Monte San Giorgio is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the fossil finds from the Triassic Period. These are on exhibit in the museum of Meride. Other highlights: the archaeological park in Tremona-Castello, the panoramic views from the summit, lovely Alp Brusino and the studio of local painter Fiorello Fiorini.
Monte San Giorgio is located between Lake Lugano’s southern arms. The route starts to climb in Tremona and first stops at the archaeological finds in Tremona-Castello. The remains of a settlement allow a detailed re-enactment of life in a farming village in the Middle Ages and can be explored with 3D-glasses. Meride is reached later at 586 m. Its narrow winding lanes, antique buildings and lovely courtyards are under landmark protection. The museum, designed by famous Ticino architect Mario Botta, has 230 million year-old fossils from Monte San Giorgio on exhibit. The area around the mountain was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 because it has the world’s best marine fossil record from the Triassic Period (230 to 245 million years ago).
Not far from the museum is the observation terrace of Val Mara. Within sight of the striking limestone cliff it offers insight into the prehistoric marine deposits and fossils. The route continues up toward Monte San Giorgio at 1000 m. First on a broad mule track shaded by dense forest, then on a relatively flat trail we arrive in Cassina and its chapel. The last part to the top is quite steep, but worth the effort. The view across the Ticino Alps and Lake Lugano is awesome. In bad weather, the San Giorgio church offers shelter. An enjoyable refuge at Alpe di Brusino is reached by a steep forest path. The grotto on the alp serves typical regional specialities in a lovely ambiance from April to October, surrounded by ancient chestnut trees.
From Serpiano a comfortable cableway goes down to Brusino Arsizio on Lake Lugano. The path leads to Hotel Serpiano and to the San Cristoforo church. A few steps from the hotel in the former customs house is the small studio of landscape painter Fiorello Fiorini, exhibiting paintings in addition to chairs that the artist revived. First through the forest, the path then leads to a road near Crocifisso. Across the road, a broad trail returns to the starting point through meadows and forest.