?
I have always had a passion for history, especially for its uses, customs and traditions. Here in Bellinzona we have the great fortune to have three castles that in my opinion give us the chance to relive and let the public know our origins, where our ancestors came from, what they found, did, lived and left us. In future memory I think it is an important task to recall history along its different evolutions.
What is your favourite place? Can you tell us a few secrets?
All three castles have their own particular charm due to their location and configuration. Personally, the favourite place remains the castle of Montebello where at sunset, while walking among its ancient walls and inner courtyards, you can still taste the charm of the Middle Ages. As Emperor Frederick I., called Barbarossa, I affirm that even in the castles of Bellinzona there are secrets that must remain in the shadow of history, I only mention that if you do not want to let an enemy know your secret, do not tell a friend.
What is the best time to visit the site and why?
The three castles of Bellinzona can be visited throughout the year. In my opinion the best period is undoubtedly spring with summer and autumn where you can make, also through an expert guide, several cultural and historical visits with educational routes that give the opportunity to learn about history also passing through the historic center of the city of Bellinzona and its surroundings. Of course in spring there is the great medieval historical re-enactment during the whole weekend.
What activities do you recommend?
The location and configuration of the three castles offers the possibility to carry out various activities ranging from food and wine events to cultural events such as exhibitions, shows, concerts. Personally I strongly recommend during a weekend the possibility to relive life, customs and medieval traditions in the shadow of the manors through a great historical re-enactment. It consists of camps, medieval markets, tournaments of knights and swordsmen, medieval performances with musicians, jugglers and historians involving all visitors.
March 2020 (translated from Italian)