Vigezzina railway – Centovalli- Santa Maria Maggiore

Vigezzina railway – Centovalli- Santa Maria Maggiore


The Vigezzina – Centovalli train runs from Locarno (CH) to Domodossala (VB) and vice versa.

52 km between coniferous and deciduous forests, between mountains and valleys, between waterfalls and streams. The stretch is viable (except for heavy snowfalls) in all four seasons. In the winter between the snow, in autumn between the colorful foliage and in the spring / summer in the full awakening of nature. Each season will bring you a different emotion and landscape.


The small blue train returns breathtaking views as the slopes and valleys rise. It crosses well eighty bridges and viaducts, reaching a maximum gradient of 60%. The number of trainers is about one per hour, with a capacity of about a hundred people. (Info: / It is possible to take the ticket for any of the intermediate stations between Domodossola and Locarno, some of which start on routes to reach the different peaks that also touch the 2000 meters of altitude. In the Prestinone area there is also a cable car leading to the Piana di Vigezzo. However, we decided, as the Christmas season approached, to stop at Santa Maria Maggiore: a famous village, among other things, for its picturesque Christmas markets.


Santa Maria Maggiore is the highest station on the Centovalli route. Located at 836 m. on the sea level, in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, is the most characteristic village of Val Vigezzo. Val Vigezzo is one of the Ossola valleys between Lepontine and Lake Maggiore. The village is nestled between the peaks of Crana (2430 m), Pizzo la Scheggia (2466 m) and Pizzo Ruggio (2289 m). In the distance you can also see the famous Monte Rosa, between Italy and Switzerland. Near the village runs the river Melezzo Orientale that crosses the Valley Vigezza and finally reaches the Centovalli (CH).


Border territory, Santa Maria Maggiore, invites visitors from both Switzerland and Italy, thanks also to the railway link mentioned above. The village is known in particular for two events: the Christmas markets, during the bridge of the Immaculate Conception, and the International Sweeping Rally in the first week of September. Here is also the famous cologne


It’s a small hamlet, but it boasts a certain amount of events … and history. The country reconstructs part of its history in a small museum in the Old Town, which we definitely recommend visiting: It is the International Sweeping Museum Museum. Inside the ancient 18th-century Villa Antonia, behind the parish church, one of the oldest crafts in the area is told. An interesting story but at times sad. Between 1800 and 1960 (when obsolete fireplaces were partially replaced by more modern stoves) among the villages of the Vigezzo valley, many boys from the age of 6 were enlisted by unscrupulous ladies to become a sweeper around the Vigezzo valley, Europe. Many families, poor and numerous, gladly agreed to leave their offspring in the hands of these individuals, so that they could have a less mouth to feed in the period between September and April. (Even in the Christmas season the boys stayed away from home!).

Families, however, were only partially aware of the poor conditions that their children expected: Forced to fasting, living in unhealthy environments, at risk of illness due to fatigue and soot. Among these valleys are still singing ancient folk songs with protagious swordsman: Nostalgic melodies to the lost affection of the mother and to the homeland. Many swabs lost themselves in alcohol and gambling; Some were able to redeem, like Maurice Gaurin, the first winner of the Tour de France.


In the village we invite you to visit also the parish church of Maria Santissima Assunta, which stands in the center of the village with its millennial bell tower; The colorful old town hall (called Casa Mandamentale), always on Piazza del Risorgimento, which was originally the seat of the Pretore of the Vigezzo Valley, then seat of the town council, now home to exhibitions directed by the municipality of Santa Maria Maggiore.


What better way to end a visit to a place if you do not savor local specialties? Visit the colorful narrow streets of the village, so do not overlook the local gastronomy: salami, cheeses, Stinchett (sparkling with water and flour to savor as a snack during your walk) or the dessert devoted to our old friends chubby (“Mattonella of the chimney sweep “, janduia dough with chocolate and cream of hazelnut). If you enjoyed this article, we would like to invite you to visit these valleys between September and December and discover tastes, landscapes and ancient sites …




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