Our mission is to research the heritage and enhance awareness of the Insubrica region. We privilege historical traces that can be accessed and visited by anyone. We are a non-profit organization. Contact us if you want to contribute as an author. Our blog content is offered for the sake of simplicity exclusively in English. Insubrica Historica is a registered publication at Swiss National Library ISSN 2624-523X.
The fortress "Blockhaus Unten" or "Forte Olimpio": This fortress was a small infantry blockhause built during the First World War, once called "Blockhaus Unten" and then renamed "Forte Olimpio" in 1980.
The reinforced concrete fortress consists of a tunnel trench line, covered entirely with a concrete shelter. In the tunnel, there are four machine gun stations and two headlight positions. Since it is located on swampy ground, on the border with the Bolle di Magadino, the building has been built on deep foundations.
The blockhouse was used to defend the Gambarogno cantonal road (left bank of Lake Maggiore) and the Luino - Cadenazzo railway line, both are situated in meters from the complex, and to defend the Magadino artillery factory. Nearby, on the hill side of Magadino, there is a further defence object, which is still easy accessible after having crossed a narrow train line under the passage.
It is an artillery fort originally built between 1912 and 1919. It consists of two canon positions (for 7.5 cm Krupp canons on Sulzer racks), two battle racks for machine guns and two headlight positions. During the Second World War, two new tunnels were digged to separate the accommodations from the work area. During the fifties, a new ammunition emplacement was also installed. This artillery fort could host up to 120 soldiers.
The main fire line of the artillery was the bridge of the cantonal road between Tenero and Gordola (Verzasca Bridge). The secondary target was the right bank of Lago Maggiore (from Ascona to Minusio) thus preventing boats from docking.
In the northern part of the Canton Ticino, there is a flat ever green plain called ilPiano di Magadino. It has a water meadow landscape with its wealth of amphibian and bird wildlife, accessed in Bolle di Magadino natural reserve, which essentially represents the delta area of the Ticino river before debouching into Lago Maggiore.
It is supposed that throughout the ages, a couple of defence castles were built in this particular area.
For example, a castle is thought to be owned by the wealthy family Magoria, a lineage belonging to the noble families Capitanei of Locarno. The existence of the castle was already traced back to 1365; it was built by Galeazzo II Visconti (1320-1378). But, unfortunately, no vestiges of this castle remain at present.
The castle of Magadino was destroyed in 1518 by Swiss confederate troops. According to historian Francesco Ballerini, the original location of the lost castle was situated in the place of Castellaccio which exists today. It is believed that the foundations of the Blockhouse fortifications replaced the lost castle. It is also historically plausible that this is the correct location as lake had much withdrawn throughout the centuries.
This picture A shows the approximate position of the castle during the lower Middle Ages (1300-1400) and the picture on the bottom shows its position nowadays.
Cristian Scapozza et Paolo Oppizzi, Évolution morpho-sédimentaire et paléo-environnementale de la plaine fluvio-deltaïque du Ticino pendant l’Holocène récent (Canton du Tessin, Suisse), Géomorphologie vol. 19 - n° 3 | 2013 (Link)
Cristian Scapozza, L’evoluzione degli ambienti fluviali del Piano di Magadino dall’anno 1000 a oggi, Archivio Storico Ticinese n. 153, maggio 2013 (Link)