The Strada Alta is an absolute hiking classic in Ticino. Already centuries ago the Strada Alta was an important transition from north to south. On the high trail above the Valle Leventina the dangerous gorges in the valley could be bypassed. In the 45 km long long-distance hiking trail from Airolo to Biasca, history can be experienced thanks to cultural-historical evidence. For example, the typical antique wooden houses bear witness to the hardships of rural life and to the old, increasingly disappearing alpine culture. But also the unique view and the picturesque villages make this high-altitude hike a classic. The entire high-altitude trail is best hiked in three stages. My friends and I decided to get into the foodsteps of the ‘Säumer’ and even saw mules on the track on various occasions.
Stage 1: Airolo – Osco (Faido)
We started around 8 o’clock in Lucerne and took the train to Airolo. Strengthened by a cup of coffee we started with this historical hiking trail. Unfortunately it was cloudy the whole day. This first stage was marked by passing many picturesque villages. Partly we walked on hard flooring then on meadow or through a forest.
One part seemed somber as if you were walking through an enchanted forest – it was all magical. We had to walk on stone plates leading down the slope of the fall.
Finally, we arrived in Faido where we stayed at a rural hostel.
Stage 2: Osco – Anzonico
This next stage was by far the most beautiful. Not only we enjoyed a deep view of the villages in the valley and got a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains but also were the weather delightful. From Faido we first passed a forest with narrow idyllic paths and a mountain stream. From there we continued along the old mule track to the village of Rossura. It is worth visiting the church on the edge of the village and the Way of the Cross. The next village of Tengia tempts with picturesque, typical stone roofs. A forest path leads through woods and then turns left into the footpath a little later. From here the high-level hike leads through a lovely chestnut forest. It’s a wonderful experience to walk over chestnuts so many times.
The last hour is exhausting for us as it get dark and we are tired from the 6 hours walk. Finally, we arrive at Osteria Anzonico -a lovely hostel which is led with a lot of love to detail. I can strongly recommend staying there overnight.
Stage 3: Anzonico - Pollegio
The next day the trail is leading us on a cart track, on a hiking trail above the road through meadows and woods to Segno with a great view of the Leventina and the mountains. Here it is worth visiting the chapel with the freestanding Campanile dedicated to St. Ambrogio. Along rocky slopes you descend into the gorge and cross the Dragone on a wooden bridge. The path then climbs up over rock steps to the other side of the gorge. Later, on a mule track it goes steeply, but on a well-developed way, downhill and finally over steep steps up to Pollegio with bus connections. From there we took the bus to Bellinzona and got home by train to Lucerne.