Leventina stretches from the southern portal of the Gotthard Tunnel near Airolo alongside the Ticino River and extends southward toward the valley up to the town of Biasca. From Airolo, where a cold wind occasionally blows from the Gotthard and where pine forests predominate, it’s only 40 kilometers, but the gradient is an impressive 800 meters. Two valley levels divide the Leventina into three sections. The expressway and the railway line run via imposing architectural masterpieces in order to overcome the differences in height in the narrow valley.
The best-preserved village in the Leventina is Giornico, which has old stone buildings, paved roads and two impressive arched bridges across the Ticino. Here, in the Casa Stanga, you will find the Leventina Museum and one of Ticino’s most significant religious buildings, the beautiful Romanesque San Nicola Church - one of several Romanesque masterpieces in the Leventina - with beautifully preserved frescoes.
The region is a marvelous hiking area with intact villages, Romanesque art treasures, idyllic mountain lakes, mountain farming, and a diverse flora and agricultural products, including chestnuts, Alpine roses, blueberries, mushrooms and Alpine cheeses. The best-known hiking route in the Leventina is the “Strada Alta”, the panoramic mountain trail from Airolo to Biasca.
High above the Leventina, the high altitude trail “Sentiero Alto del Tremorgio” runs from the Pesciüm Mountain Station (1745m) near Airolo, through a sparse mountain forest and romantic landscapes to the mountain lake of Tremorgio. Hike down to Prato, or ride the cable car across the valley to Rodi.
Even down in the valley unforgettable adventures await. For example, hiking the historic mule-traders path through the narrow Piottino Gorge, which, besides the Schöllenen Gorge and Via Mala, is one of Switzerland’s most impressive transit routes.
Skiers find in Airolo a snow-guaranteed, popular skiing area with a modern cabin lift and 30 kilometers of runs. A smaller skiing area awaits you above Faido at Cari.
- Strada alta – the popular mountain hiking tour from Airolo to Bodio Biasca, passes - always at a height of 1000 meters - some of the valley’s most beautiful mountain villages. The tour can be divided into two- or three-day stages.
- Alptransit construction site near Biasca – the Visitor Center in Pollegio has exciting information on the large construction site of the Gotthard-Base Tunnel, the new 57-kilometer railway tunnel built for traffic crossing the Alps.
- Ritom-Reservoir Lake – you will reach the magnificent high valley, Val Piora, with the Ritom funicular from Piotta. With a maximum gradient of 878 promille, it is one of the steepest funiculars in the world, and takes you up to the reservoir wall of the Ritom Reservoir Lake. No less than 20 small and large mountain lakes are spread throughout the barren mountain region.
- The church of San Nicola in Giornico – a beautiful Romanesque church built with granite around 1210 - has excellently preserved medieval frescoes in the choir apse.
- The Piottino Gorge near Rodi-Fiesso – separates the Upper from the Central Leventina with 100-meter high rock walls on both sides. The erstwhile mule-traders path through the gorge is now a hiking trail, and the old customs station, "Dazio grande", has become a museum with a restaurant.